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PCR # 183  (Vol. 4, No. 39)  This edition is for the week of September 22--28, 2003.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"National Lampoon's
Dorm Daze"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Three stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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National Lampoon Productions     
Starring: Patrick Renna, Danielle Fishel, Jennifer Lyons, James DeBello, Boti Bliss and Chris Owen
Directed by: David Hillenbrand and Scott Hillenbrand
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 36 mins

25 years ago, the National Lampoon people decided to get into the film business. Their first effort, Animal House, not only made John Belushi a star, but it introduced a new generation (myself included) to toga parties. Since then, many a film has appeared under the Lampoon's banner. There were a few good ones (Vacation and Van Wilder) There were a few more stinkers (Class Reunion and Class of '86). Happily, Dorm Daze is a welcome silver anniversary present.

Set at a small college campus a few days before Christmas, Dorm Daze is a slap-stick series of mistaken identities, professions, nationalities and hand bags. Styles (Renna) is sick and tired of his brothers (Owens) moping for the girl across the hall. He decides that he will hire a hooker to rid his brother of his self-described "special gift." Meanwhile, another girl finds that she is in love with a student who everyone, except her, knows is gay. In another part of the house, two snobby girls (Fishel and Lyons) spend the better part of their day dishing on anyone who passes by. Oh, and don't forget the exchange student. And did I mention the mysterious handbag with $30,000 in it?

A definite ensemble piece, there are no fewer then five storylines going on at the same time, and it is a credit to the Hillenbrand brothers that they weave them together so seamlessly. Many kudos also to a young cast of slightly known actors who I predict will go on to much bigger things. Renna, who many will remember as catcher Hamilton Porter in the film, Sandlot, is perfect as Styles. His loud actions and boisterous outbursts are the films highlight. Some of the cast has already appeared in other "teen" films, including Detroit Rock City, Can't Hardly Wait and the American Pie series. Being relatively unknowns to mainstream movie goers makes their performances even more genuine and believable.

I had the opportunity this week to meet Renna, Fishel, Lyons and the Hillenbrand brothers. While my son, Phillip, was angling for Fishel's phone number, I asked Scott Hillenbrand if the film had originally been a Lampoon production or if it was something they picked up. He informed me that Lampoon had seen the finished film, found it funny and decided to distribute it. A wise choice. Dorm Daze certainly embodies everything that made "Animal House" and "Vacation" stand alone comedies. On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "National Lampoon's Dorm Daze"  One and a half stars

This week's movie review of "National Lampoon's Dorm Daze" is ©2003 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2003, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.