Old School

Old School Information

Old School is a 2003 American comedy film released by DreamWorks Pictures and The Montecito Picture Company and directed by Todd Phillips. The story was written by Court Crandall, and the film was written by Phillips and Scot Armstrong. The film stars Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn, and Will Ferrell as three depressed thirty-somethings who seek to re-live their college days by starting a fraternity, and the tribulations they encounter in doing so.

Despite mixed reviews and only moderate box office success, Old School has gained a massive cult following over the years, as several minor characters in the film went on to have big careers, including Simon Helberg, Elisha Cuthbert, Rob Corddry and Artie Lange.


Upon returning home early from a business trip, attorney Mitch Martin (Luke Wilson) walks in on his girlfriend Heidi (Juliette Lewis) taking part in an orgy. Learning she regularly partakes in them, he decides to break up with her. A few days later, Mitch encounters his high school crush, Nicole (Ellen Pompeo), at the wedding of his friend Frank (Will Ferrell) and makes an awkward impression. Later, he moves into a house located near the campus of the fictional Harrison University in Upstate New York.

Mitch's other friend Bernard (Vince Vaughn) throws a housewarming party at Mitch's house, dubbed Mitch-A-Palooza, which is a huge success. Frank gets drunk and is seen streaking by his wife Marissa and her friends, putting a strain on their new marriage. The following morning, the trio run into an old acquaintance whom they used to ridicule at school: Gordon Pritchard (Jeremy Piven), who is now the college dean. He informs them they must vacate the house because it's exclusively for campus housing. Bernard proposes starting a fraternity that is open to anyone to meet the housing criteria. The new fraternity carries out several hazing events throughout campus, attracting the attention of Pritchard and other faculty members.

At a birthday party for one of Bernard's children, Nicole brings her boyfriend Mark and Mitch later walks in on him in the bathroom as he's hooking up with another girl. While initially discreet, Mitch is forced to recount the incident to Nicole when Mark lies that the girl was with Mitch instead of himself. Later, the oldest fraternity member, Blue, has a heart attack and dies during a "KY lube wrestling" match with two college girls at his birthday celebration. At Blue's funeral, Marissa asks Frank for a divorce.

Plotting revenge against the group, Pritchard asks the student council president, Megan, to revoke the fraternity's charter. Megan, who met her boyfriend at one of their parties, initially remains loyal to the fraternity until the dean bribes her with promises to help her get into law school. By video, he claims that the group is violating university policies, subjecting the students in the non-sanctioned fraternity to expulsion.

Mitch learns that the group has the right to bypass the Pritchard's ruling if all of their members complete various activities to prove their legitimacy. Frank is able to defeat James Carville in a debate session. Next, the fraternity successfully navigates its way through an academic exam largely due to the assistance of two of Mitch's co-workers, who help everyone cheat. In the school spirit evaluation, the fraternity loses points when Frank unsuccessfully attempts to jump through a ring of fire while dressed as the school mascot. Badly burned and humiliated, Frank rallies to give a strong performance in the floor exercise routine of the gymnastics competition. Bernard manages to complete the rings routine, leaving only the vault exercise remaining. Pritchard chooses Weensie, an obese member of the fraternity, to perform the vault. Amazingly, Weensie executes a perfect landing, allowing the fraternity to pass gymnastics.

The fraternity completes the activities with an 84% average. However, Pritchard tells them that their average has dropped to a failing 58% after accounting for the absence of Blue. While the students are in despair, Megan arrives with tape recorded evidence of the Pritchard's bribery. After a chase throughout campus, Frank obtains the tape and uses it to get Pritchard fired. The fraternity's charter is reinstated and moves into Pritchard's former residence.

Nicole visits Mitch as he's moving out of the old fraternity house, and tells him she dumped Mark after catching him cheating. The two reconcile, intent on moving their relationship forward. Mitch and Bernard decide to withdraw from the fraternity. Frank, now divorced, takes over the leadership role.

In the closing credits, Mark accidentally drives his car over a bridge and lands on Pritchard, who is fly fishing. The car explodes, killing them both. Meanwhile, Frank runs into Heidi at a grocery store, who invites him to her house to hang out with her "internet friends." He excitedly accepts.



The film was filmed in and around La Crescenta, California. From 7 January, 2002 Until 18 March, 2002 Filming locations included Palisades High School, UCLA, USC and Harvard University. The film is considered a forerunner to the Frat Pack since three of its stars are core members of that group.


Critical reception

The film received mixed to positive reviews. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 60% of critics gave the film a positive review based on a sample of 160 reviews, with an average score of 5.6/10; the consensus stated "While not consistently funny, the movie does have its moments." At the website Metacritic, which utilizes a normalized rating system, the film earned a rating of 54/100 based on 32 reviews by mainstream critics.

Box office

The film grossed $17,453,216 in 2,689 theaters in its first opening weekend at the U.S. Box office, opening at #2 behind Daredevil which was on its second week at the top spot. Old School has had gross receipts of $75,585,093 in the U.S. and Canada and $11,470,256 in international markets for a total of $87,055,349 worldwide.


  • In 2003, Artios Awards nominated Old School for best casting for feature film.
  • In 2003, The MTV Movie Award Nominated Old School for Best Comedic Performance (for Will Ferrell, losing to Jack Black for School of Rock) and Best On-Screen Team.
  • In 2004, Taurus Award nominated Old School for Best Fire Stunt.
  • in 2012, Spike Guys' Choice Awards Guy Movie Hall of Fame: Old School


At the Mitch-a-palooza party, Snoop Dogg and Kokane perform "Paper'd Up", sampling Eric B & Rakim's track "Paid in Full". The soundtrack also included "Fun Night" by Andrew W.K., "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas, "Hungry Like the Wolf", "Farmer in the Dell", "Gonna Make You Sweat", "Louie Louie", "Chariots of Fire", "Good Lovin' Gone Bad", "Master of Puppets" by Metallica, "Playground in My Mind" by Clint Holmes and "The Sound of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel. The main song in this movie is "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake, which is played when Will Ferrell's character is fixing his car and in the closing credits. Also, The Dan Band sings one of the famous songs of Bonnie Tyler, "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (with some interesting improvisational departures as to the cover's lyrics), and Styx's "Lady". During the introductory sequence Ryan Adams' "To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)", co-written with David Rawlings, can be heard most memorably during the metal detector scene.


In 2006, a sequel, titled Old School Dos, was written by Scot Armstrong but was turned down by original stars, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn. The story concerned the aging fraternity going to Spring Break. While promoting Semi-Pro in 2008, Ferrell had this to say about the defunct project: "I read [the script]. Some super funny set pieces, but I don"?t know. I think Vince [Vaughn] had the same reaction. We"?re just kind of doing the same thing again. It was like us going to Spring Break, but we"?ve got to find this guy who"?s the head of a fraternity. Once again, funny things but it"?s just us once again back in a fraternity setting. It just felt like it was repeating. But watch, I"?m over-thinking it."?

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