Proving the maxim that the dumbest humor requires the smartest people, Animal House is still sharper and funnier than the numerous films that follow its template 30 years later. The National Lampoon brand is box-office poison nowadays, but in its ’70s heyday, it meant social satire from gutter minds. So in addition to the tits, beer and wanton destruction in every other frame, Harold Ramis and Lampoon alums Doug Kenney and Chris Miller drop indictments of Nixon-era conservatism and corrupt civic leaders. Landis’s manic directing style makes it all work, creating one iconic, quotable scene after another. (Anytime someone starts a food fight in a cafeteria or dances to “Shout!” at a wedding, this film is the reason.) John Belushi’s performance gets all the notice, but amid the chaos, every actor is note-perfect.
The 30th-anniversary gift set, packaged in a Delta-House-shaped box, comes with a “yearbook” featuring stills of the cast. Special features include two Scene It?–style trivia games, a tongue-in-cheek “Where are they now?” featurette with most of the original cast reprising their film roles (Tom Hulce apparently couldn’t make time in his curiously busy schedule) and two retrospective docs that cover similar territory but still manage to be entertaining, like hearing old friends retell the same stories over and over.