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"Animal House, House, HouseWhere we find out what happened to everyone."
Where nobody ever went to class,
And then we got to see Donald Sutherland's ass.
And then they did the end bit like American Graffiti,
—Homer Simpson's unique summary of Animal House, to the tune of the Animal House theme song.
Perhaps the best known of all the National Lampoon movies, Animal House is about the wacky hijinx of the members of the Delta fraternity at "Faber College", as they fight against the snooty Omegas and the uptight dean Vernon Wormer.
Directed by John Landis, Animal House launched the short lived film career of Saturday Night Live castmember John Belushi. Inspired dozens of Follow the Leader takes on the raunchy college frat movie, including some by National Lampoon themselves. Spawned a spinoff TV series called Delta House.
Written by a guy from Harvard (who gave himself one line: "What the hell we s'pose to do, ya mo-RON"), advised by a guy from Dartmouth; and if you happen to visit the latter you can buy all sorts of Animal House-themed memorabilia in the co-op.
This film is the Trope Namer for:
...the Trope Codifier for:
...and the former Trope Namer of:
- All Men Are Perverts: "We're willing to trade looks for a certain....morally casual attitude."
- Ambiguously Jewish: Donald "Boone" Schoenstein (Peter Riegert), who is Eric "Otter" Stratton's best friend. German last name, short in stature, dark curly hair, unusual nose shape, New York accent, wisecracking personality - Come on! Either he's Jewish, or he's faking it really well.
- According to The Other Wiki, Riegert comes from a (nonobservant) Jewish family.
- The Art of Bra Removal: Pinto can't do it.
- Aside Glance: Bluto, while peeking into the girls' dormitory and right before smashing the guitar, in both cases primarily as an excuse for John Belushi's trademark raised eyebrow.
- Badass Biker: Daniel Simpson Day/"D-Day"
- Based on a True Story: Chris Miller, whose National Lampoon stories are the basis for the story, wrote a book detailing the real events. It involves a lot more vomiting.
- Black and Gray Morality: The Omegas are snobbish, bigoted, mean, and sneaky. The Deltas are not-- but they're still far, far from model citizens. Let's face it, they're petty criminals at best.
- To the credit of the members of the Delta House, they at least admit it. To quote Otter: "This calls for a really futile and stupid gesture on somebody's part, and we're just the guys to do it."
- It's also worth noting that, sleazy as the members of Delta are, they're notably friendlier than the members of Omega.
- Blatant Lies: "Remain calm. All is well! ALL IS WELL!"
- Also counts as a Villainous Breakdown.
- Brick Joke: Boone accidentally shanks a golf ball through the window of the campus cafeteria's kitchen, where it lands in a big tureen of soup. A couple of scenes later, Bluto discovers the ball in his soup while buying lunch in that cafeteria and promptly eats it.
- The speed limit sign seen in the background of Delta House could count as a short-term one. A few minutes after it first appears, D-Day rides in on his motorcycle.
- But for Me It Was Tuesday: Otis Day plays at Delta House's unforgettable toga party. When they go to see him at a bar a few days later, he doesn't even remember who they are.
- An alternate interpretation is that Otis and his bandmates do remember the Deltas, but they have to pretend like they don't because the Deltas are white and everyone else in the bar is an Angry Black Man.
- Butt Monkey: Kevin Bacon, both in the film and real life. As this was his first role, when he went to the premiere, he wasn't allowed to sit with the rest of the cast because the ushers didn't believe he was in it. He had to sit in the back with everyone else.
- Can-Crushing Cranium: Possibly the Ur Example.
- Captain Ersatz: Bluto, Otter, Boon, D-Day, and Hoover were based on John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Brian Doyle-Murray, respectively.
- Censor Decoy: Clorette's age was meant to be cut to a more reasonable age... but the censors didn't object.
- Chewbacca Defense: Otter's "point of parliamentary procedure" during the hearing:
[...] And if this is indeed an indictment of our educational system, is it not an attack on our entire American society?! Well you can do with us what you wish, but we're not gonna sit here and let you bad mouth THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!
- Subverted as it doesn't help at all.
- Then again, 1. They didn't give it a chance to help, walking out right after saying the above line, but 2. They knew that the whole thing was a Kangaroo Court by this time. Walking out in protest probably was the best they could do under those circumstances.
- College Widow: Although not literally a widow, Mrs. Wormer.
- Cough-Snark-Cough: Cough*blowjob*Cough*blowjob*!
- Cringe Comedy: The entire sequence in the all-black bar.
