Knowledge is good

Stop the Presses column by Chris Graham

I went to see “Talladega Nights” over the weekend, and, well …

It wasn’t “Animal House.”

Here we go again – he’s going to go on about how “Animal House” changed the world.

That is how I judge the quality of a comedy.

“Seven years of college down the drain. Might as well join the Peace Corps.”

Yes, that “Animal House.”

Most comedies don’t seem to know how to end – and “Talladega Nights” fell into that trap as well.

It was like – OK, let’s poke fun at NASCAR. Just like another Will Farrell star vehicle, “Anchorman,” seemed to be motivated by the theme, “OK, let’s poke fun at TV news.”

That seems to be the driving force behind the genre – let’s poke fun at whatever is in front of us, poke fun at ourselves, have somebody throw up or fart or something, then call it a day.

Chris Graham is now above telling fart jokes? Somebody call the police – whoever wrote this is obviously an impostor.

Ahem.

My point is that you have to bring the movie home – and not many comedies seem to be able to do that.

And honestly, comedy isn’t alone in having this problem.

In this day and age of test-marketing plot twists and endings that lead us to the most saccharine of either that we can get on a consistent basis, there are only a few mysteries and action-adventure flicks that rise up from above the crowd.

Name one.

OK, so I’m being nice there – everything, basically, made from 1988 on pretty much stinks.

Which brings me back to “Animal House” – which pokes fun at college life (Faber College motto: “Knowledge is good”), women’s lib (“I hear Dickinson girls are fast. What should I say?” “Mention modern art, civil rights or folk music, and you’re in like Flynn”), political spin (“You can’t hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn’t we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg – isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we’re not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America”).

And then, and yes, it can happen, they bring the movie home.

Like you’re going to bring this column hope. We can only hope.

The extended climax that features the Deltas rampaging through town in a weak and pathetic effort to get their fraternity back is the mother-of-all-comedy-movie endings.

Sure beats two NASCAR drivers in a footrace to the checkered flag.

You saw “Talladega Nights,” too?

Yes. Way, way too much man-love for me.

I’d have to concur.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Well, maybe here …

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is now available at a special pre-sale discounted price of $20. The book is expected to ship by May 15, 2019, and expected to retail for $25.
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The book, with additional reporting by Scott Ratcliffe and Zach Pereles, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
 
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