Back to School: Extra-Curricular Edition

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Thornton Melon (Rodney Dangerfield) came from a humble background, he never even received a proper education, but he became a success in business. His Tall and Fat stores have been a financial boon and his likable persona endears him to those around him, customers or not. But his life isn’t paradise, his wife is cheating on him and he misses his son, who is off at college. When Thornton decides enough is enough with his unfaithful spouse, he surmises that the time for a change is now, so he heads off to join his son at Grand Lakes University. Of course, the dead is hesitant to allow a sixty year old man entrance as a freshman, but a generous donation resolves any doubts. At first, his son Jason is reluctant to accept his father’s presence, but the two soon begin to have a great time, even as Thornton becomes the campus’ most popular student. But will Thornton’s wild ways cost him and his son an education, or will Thornton prove he belongs?

All I can say about this special edition of Back to School is…its about time. I’ve always loved this movie and given that it was a box office success, I can’t be alone in that sentiment. So now MGM has listened at last, giving us a new anamorphic treatment and even some supplements. The movie itself is one I could watch over and over, as Rodney Dangerfield is hilarious and the pieces just to seem to fall into place. Dangerfield uses his brutish charm to perfection, with some great lines and reactions, playing off his co-stars to maximum gain. Those around him are solid too, but without a doubt, Dangerfield runs this show, even with a memorable appearance by Sam Kinison to compete with. The story is wild, but it should be and the premise is squeezed to produce every possible laugh, even out of subtle moments. Back to School is a fun movie, one that never fails to entertain and MGM’s new disc is terrific, so this release earns a high recommendation.

Video: How does it look?

Back to School is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. At last, we have an anamorphic widescreen release of this movie, I couldn’t be more pleased. This is a nice improvement over the previous transfer, a crisper and better framed presentation. The print still has a few flaws here and there, but none are too serious. If you’ve seen a lot of 80s movies, then you know grain is often an issue and that is no different here. But the image still looks clean and sharp, with a more refined presence than before. The wait has finally ended and fans should be quite satisfied.

Audio: How does it sound?

This is a pretty laid back, dialogue driven comedy, so the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack doesn’t get to flex much muscle. A few scenes do require some extra oomph, such as the parties and live music, but most are rather reserved. After all, you don’t want to miss any hilarious one liners, right? So the music sounds good, sound effects are well handled, so what about vocals? The dialogue is the focus and as such, all the vocals are loud and clear. This disc also includes a stereo soundtrack, French and Spanish language tracks, and subtitles in English and Spanish.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The extras kick off with School Daze, an eighteen minute retrospective with various cast & crew interviews. The memories seem to focus on Dangerfield, as expected, but other production anecdotes are also shared, as well as some film clips. Paying Respect is a ten minute tribute to Dangerfield, a very appropriate inclusion. This is by no means an A&E Biography piece, but it provides a nice look back at Dangerfield’s career. There is also a quick look at the film’s famous dive The Triple Lindy, an odd, but still welcome addition to the disc. This disc also includes two vintage featurettes, some still photos, three television promotional spots, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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