- The Danza: John Belushi as John "Bluto" Blutarsky.
- Subverted, however, with John Vernon's character Vernon Wormer, the dean of the college. According to John Landis, his first choice for the role was Jack Webb, who turned it down because he felt that the film was making fun of his straight-laced, law-and-order image. Webb, however, was not averse to poking fun at himself, and he did just that in a famous sketch on The Tonight Show.
- Date Rape Averted / Dude, She's Like, in a Coma / Near-Rape Experience / Black Comedy Rape: Pinto is sorely tempted (literally, by the devil on his shoulder) to have his way with Clorette after she's passed out. This is done for laughs. The Seventies were a strange time.
- Pinto does, after all, resist said temptation.
- Dawson Casting: Most of the cast. For example, Mark Metcalf (Niedermayer) was 32.
- Deadpan Snarker: Basically all the Delta members, expecially Bluto.
- Dean Bitterman: Dean Vernon Wormer. While not the Trope Namer, Dean Wormer is the Trope Codifier for this type of character.
- Defictionalized: DeWayne Jessie, the actor who played Otis Day, changed his name and recorded with the Knights.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: The movie was made in 1978, but takes place in 1962 (back when yelling "The negroes took our dates!" in public was slightly more acceptable).
- Don't Explain the Joke: "I'm a zit. Get it?"
- Enforced Method Acting: When not filming, John Landis purposely prevented the actors playing Deltas from interacting with the actors playing Omegas so that the "enemies" wouldn't end up bonding with each other.
- Executive Meddling: Various. Universal President Ned Tanen insisted the Road Trip sequence be cut because he worried it could start race riots. Landis showed the clip to Richard Pryor, who wrote to the executive "Ned, Animal House is fucking funny and white people are crazy - Richard."
- Fake Food: The whiskey Bluto drinks just after Delta House is dismantled was actually tea.
- Fan Disservice: Oh hi, Donald Sutherland's ass! Didn't expect to see you here!
- Although, to be fair, the only reason why we see Donald Sutherland's ass is because Karen Allen, who was also in that scene, was reluctant to bare her ass. Seeing that she was nervous, Sutherland offered to bare his ass if she bared hers, and she agreed. So you might say that, were it not for Donald Sutherland's ass, the movie would have one less instance of Fan Service (see below).
- Fan Service: Way too many examples to mention, and for both sexes.
- Feng Schwing: Eric "Otter" Stratton's room.
- Five-Bad Band: Dean Wormer and the Omegas
- Food Fight: Quite possibly the Trope Namer.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: When Pinto and Clorette are about to have sex, she reveals she's only 13. The writers originally intender her to be 17 but didn't think the censors would approve. They believed that if they had her say she was 13, the censors would tell them she needed to be older and in that case, 17 would be okay. However, the censors said nothing about her character being 13, so it was left that way.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Pinto when he's with Clorette and she passes out, leaving her at his mercy.
Angel: "I'm proud of you, Lawrence."
Devil: "You homo!"
- Good People Have Good Sex: Otter is a Casanova. Greg is saving himself for marriage and can't even get it up for a handjob.
- Greg can't get it up with a girl because he's gay, but in his defense he probably can't even conceive of this as a possibility in 1962.
- Handsome Lech: Eric "Otter" Stratton.
- Have a Gay Old Time: Played with. The day after the Deltas' scandalous toga party is held, the local paper runs a story whose headline reads: "Local Teenager Molested." This is obviously in reference to Clorette DePasto, who was passed out drunk and half-naked by the end of the party (and almost has sex with Pinto while so intoxicated, although Pinto never shares that fact with anyone else). Since this movie is set in the early 1960s and most of the "normal" characters are starchy upper-middle-class types, it's possible that the newspaper writer meant "molest" in the sense of "to bother," but that the filmmakers were counting on audiences in 1978 and afterward to interpret it as a Double Entendre. But on the other hand, since even the most snobbish characters in this movie are not averse to using filthy language (see Sophisticated As Hell below), maybe the characters were aware of the connotation - explaining Carmine's rage when he sees Pinto near the end.
- Incessant Music Madness: At the toga party, some guy is playing a guitar and singing when Bluto happens by. After listening to the singing for a while, Bluto takes the guitar away from the guy and smashes it to pieces against a wall.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Bluto, after Delta House is cleaned out once their charter is revoked. Bluto starts to panic, when someone tosses him a wide-mouthed bottle of Jack Daniels. He chugs the entire bottle. "Thanks; I needed that."
