Directed by: Deb Hagan
Starring: Drake Bell, Andrew Caldwell, Kevin Covais, Nick Zano, Haley Bennett
I watch a lot of bad movies. It’s an unavoidable occupational hazard. Because of this, it’s easy to become desensitized to all of the charmless, virulent garbage I end up watching. But every so often, a movie comes along that’s so actively incompetent, so horrendously insipid, unoriginal and downright appalling that it’s honestly depressing in its unabashed ineptitude. Deb Hagan’s College is such a movie. It’s a movie so awful that everyone involved—even the caterers and the key grips—should be blacklisted from even the worst pictures, so as not to accidentally taint the comparative artistic integrity of the next National Lampoon flick. And every print of the film should be dropped into some New Mexico landfill next to old Atari E.T. video games.
The movie attempts to be yet another teenage sex romp set in the halls of higher learning, modeled after Animal House (1978) and Revenge of the Nerds (1984), while simultaneously being burdened with a bad case of Superbad (2007) envy. And by “envy” I mean it’s a “complete rip-off.” Let’s see, we have a stoic, responsible lead (inexplicable tween heartthrob, Nickelodeon star and vague James Van Der Beek look-alike Drake Bell, Superhero Movie), his overweight, crass schlub of a best friend (Andrew Caldwell, Drillbit Taylor) and their nerdy, socially incompetent buddy (one-time American Idol contestant Kevin Covais)—all on the verge of finishing high school.
But it would seem Hagan thought she could shirk any comparison to Superbad if she just increased everything that was wrong with Superbad by tenfold, while completely missing that that movie at least tried to have a point. Sure, there’s no menstrual blood in this film, but we do get vomit, close-ups of feces, urine-filled water balloons, used condoms, pig excrement and a urinating Verne “Mini-Me” Troyer—not to mention the cornucopia of bare skin being displayed by people who should be paying the audience to look at them naked, not the other way around. All of this is wrapped up in a hackneyed plot about three friends traveling off to weekend orientation at fictional Freidmont University (or FU for short, if you need another example of the level of humor we’re working with here). The trio attempts to have some sort of wild weekend full of beer, broads and boobies—that is until it’s all thwarted by the pranks of evil frat boys.
None of the twentysomethings attempting to play high-school students or the thirtysomethings attempting to play college kids are worth a damn (there is a reason Troyer’s the closest thing to a name in the entire movie), though Caldwell, as the foul-mouthed Carter, takes the urinal cake in the incompetence department. An obnoxiously puerile mix of John Candy, Chris Farley and a Port-A-John, he’s well on his way to becoming the homeless man’s Jonah Hill. It’s no wonder his previous roles come with credits like “Stoned High-School Kid,” “Sad Dork” and “Sweaty Student.” Talk about range.
So who, exactly, was this movie made for? Who was clamoring for one more college raunch fest? Well, judging by the weekend box-office estimates, the answer would be no one. To put that into perspective, Wall-E has been screened two-and-a-half months and still made only $30 less per theater over the weekend. If any good can come out of this, it’s that I hope that Hagan can one day be looked upon as a great feminist. She’s not only shown that a woman can make a movie just as infantile and asinine as any man, but she’s also made a film that’s so agonizing that men everywhere can finally feel an approximation of the pain involved with natural child birth. Rated R for pervasive crude and sexual content, nudity, language, drug and alcohol abuse.