Old School (2003)

Week of February 16, 2006


Last week, in the first installment of Blind Phyllis' three-part "Vince Vaughn Marriage Trilogy," we hailed 1996's Swingers as not necessarily anti-nuptial, but "pro-field-playing." Seven years later, in Old School, we find Vaughn portraying a character approximately that much older than super-suave Trent Walker — only fatter, more rumpled and married.

Despite opening to tepid reviews, Old School has since benefited from the emergence of the Vaughn-Ferrell-Stiller-Wilson "frat pack" that gave rise to the recent spate of super-popular R-rated comedies. It is a sophomorically funny movie that gets better with each repeated viewing.

What's missing from the analysis of Old School is that it's also one of the most unapologetically anti-marriage films of all time. The movie opens with Luke Wilson's character about to propose marriage, a plan that is dashed when he returns early from a business trip to catch his girlfriend engaging in a gang-bang. Will "Frank the Tank" Ferrell's marriage implodes within weeks of his wedding, a pact that Vaughn — the only character to remain wed throughout (albeit miserably) — tries to head off at the altar by providing Ferrell with the horrifying thought that marriage equals "one vagina for the rest of your life."

Beneath Old School's slapstick is a very serious message: that no one under the age of 30 should even begin to consider marriage. It's a plot point that recurs in Wedding Crashers, the smash-hit kicker to Vaughn's masterful trilogy.