- Initiation Ceremony: At Delta House, it involves getting drunk. At Omega House... "Assume the position."
- Insult Backfire: After Delta House is dismantled.
Niedermeyer: How's it feel to be an independent, Schoenstein?
Boone: How's it feel to be an asshole, Niedermeyer?
- It Will Never Catch On: Donald Sutherland was offered either a percentage of the gross, or cash up front. He chose cash, sure that the film would flop. If he had taken the former option, he would've raked in several million dollars.
- Joker Jury/Kangaroo Court: The Omegas throw the book at the Deltas at the latter's probation hearing, even outright making up one of the accusations against them.
- In the movie, the charge of providing pledges with "diet pills" (amphetamines) is baseless. However, in the novelization (by script co-writer Chris Miller), it's quite true. The pills are kept in a dish marked "Study Aids". Pinto takes some to get through writing a term paper, crashes during his exams and fails that class.
- The Khan: Bluto after the frat's beer bar is taken away.
- Lady Drunk: Mrs. Wormer.
- Lampshaded Double Entendre:
(Otter and Mrs. Wormer are in the supermarket vegetable section)
Otter : Mine's bigger than that. Oh, my cucumber. It's bigger. Vegetables can be really sensuous don't you think?
Mrs. Wormer : No, Vegetables are sensual, people are sensuous
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: "Is it supposed to be this soft?"
- Misfit Mobilization Moment
- Mrs. Robinson: Mrs. Wormer
- My Dear Idiot: Plump and naive Kent Dorfman, the newest member of the Delta house is given the nickname "Flounder", probably because of his size (in comparison to fish maybe), yet this becomes an endearing name for him over time.
- Naked Freak-Out: Babs Jansen at the end of the homecoming parade (in her final appearance in the movie).
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The movie's circus-like climax features crashing floats, multicolored smoke bombs, an elephant, clowns on bicycles, Bluto swinging down from the rooftops dressed as a swashbuckler... and 10,000 marbles.
- Non Sequitur Distraction: The former Trope Namer. Towards the end, Bluto gives a stirring speech about not giving up, and at one point says "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?" Otter, in reaction, looks confused for a moment and mutters, "Germans?" to which Boon responds "Forget it, he's rolling."
- Of Corsets Sexy: Mrs. Wormer.
- Oh Crap: When the Deltas' prank Goes Horribly Wrong and they end up with a dead horse in Dean Vernon's office, all Bluto can say is "Holy SHIT!"
- One-Scene Wonder: The
charming guydouchebag with the guitar is Stephen Bishop, who wrote and performed the Animal House theme.
- Our Founder: The Faber fellow. "Knowledge is Good"
- The Peeping Tom: Bluto Blutarsky uses a ladder to peer through the second-story window of a sorority house.
- Pillow Fight
- Playboy: Martha Smith, Miss July 1973, played Babs.
- Politically Incorrect Villains: At their rush party, the Omegas humiliate Pinto and Flounder by having them sit at a segregated table with a Muslim (albeit one in a Sikh turban), a Hindu, a Jew, and a blind kid. Oh, and they mispronounce the Hindu guy's name - on purpose. (They also consistently call Pinto Lonnie instead of Larry, and his attempts to correct them are rewarded only with a patronising chuckle.)
- And they lead Flounder back over there whenever he tries to get up and mingle.
- Wasn't the fact that the non-white people and the blind guy were the "reject" table supposed to Lampshade Omega's status as the "Nazi fraternity"?
- Actually, the movie seems to be subverting - or at least playing with - the "bad-guys-bigoted-good-guys-tolerant" stock plot. The Deltas certainly try to be open-minded, but they're hardly civil-rights crusaders: they implicitly accept the de facto segregation of the Dexter Lake Club by fleeing in terror (which is, admittedly, what most white people in that situation would have done, but the point is that in most movies of this type, the heroes would sincerely try to calm down the rampaging mob). And they seem unconcerned - and even gleeful - about Unfortunate Implications when they ram a pro-integration float in the climactic parade scene, tearing the two papier-mache hands of different colors completely apart.
- Prison Rape: Greg's caption reveals that he went on to become a White House aid during Nixon's presidency, and was subsequently raped in prison. Probably meant to double as a Black Comedy Rape, since he's a douchebag (and according to his girlfriend, was saving himself for marriage).
- Really Seventeen Years Old: Oh Crap, she's actually only thirteen years old!
- "The Reason You Suck" One Liner: "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son"
- Recycled: the Series: Delta House.
