Old School

Harmless though uninspired comedy about three guys in their thirties (Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell) who start a college fraternity as a way of recapturing the wild spirit of their younger days. Sort of. This is just a lame "high concept" plot, actually; a mere clothesline on which to hang a bunch of rather ordinary gags and slack Animal House rehashes.

I have two fundamental problems with Old School: First, I saw the trailer too many times, and most of the funny bits were in that; second, none of these actors is leading man material. Wilson ostensibly holds the central role, but although he seems like a nice guy, he doesn't have much onscreen charisma. He could be anybody. Vaughn and Ferrell ply their respective fast-talking cynic and unbalanced goofball shticks, and they certainly seem at ease doing so, but there's nothing new here.

Too bad, since Phillips' previous comedy, Road Trip, pleasantly surprised me. Its cast of mostly unknowns seemed to click more as a unit, especially DJ Qualls' transcendent performance as the geeky virgin. That – and some tighter, riskier jokes – lifted Road Trip a few notches above your average college comedy. Old School, on the other hand, is thoroughly average. The only bit that made me laugh was the wedding singer (Dan Finnerty) who spiced up his version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" with a few choice vulgarities. Now that's funny.