Ranking the Animal House clips on Fandango
Animal House reaches its official 40-year anniversary this Saturday. In a just pop-culture nation, all TV providers will have at least one channel ready to give Delta devotees a weekend fix.
Until then, most of us must rely on subscriptions, home-owned copies or online snippets of the definitive college comedy. When one lacks the time to binge like Bluto, Fandango MOVIECLIPS offers bite-size clips to assuage one’s yearnings.
The prolific free clip archivist has 10 Animal House scenes on its YouTube channel. Although some classic moments are excluded, including all featuring Otis Day, the selections are solid nonetheless. They are each central to the overlapping storylines of reveling in freedom, chasing fun and confronting uptight administrators and their student allies.
Within that range, the film’s 10 funniest, most resonant moments stack up as follows. Just be wary of NSFW language in almost every clip.
10. “Flounder Gets Even”
The pitch-dark comic twist of doing what one intends to avoid under the deed’s guise hardly holds up today. With that said, this sequence does what it is meant to do by building on Flounder’s misgivings. The rock is Delta’s terrifying tasks and the hard place is Niedermayer.
As a mild bonus, the late John Belushi exemplifies his exception to the rule that physical comedy cannot thrive alone. His protracted wordless lurking in plain site before the administrative building is not quite gold, but certainly silver.
9. “A Real Zero”
There is no reasoning with the adamantly inert or the inertly adamant. That is unless their inertia precludes their adamancy’s effect.
When Delta’s returnees express their collective displeasure with prospective pledge Kent Dorfman, Otter comes to his defense. Within seconds, his speech is cut off by the same beer-can barrage.
Of course, Dorfman is welcomed in, but the backhanded compliments continue. This scene’s top takeaway is Bluto rechristening the legacy from Harrisburg, “Flounder.”
8. “Enter the Deathmobile”
This is mostly the messy culmination of Delta’s preparation for the final bout in this campus culture clash. The defeated dean can do little more than state the obvious while parade-goers brace for the bleachers’ destruction.
“I hate those guys,” says a man with sparse company.
7. “Toga! Toga!”
Humor-wise, there is not much to draw beyond Otter and Bluto leading a now-iconic chant. More profoundly, though, it punctuates Otter’s to-heck-with-this-rigged-fight leadership statement.
One also has to admire the way everyone gels back together so soon after their previous team effort backfires. Even more after a few random pledges are briefly thrown under the bus when Dean Wormer catches them all drinking.
6. “Bluto’s A Zit”
Belushi offers more than visuals in this scene. First, his character gets helps from the soundtrack while collecting a week’s worth of meals for one sitting. We can all guess he does not know many disciplines, but does know that he loves to eat.
After calling back to Niedermayer’s various equine-induced pains, Bluto sits down to instigate a classic illustration of the snobs-versus-slobs dynamic later made famous in Caddyshack posters.
5. “Only We Can Do That to Our Pledges”
Previously mentioned but not seen, Niedermayer establishes himself as the dean’s perfect henchman. Like Wormer, he has a way of squandering some seriousness in his speech.
Twice in this scene, he spits his P’s in “pledge pin” while hounding Flounder. Unbeknownst to him, two Delta leaders are about to punish him for messing with one of their own. The result razes his respectability all the more.
Niedermayer’s inevitable defeat by the antiheroes is a sound appetizer for when they topple their top foe.
4. “Finished at Faber”
Each comment on the five newly expelled students’ performance is a climb up the dry-humor ladder.
For a few seconds, it is hard to imagine Dean Wormer topping “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.” It squashes Flounder’s pathetic attempt at sweet-talking his way out of the consequences. In turn, it builds up to the precipitation at the end of the scene.
But in between, another Wormer line spawns a gift for sports journalists. Blutarky is now synonymous with failing to break a single goose egg in a given success percentage.
3. “Double Secret Probation”
In his first scene, Dean Wormer scores a hat trick in one shift.
“Of course I’m talking about Delta, you twerp!” “This year, we’re going to grab the bull by the balls and kick those punks off campus!” “The time has come for someone to put his foot down, and that foot is me.”
Forgetting that his most-despised fraternity is already on probation, then ordering a questionable disciplinary upgrade is one thing. The juxtaposition between Wormer’s unchippable seriousness and his erratic grasp on idioms cements the plot’s tone.
From these introductions, we know we can look forward to the antagonist’s anti-Delta crusade backfiring.
2. “Delta’s on Trial”
Otter questioning difference between pre-med and pre-law is the least of this epic moment. Comparatively speaking, his sly wink at the dean does not add much either. Neither does the brief shot of Katy’s uncharacteristic laughter at Delta’s antics.
Those elements are a tasty comedic garnish, but they do not make the meat of the scene. Rather, it is Otter’s authoritative delivery and somehow brilliant spin on what should be an open-and-shut case against his party.
In the movie, Otter’s eloquence sustains his fraternity’s fighting spirit and frustrates Wormer all the more. The question of which side is winning gets uproariously ambiguous.
In real life, Tim Matheson’s delivery is screened in public-speaking classes without a smidge of irony. (This author knows from personal experience.)
1. “Bluto’s Big Speech”
While Otter recovers from his pummeling, Bluto handles the floor, albeit without initial success.
Naturally, the mix-up of the Japanese and Germans has nabbed its own legacy. But Bluto’s refusal to carry dead Delta weight inspires a still-battered Otter to come off the bench. Together they achieve one of top mixtures of absurdity and inspiration in cinema history.
“This situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part.”
“We’re just the guys to do it.”
Yes, they are a ragtag, relatively disorganized bunch. But the Delta pledges get by on their unified sense of purpose. So much for putting the foot that is Dean Wormer down on them.