- Refuge in Audacity: Indeed, it's a testament to this movie's sheer level of audacity that it's still considered politically incorrect (but funny!) an entire generation after it was made.
- Repeat After Me: During the Delta House initiation.
"I, state your name ..." "I, state your name ..."
- Rousing Speech: "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!"
- It's been reported that LAURA FREAKIN' BUSH launched into "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?!" when the 2000 vote count in Florida wasn't going well.
- Sadist Teacher: Dean Wormer.
- Self-Deprecation: Pinto's eventual fate: "Editor-in-chief, National Lampoon".
- Slippery Skid: Marbles during the parade.
- Slippery Slope Fallacy: Used rather awesomely in the court scene where Otter argues that attacking his fraternity is attacking the entire American society.
- Slobs Versus Snobs: In spades.
- Smug Snake: Most of the Omegas, especially Niedermeyer and Marmalard.
- Sophisticated As Hell: Some of the stuffier characters (Dave Jennings being a good example) aren't above occasionally using such words as "shit" and "fuck."
- Straw Man Has a Point: It's hard not to understand just why Dean Wormer wants Delta off campus and out of Faber.
- Strawman U:
- Faber College is a strict, pre-counterculture 1960s Bob Jones University example.
- About three-quarters of the way through the picture, the Deltas take a road trip and make a brief stop at a "progressive" women's college to pick up some dates. The college is a bit staid to qualify as "Berserkeley," but the point is made that the girls are all bleeding-heart liberals. (In order to make it with them, you have to mention that you're into some kind of progressive cause.)
- Team Dad: Hoover, to the Deltas. He's the only one of them who seems to genuinely care about avoiding trouble and staying on Dean Wormer's good side (at least enough to avoid getting thrown out of school), and generally tries to keep the Deltas from going too far off the rails. Granted, they usually ignore his advice...but at least he tries.
- Theme Tune Roll Call
- Those Two Guys: Otter and Boon.
- Trust Me, I'm an X:
Bluto: My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.
Otter: You'd better listen to him, Flounder, he's pre-med.
Otter: (Rising in a disciplinary hearing) Point of parliamentary procedure!
Hoover: Don't screw around, they're serious this time!
Otter: (aside) Take it easy, I'm pre-law.
Boon: I thought you were pre-med.
Otter: What's the difference?
- Unbuilt Trope: This film actually does a lot in deconstructing Wacky Fratboy Hijinx.
- The Un-Reveal: Part of what makes "D-Day" so fascinating is how much the movie leaves ambiguous about his true nature. ("Daniel Simpson Day....has no grade point average. All courses incomplete." Okay, so what has he been doing all this time?) And at the very end, as he's roaring off in a stolen police car: "Daniel Simpson Day: whereabouts unknown."
- Vomit Discretion Shot: Flounder throws up on Dean Wormer - offscreen. (But we hear the "splat" and see Wormer's secretary's shocked reaction.)
- Wacky Fratboy Hijinx: The Deltas steal and (accidentally) murder a horse, leave both Mrs. Wormer and Clorette DePasto drunken wrecks, and of course turn the Homecoming Parade into an utter fiasco. Not to mention what happens every Halloween....
- Halloween when the trees are full of underwear has nothing on Spring when the toilets explode.
- Was Just Leaving: Subverted. When a coed says, "He was just leaving," Otter replies, "No I'm not."
- Watch the Paint Job: Flounder's brother's car.
- We Need a Distraction
- What Could Have Been: Dan Aykroyd turned down the role of D-Day.
- Where Are They Now? Epilogue: Perhaps the best known example.
- The DVD featured a modern-day update on this. The highlights: Otter is a doctor with sexy patients, Diller is a missionary thanks to seeing Jesus in his food numerous times (including a shot of Kevin Bacon from Tremors), Babs is still a tour guide giving ludicrously bad information, Dean Wormer is senile but the Deltas are still a Berserk Button, D-Day is living off the grid across the border and flees when John Landis tracks him down, and Bluto is the President of the United States.
- White Anglo Saxon Protestant: This is the entire ethos of Omega House, right down to the way the characters dress and (sometimes) how they talk. Delta House, while equally monochromatic, is at least a blend of more sympathetic and less stereotypical WAS Ps and various "ethnic whites" (including one possible Jew, as noted above).
- The Deltas have precisely one black member. Exactly one more than the Omegas.
- Wild Teen Party: The Delta House toga party.
- Younger Than They Look: Clorette. Though the actress playing her was eighteen.