Compared to last year’s Superbad, sophomore director Deb Hagan’s coming-of-age teen sex comedy should be called Superlame. Three high school seniors—a skinny nerd, an obese kid and a clean-cut pretty boy—visit nearby Feldmont University for a three-day weekend and get co-opted by a fraternity of losers to serve as faux pledges in hazing rituals involving pigs, urine and bad music. Gross-out bathroom humor and a spattering of obligatory bare breasts break up the monotony of booze guzzling, pot smoking and humiliating pranks that our three neophytes must endure in order to get a handle on who they might become when college takes over their lives. As a boring exercise in youthful debauchery, this College is no place you’d ever want to go.
Hagan paces the comedy as if she were popping sedatives like they were Goobers. If it weren’t for Andrew Caldwell’s angst-fuelled performance as Carter—the overweight and over-horny kid who gets luckier than he has a right to with a sorority girl bimbette—the movie would have no fuel in its tank.
College could serve as a how-to textbook on hazing practices since most of the film’s overlong running time consists of pre-frosh humiliation pranks designed to turn stomachs if not dent funny bones. Our trio of underage drinkers fall for an offer from their frat boy hosts to do body-shots at an all-night party, not realizing that they will be drinking tequila poured from every hairy crack and crevice of a frat member known only as “Bearcat.” Geeky Morris (played by former American Idol wannabe Kevin Covais) endures showing up late for an important meeting with the university’s dean with dirty words and obscene graphics drawn on his face in magic marker. Sensitive budding photographer Kevin (Drake Bell) awakens to find himself naked and duct-tapped in a provocative position to a statue in the center of campus.
(If there’s a redeeming quality to College, it might be that it was filmed in New Orleans where its acts of public indulgence could be construed as a reminder of how poorly the place has been treated since Katrina, and in the face of more powerful storms hitting its shores. Or, maybe not.)
College is an infantile movie about an aspect of university life that reminds me why I avoided fraternities like the plague when I attended San Diego State University—California’s notorious “biggest party school” at the time. For some poor kids, fraternities and sororities will be their primary induction into socializing, sex and bad grades. In that regard, College does at least have an air of beer-soaked, puke-stained authenticity. But that hardly makes up for the numb abuse it administers on its teenaged target audience, even if they did sneak into the theater. MTW