Today: April 24, 2024

A Teen Classic Double Bill

This month brings back to home entertainment not one but two of the finest teen comedies to ever grace cinema, both boasting gorgeous new masters and special features. Both equally influential titles in the subgenre, these films’ far-reaching influence on comedy are still felt today.

“TOGA! TOGA! TOGA!”

First up, from Universal Home Entertainment comes the 4K UHD debut of National Lampoon’s Animal House, John Landis’ 1978 classic that effectively birthed and defined the ‘gross out’ teen comedy as we know it. Packed with vulgar gags, nudity, and John Belushi’s most beloved performance, the film garnered an estimated gross of more than $141 million in theatrical and home video – which, against its $3 million budget, makes it the highest grossing comedy of its time. Robert Martin wrote in The Globe and Mail that Animal House “is so gross and tasteless you feel you should be disgusted but it’s hard to be offended by something that is so sidesplittingly funny” – and in the last 43 years, the film has lost none of that power. 

The new 4K UHD release from Universal is a sight to behold for fans of the film who have had to deal with the mediocre Blu-ray disc over the last decade. The film looks better than it ever has, offering the final word on the pioneering gross-out classic. Special features are recycled from previous releases which perhaps may be a disappointment to some – a fresher retrospective certainly wouldn’t go amiss – but this is a film with such infectious energy and hilarious vulgarity, it speaks for itself. It is a comedy masterpiece, and an essential purchase for any film collector with a 4K set-up.

ANIMAL HOUSE is available on 4K UHD from Universal Home Entertainment on May 17

“All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine.”

And joining The Criterion Collection with a gorgeous new restoration is Amy Heckerling’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High, released just four years after the Animal House opened its doors. Written by Cameron Crowe adapted from his 1981 non-fiction book of the same name, the film chronicles a school year in the lives of an ensemble cast of characters and accurately captures all the details of teenage life. Ranked at #2 on Entertainment Weekly’s 50 Best High School Movies (with the top spot going to John Hughes classic The Breakfast Club), this enduring pop-culture touchstone is absolutely deserving of a spot in Criterion’s prestigious series – if only for giving us Nicolas Cage’s feature film debut!

This new restoration of the film – coming from a 4K digital transfer supervised by director Heckerling – breathes new life into the film, while the inclusion of the infamous television version of the film (featuring deleted and alternate scenes) is an exciting addition for fans. New and archival special features make up this definitive release of the 80s classic, which is just as entertaining now as it has always been. And Sean Penn’s iconic performance as legendary stoner Jeff Spicoli just gets better with age.

FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH is available on Blu-ray as part of The Criterion Collection from May 17

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