By Andrew Harwood

This week, rounding up the comedy genre of film, we’re focusing on the raucous, the rowdy and the out-right hectic anarchic comedy.

“Anarchic comedy” can be defined as a random variation of humor that centers around the lampoon of authority. The idea was conceived in the early twentieth century but bloomed in the 1930s thanks to the Marx brothers’ “no rules no restrictions” films such as “Duck Soup.” 

Aside from the Marx brothers, British comedy troupe Monty Python conquered the ‘70s and ‘80s with films such as “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “The Meaning of Life” and “Life of Brian.” 

Though these films exemplify the very definition of “anarchic comedy,” there is no other film that hits the nail on the head quite like “National Lampoon’s Animal House.”

Set in 1962, “Animal House” tells the story of the fictional Delta Tau Chi Fraternity and the battle between them and the stern Dean Vernon Wormer of Faber College. A bad reputation and lack of class doesn’t discourage freshmen Larry Kroger, played by Tom Hulce, and Kent Dorfman, played by Stephen Furst, to pledge the frat and experience an interesting — to say the least — first year. 

With the constant theme of rebellion against authority, including wild toga-themed parties, academic plagiarism, destruction of a town center and even the act of bringing a horse into the dean’s office, the brothers of Delta house know just how to stand their ground even if it means earning a cumulative chapter GPA of 2.0. 

Directed by John Landis and written by Harold Ramis, Chris Miller, and National Lampoon co-founder Douglas Kenney, “Animal House” relies on its clever writing and physical comedy to drive its action. From the infamous Belushi-initiated food fight scene and Hulce’s devil and angel bedroom talk, to a string of witty quotes, the Delta delinquents make their way through an infinite number of close-calls as well as far too many beer cans. 

With wonderful supporting performances from Tim Matheson as rush-chair, ladies-man “Otter,” the late John Belushi as house-party animal “Bluto” and a young Donald Sutherland as a wayward philosophy professor, “Animal House” brilliantly delivers a bursting comedic experience in a truly anarchic way.



  1. I am so glad you mentioned the Marx Brothers in your article, nice going.
    They are a gem that people must discover.

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