Review: National Lampoon’s Animal House Blu-ray

National Lampoon's Animal House Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: John Landis | CAST: TomHulce, John Belushi, Tim Matheson, John Vernon, Bruce McGill, Peter Riegert, Karen Allen, Kevin Bacon
7/26/11 | PRICE: Blu-ray $26.98
featurettes, Scene It quiz, Universal Blu-ray apps
R | 109 min. | Comedy | 1.85:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 |  English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Animal House movie scene

"Toga, toga, toga," Belushi cried...and comedy history was made in Animal House.

Animal House is always a happy buzz for me. Whether I bump into it on premium cable or pop in the DVD or, hell, even catch it in its edited version on a local station, the movie always delivers. That said, watching Animal House on Blu-ray disc for the first time was … okay. Not stellar, really, but just good. Or good enough, maybe.

But then what did I expect? Part of the classic 1978 college comedy’s appeal is its wild-and-wooly texture, from which emerges a fresh, young energy and cleverness. It’s a great comedy housed in a sloppy casing. Maybe I thought said comedy would be magnified in the movie’s high-definition presentation. But that wasn’t the case.

I don’t have to wax technological to say that the film simply looked flat on Blu-ray. The colors were all there, but for all their, er, color, they didn’t have a crisp veneer — almost as if they were spread out too thinly on the screen. Where there should have been vibrancy, there was only the movie, its content providing all the appeal (as it always does).

And the familiar cast of faces didn’t shine. They all looked a little dull and pasty, even John Belushi with his three-day stubble. Overall, my Blu-ray screening wasn’t an outstanding presentation of Animal House — it was still just Animal House.

I actually enjoyed the Blu-ray’s audio aspects more than the video, particularly the music, with the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track offering lively readings of the music of Sam Cooke, Lloyd Williams, Paul & Paula and Elmer Bernstein’s rich score. And I had a no problem discerning the dialog (which I could probably recite in its entirety if I had to).

The supplemental package culls from all the previous DVD editions that have come out over the years, so there’s really nothing new except for a couple of Universal Blu-ray music and bookmark features, a picture-and-picture function that takes its material from the earlier featurettes and the Pocket Blu app, which allows smartphones to interact with the Blu-ray player.

So my answer to the question, “Is the Animal House Blu-ray worth buying if you already own a DVD version (or two)?” is gonna sound like a cop-out, but I want to be fair to those high-definition adapters who love the film and who probably won’t be offered another version on Blu-ray: Animal House is always worth it.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.