...a disaster, not of vulgarity but of boredom.

John J. Puccio's picture
John J.

"Soph·o·mor·ic, adj.
1. of or pertaining to a sophomore or sophomores.
2. suggestive of or resembling the traditional sophomore; intellectually pretentious, overconfident, conceited, etc., but immature.
—Syn: childish, adolescent, juvenile; see 'Sorority Boys.'

Stu·pid, adj.
1. lacking ordinary quickness and keenness of mind; dull.
2. characterized by or proceeding from mental dullness; foolish; senseless: a stupid question.
3. tediously dull, esp. due to lack of meaning or sense; inane; pointless: a stupid party.
4. annoying or irritating; troublesome
5. in a state of stupor; stupefied.
6. See 'Sorority Boys.'"
--Random House Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language

I'm kidding, of course. Random House doesn't list "Sorority Boys," the 2002 bomb from Touchstone Pictures, as an example of sophomoric stupidity. But I'm sure it's only because the dictionary was published before the film came out.

Cross dressing has been a staple of film comedy for most of the twentieth century and beyond. Frat-house comedy has been around a little less long, but has provided the screen with more than its share of good laughs. I suppose the producers of "Sorority Boys" figured if "Tootsie" and "Some Like It Hot" could entertain audiences, why not combine the tried-and-true boys-as-girls motif with the frat-house grossness of "Animal House" and see what would happen. What happened was a disaster, not of vulgarity but of boredom.

What do you mean, what's it about? I just told you. It's about guys dressing up as girls. That's about it. The masquerade is a flimsy excuse for the filmmakers to get inside a girls' sorority house, show us a few glimpses of female breasts and such (what's a "such"?), and provide a couple of purely puerile titillating situations. There are also a few halfhearted attempts at exposing rampant male sexism, but these scenes are obvious and cheap, and they're undoubtedly included only as a rationalization for the rest of the story line.

OK, you force it out of me. The plot deals with three fellows who make up the social committee of a fraternity labeled KOK. Yes, KOK, just as it's pronounced. That's the level of humor in "Sorority Boys." The guys are Dave (Barry Watson), Adam (Michael Rosenblum), and Doofer (Harland Williams, who's about twice the age of the others because his character is so dumb he can't graduate), and they're accused by their fraternity president, Spence (Brad Beyer), of stealing the frat's money. The three boys are innocent but thrown out of the house, and in order to redeem themselves they try to sneak back in and obtain a video tape that exonerates them by incriminating the president in the crime. But how to sneak back in? By dressing up as girls, naturally, and infiltrating a beer-and-sex party. Although they aren't recognized, their plan doesn't work because this time they get thrown out of the house for being too ugly. Somehow, they land on the doorstep of a nearby sorority house, the Delta Omicron Gammas (or DOGs). These ladies are dedicated feminists who offer to take in the poor, unfortunate "girls," and having nowhere else to turn, the boys (as girls) accept. And so it goes.

The DOG sorority declares war on the KOK fraternity for exploiting women; the three heroes begin to enjoy being girls; and nothing is very funny. No one thinks the boys are anything but unsightly females, and in a farce I can accept that. What I couldn't accept was that the movie is a one-joke affair; beyond the boys-dressing-as-girls gambit, which wears thin after about two minutes, there's nothing else.

The gags are incredibly dumb. Doofer shows a sorority sister how to shave her mustache. The frat president wears a peculiar pompadour hair style and talks in a peculiar voice. Almost all the girls in the story are either homely, neurotic losers or ravishing airheads, only one in-between. The head of the DOG sorority, Leah (Melissa Sagemiller), is supposed to be an unattractive nerd like the rest of the women in her house, but she's a gorgeous little blonde who falls for Dave (as a girl). All of the males, including their fathers, are male chauvinist pigs. That sort of stuff. Expect a sappy ending, too.

The picture quality on this one is hard to judge because it varies so much. In some scenes the 1.74:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen image seems nearly flawless, bright and well delineated. The blacks are solid and help reproduce a convincingly three-dimensional environment. In other scenes the picture looks too dark or the darker areas of the screen veil inner detail. There's always a small degree of glossiness to the picture, and there are instances of jagged, unsteady lines. Then, too, the brightness I mentioned can sometimes be brighter than reality. So, take your pick of ratings from 5-10. Overall, I'd say the video quality was a little above average but not much.

There is less question about the sound, which is uniformly good; it just doesn't have much to do. The surround channels are used mainly for musical ambience, a ricochetting gunshot, and few doors opening and closing, things like that. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track does provide a nice, subtle sound, noticeable on plucked guitar strings, combined with a sharp, clean transient response; although, oddly, I didn't find the front-channel stereo spread to be particularly wide. Anyway, no complaints.

You won't find much here of interest. No documentaries, no commentaries, no foreign languages, not even a trailer. What you do get is a brief, two-minute behind-the-scenes featurette promo, "Boys Will Be Boys"; a multi-angle segment highlighting the points of view of several different filmmakers, "All the Angles"; some Sneak Peeks at other Buena Vista titles; and a record-low (for Buena Vista) ten scene selections (yes, ten, as in not even a dozen). English is the only spoken language, but there are French and Spanish subtitles and English captions for the hearing impaired.

Parting Shots:
I didn't like the contemporary college raunch movie "Van Wilder" as much as my associate who reviewed it, but compared to "Sorority Boys," it's a benchmark for high humor, wit, and innovation.

"Sorority Boys" is not offensive despite its R-rated sex, profanity, nudity, and vulgarity; it's just boring as all get out. It's merely an hour and a half of dumb, smutty, slovenly, lecherous people doing dumb, smutty, slovenly, lecherous things. Not my idea of a good time. Since the movie is an obvious rip-off of the seminal college frat-house comedy "Animal House" from 1978 (complete with a cameo by John Vernon, who played Dean Wormer in the earlier film), why not buy the original if you don't already own it? You're better off.


Film Value