At the Movies: Everyone’s spacey

Old School
by Jeff Frost
3.5 Hatchets

Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell drink a lot, yell a lot and look at naked chicks. Just for added kicks, they also hang out with Snoop Dogg. Only in America, folks. It’s raunchy, it’s racy and it’s decidedly Old School.

Mitch (Wilson, The Royal Tennenbaums) comes home from a business trip to find his live-in girlfriend cheating on him. Frank (Ferrell, “Saturday Night Live”) has just gotten married and finds it difficult to adjust to this new life. Beanie (Vaughn, Swingers) has been married with children for a few years but has been bored with it for a while. These are hard times for everybody, and the only logical answer is to form a non-exclusive fraternity and live out their youthful fantasies.

In a few hilarious moments, Old School treats audiences to KY Jelly wrestling matches, emotional renditions of “Dust In The Wind” and a way too naked Ferrell.

Old School is without a doubt a comedy classic. It soars head and shoulders above the year’s other comedies, delivering an unparalleled bit of raunch. Of all the films that have labeled themselves “the next Animal House,” this is the only one that can boast such a title.

Wilson has a talent for sublime comedy. He looks harmlessly confused and barely realizes he is being funny. Vaughn is best known for his in-your-face, jerk-you-love-to-hate style, with whom no one can compete. Ferrell could retire today and be remembered as no less than a god, but Old School only proves that his best work is yet to come.

Todd Philips, best known for the similar Road Trip, has the ability to make a hybrid of a sex comedy and a college comedy that ends up being wholly unique and refreshing. The reason that a comedy like this works is that it never pretends to be more than it is. With a top-of- the-line cast triumvirate, Old School sets a new standard that won’t be matched anytime soon.

The Life of David Gale
by Christopher Correa
1.5 Hatchets

Kevin Spacey used to be a contender. He could induce a sense of tension with the cutting timbre of his voice and the ominous suavity in his mannerisms. Now the most intimidating thing about him is his hairline, because it’s starting to resemble Jack Nicholson’s. Where Spacey used to flaunt a shrewd foresight in good movies like L.A. Confidential, he now emits a sleepy condescension in poor ones like Pay It Forward and K-Pax.

That hard shell of armor turned out to be little more than candy coating; his sardonic elegance has melted away and all that remains is a gooey heart of gold. Thus is the effect of Spacey’s new film, The Life of David Gale. With his latest film, Spacey musters all the somberness he can to give weight and breadth to his first plausible character in years.

Director Alan Parker is perhaps offering a plea for forgiveness with The Life of David Gale after his own string of recent cinematic misdemeanors, among them the film version of Evita starring Madonna, and the soggy adaptation of Frank McCourt’s lilting memoir Angela’s Ashes.

David Gale (Spacey) is a man who has tried hard to live by his principles but in a bizarre twist of fate, this devoted father, popular professor and respected death penalty opponent finds himself on death row for the rape and murder of fellow activist Constance Harraway (Laura Linney). With only three days before his scheduled execution, Gale agrees to give reporter Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet) the exclusive interview she’s been chasing.

As revealed in flashbacks (footnoted by thematic super-titles like “Pain” and “Truth”) reminiscent of the HBO series “Oz,” Parker’s film reeks of the second-hand. And with a screenplay built around red herrings, this unabashedly liberal yarn starts to smell a little fishy.

The Life of David Gale may achieve two things: it might knock some moderate Democrats over the fence into the yard of conservatism, and it might put audiences off of movies with morals for a good while.

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