National Lampoon's Animal House is widely considered one of the best comedies of the '70s, and in 2008, Empire magazine went so far as to call it one of "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time." There's only one issue with that: Animal House is actually bad. It's really bad. In fact, Animal House sucks. It's one of those fondly remembered comedy movies that are actually awful, like Mrs. Doubtfire, My Best Friend's Wedding, or The Goonies, and there's a ton of evidence to support that.
Animal House is the story of the Delta Tau Chi house of Faber College, a fraternity full of alcoholic narcissists who do almost literally nothing but drink and vomit, and are painted as heroes for it. Meanwhile, the "evil" Dean is trying to shut them down, simply because they're a clear and present danger to his school and students. Animal House is wildly sexist, racist, and homophobic. It is a celebration of terrible human beings committing unspeakable acts under the guise of youthful exuberance.
The "heroes" of Animal House are the furthest thing from heroic there is. Take another watch, and you'll discover everything that is not-so-secretly deeply wrong about this cult classic comedy.
It Celebrates Alcoholism
The members of Delta house worship alcohol above all else. They do little more throughout the movie than binge drink and cause destruction. While heavy drinking is indeed an element of college, one cannot survive the experience if they do nothing more than drink.
What's more, drinking is depicted as cool, bordering on heroic. There's a triumphant scene in which Bluto chugs a bottle of Jack Daniels. It's the type of thing that young college students seriously hurt themselves trying to emulate.
The Deltas Effectively Force A Pledge To Murder A Horse
One of the pranks Bluto and co. pull on Dean Wormer is putting a horse in his office. After they do so, Bluto and Bruce give Flounder a gun and tell him to shoot the horse. Flounder doesn't know the gun is loaded with blanks, and for that reason feels pressured into murdering an animal. Although he doesn't actually shoot the horse, the gunshot causes the horse to have a heart attack and die anyway.
Obviously, the Deltas did not intend to kill the horse, but what they did intend was to potentially traumatize their pledge by making him think he was going to kill an innocent animal, which is precisely what ended up happening.
Bluto Is A Peeping Tom
In one of the film's most memorable set pieces, Bluto brings a ladder to a sorority house. He climbs up and spies on the unsuspecting women inside, who are simply trying to change and go to bed. It's a crass celebration of the male gaze.
The One Man Who Advocates For Education And Ethical Behavior Is The Villain
Dean Wormer is presented as a terrible person whose only aim is to shut down the Delta Tau Chi house. His goal, however, is beyond reasonable, considering how destructive a force the Deltas are to his college. It is his responsibility, in fact, to do what is in the best interest of the school, and a frat house that causes mayhem all over campus and shirks actual academic pursuits does nothing to better the university.
So why the vilification of higher learning and its institutions?