NATIONAL LAMPOON'S DORM DAZE
Since the later 1990s, National Lampoon has accelerated their branding of situational college comedies. Generally premised on star-crossed lovers facing the odds, the National Lampoon films are now legion and are almost a unique genre unto themselves. DORM DAZE is a bit different - combining the hi-jinx of NATIONAL LAMPOON'S ANIMAL HOUSE (still the "high point" of the genre) with a virtual encyclopedia of tropes about college students.
An ensemble job through and through, DORM DAZE is about the lives of the inhabitants of a dorm at Billingsley University on one of the last days of the year. Finals are almost over, Christmas break is near - the laws of decorum are temperarily suspended, authority has no jurisdiction. Isolating singular storylines is impossible - David and Scott Hillenbrand's film is a series of confusing narrative threads piled high. The sex lives of the students are complicated by an incoming foreign exchange student (at least three characters pretend to fill that role), an angry prostitute, and rampant accusations of buggery, virginity, infidelity, and wife-beating. Its fun for the whole pep squad!
Think of it as a recipe. Start with a story straight out of Shakespeare (the movie is a virtual remake of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING after chugging a Red Bull), garnish with obscene amounts of dramatic irony, and stuff the whole thing in a dorm. Its Marx Brothers (ROOM SERVICE in particular) meets CARRY ON meets AMERICAN PIE. Dubious achievements: Tatyana Ali's first role in a film, a compendium of stock collegiate actors from the early 2000's (where are they now?), and enough misunderstanding to undo the founding premises of multiculturalism. Pair with NATIONAL LAMPOON'S GOING THE DISTANCE for a night of shock and awe.
- Kevin Flanagan