Friday, August 29, 2008

Visiting a College was NEVER this much fun!

First-time director Deb Hagan teams up with first-time screenwriters Dan Callahan and Adam Ellison in the gross-out comedy COLLEGE. Kevin (Drake Bell), Carter (Andrew Caldwell), and Morris (Kevin Covais) are three nerdy high school seniors who need some adventure in their life. After Gina (Alona Tal) breaks up with Kevin, the trio decides to have a wild weekend at Fieldmont University, where Kevin and Morris are planning on going to college in the fall--Morris on an academic scholarship. When their preassigned dorm room is not ready for them for reasons best left unsaid, they turn instead to one of the fraternities, where a cousin of Carter's was a member, hoping to be treated as legacies. But the frat, which is on probation and cannot have a new pledge class, takes advantage of the situation by turning Kevin, Carter, and Morris into pre-frosh pledges for the weekend, torturing them in numerous and disgusting ways, some involving pigs, nitrous oxide, bathrooms, and lots of alcohol. The three nerds try to find solace--and possible sex--with Heather (Camille Mana), Kendall (Haley Bennett), and Amy (Nathalie Walker), but the frat brothers have other plans. And then there's Bearcat (Gary Owen), who just about steals the show as the craziest of all the fraternity brothers.

Kevin Brewer (Drake Bell) is a high school senior unceremoniously dumped by girlfriend Gina (Alona Tal) for living his life on the straight and narrow. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Kevin does something better: he travels with best friends Carter (Andrew Caldwell) and Morris (Kevin Covais) to freshman orientation at prospective school Fieldmont University and vows to make it a weekend none of them will ever forget. Wild frat parties, myriad adventures, and maybe even a little romance ensues, with Kevin finally coming into his own and learning that he likes himself just the way he is. "College" is thin on plot, more of a naturalistic slice-of-life that also happens to include a few genre staples. From the smarmy fraternity guys, led by Teague (Nick Zano), who vow to make the visiting kids' lives hell, to the bad guys' grand-scale climactic comeuppance, to the scenes of T&A (and more) intertwined with a more serious romantic subplot between Kevin and fresh-faced collegiate Kendall (Haley Bennett), to the three friends' temporary falling-out and making up, the movie is a return to the care-free, anything-goes attitude of the '80s teen sex comedies. Deep character exploration will not be located here, but all of the binge drinking, nitrous oxide inhaling, scatological humor, and bumpy bedplay one can imagine is in full force. Indeed, "College" goes overboard on occasion, moving beyond the truth of the rest of the film and into a more outlandish zone (is this the biggest party school on the planet or what?), but it's good-humored even when it's threatening the viewer's gag reflex. As Kevin, Drake Bell is a servicable yet forgettable protagonist when stacked against his more colorful co-stars. Andrew Caldwell is the standout of the trio as the ready and willing Carter—energetic to a fault, uninhibited in his lack of vanity, and lovable even when his character is being sarcastic or shrill. He is someone to definitely keep an eye on. As the reserved Morris, who goes through some changes of his own during the weekend timeframe, former "American Idol" contestant Kevin Covais makes an auspicious acting debut in a role that goes directly against his squeaky-clean persona. It's admirable of Covais to take a chance like this, and he pulls it off. On the female front, Haley Bennett is likeably casual and unforced as Kevin's love interest, Kendall, and Nathalie Walker and Camille Mana offer sunny, humorous support as Amy and Heather. Meanwhile, an extended cameo by Verne Troyer could have, and should have, been cut without any bearing on the story. Quite a lot of laughs to keep me interested, but I have a feeling that many may pass this one up. I'm saying NOT to! This gets a 4 on my "Go See" scale.

No comments: