Find That Film: Back to School

It’s hard to believe this is episode 23 of season 3. Mainly because I’ve shoved off the writing to ManWithPez and lost count of where we are. Where are we? It’s 1986 and Rodney Dangerfield stars in the successful comedy Back to School.

Alan Metter directs a pretty tight movie. Many things were cut and he still gave us a funny heart filled 80s flick. He had a lot of help with the script. Rodney Dangerfield, Greg Fields, and Dennis (Greg?) Snee came up with the premise. These are iconic comedic writers who were very close to finding the right idea. Harold Ramis was brought in to help comedy experts Steven Kampmann, Will Porter, Peter (PJ) Torokvie iron out the details. All in all, it’s a great movie which succeeds in being funny.

Thornton Melon (Dangerfield) misses his kid and decides to visit Jason (Keith Gordon) at college. Once there it’s clear Jason is struggling to fit in so Thornton enrolls to encourage his son. Jason and his roommate Derek (Robert Downey Jr) exist on the outskirts of college life. While they don’t want to change, they do want to be liked. Rich uncouth Thornton annoys his professors and flounders in class. Jason struggles to hold his own on the diving team against Chas* (William Zabka).

Dangerfield’s delivery is bolstered by a great supporting cast. Sally Kellerman is great as the sexy lit professor. Sam Kinison breaks out as the history teacher from hell. Burt Young, Ned Beatty, Terry Farrell, Paxton Whitehead, Adrienne Barbeau, and M Emmet Walsh root this movie on solid ground.

Will Thornton Melon pass? Will Jason find his courage both on the diving board and with the ladies? How much will Vanessa Melon not get in the divorce?

This movie was advertised as a fish out water movie about an old rich guy who goes to college. That’s not not all this movie has to offer. Back to School is about the father/son relationship and figuring out you’re okay with being you. Acceptance.

Here we have a film with good reviews, lots of returns, and very little scandal behind the scenes; why are we covering this? This movie is not well remembered. I don’t mean to say people think poorly of it, I mean they don’t remember it. Dangerfield does a great job here and the supporting cast lifts the movie even higher. If you’re sitting around watching college movies you should find that film Back to School.

 

*Completely misused

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