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4.8 out of 5 stars
Back to School [DVD]
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
There's wide agreement that the three greatest American film comedies are It Happened One Night from 1934, The Lady Eve from 1941 and 1986's Back to School. Some might quibble that It Happened One Night is no match for Miss Congeniality when it comes to female snorting or that The Lady Eve doesn't have the consistent belly laughs of Turner & Hooch, nor does it have a lovable, slobbering dog unless one counts Henry Fonda. Back to School, however, remains one of a kind.

But seriously, folks...I like this movie a lot. It's not just that the film pokes hard at complacent academia, or that there are a string of great comedy moments given to us by several first-rate actors. Mainly, there's Rodney Dangerfield, himself an idiosyncratic comedian who at times can be easy to get tired of. As Thornton Melon, an up-from-his-boot-straps wealthy clothier -- he owns the Tall & Fat stores -- who signs up as a college student determined to help his wimpish son become popular, Dangerfield is something else. He's not just the loud, wisecracking, eye-popping comedian. Dangerfield gives Melon a layer of good-natured intentions, likeability and even a little lost pathos that is eventually quite endearing.

Some parts of the movie don't work too well for me, mainly the parts of the storyline that involve Melon's son, played by Keith Gordon, his son's pal, played by Robert Downey, Jr., and his love interest, played by Sally Kellerman. Gordon is wimpish enough but, in my view, not very interesting. Downey is little more than an over-the-top exaggeration, and Kellerman puts me off with her above-the-salt manner and accent. But to compensate there is a great comedy turn by Ned Beatty as the obsequious university dean, Dean Martin, a man who knows endowments are worth more than an unseemly attention to student entry requirements. He'd be right at home in the Ivy League. Sam Kinison is terrific as a crackpot right-wing professor of history. Adrienne Barbeau is amusing and unlikable as Melon's high-spending wife who likes to show off her Klimt. And Paxton Whitehead as an over-civilized, professor of marketing with an aquiline nose can give us all useful lessons in condescension. The set up and follow-through with the Kurt Vonnegut joke is a classic. Part of the joy of the movie is watching how Melon deals with these people.

Still, what makes Back to School work is Rodney Dangerfield, his way with comedy, his delivery and his timing. I'll leave the movie where it started, with Thornton Melon's new television ad for Tall & Fat stores. I hope you can hear Dangerfield in your mind..."Hi there. Are you a large person? Pleasantly plump? A little on the hefty side, perhaps? Well, let's face it: Are you FAT? When you go jogging, do you leave potholes? When you make love, do you have to give directions? At the zoo, do the elephants throw YOU peanuts? Do you look at a menu and say 'OK'? Well, now you can eat all you want, because at Thornton Melon's "Tall & Fat" stores, we've got you covered. That's right. Fine woolen, and woolen-blend suits and sport coats, in all the larger sizes -- husky, stout, extra-stout, and the new Hindenburg line. And for you ladies we have caftans, muumuus, and our own exclusive A-frame in all colors and patterns. Yes, we have miles and miles of fabric. So take it from me, Thornton Melon, if you want to look thin, you hang out with fat people."

The DVD disc I have has wide screen on one side, pan-and-scan on the other, with no extras. It looks just fine.

(And for the record, I'm also fond of Miss Congeniality and Turner & Hooch.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 8 February 2005
When Thornton Melon was a young lad, his hard working father told him that he was a Melon and could do anything, but with out a formal education he was nothing. But Thornton instead went into business and made a fortune. Today he has a son and told him that he also is a Melon and can do anything. He sends his son to collage to get a formal education. Soon he finds his some can use some help and that tempered with a divorce spears Thornton to finally get the education he missed.
Rodney has been in many films. However this is the one I will always relate him to. Aside from his one liners and "I get no respect" gags he does a good job of bring out the best (and worst) abut collage. I will admit that he does not look like Bing Crosby in "High Time" (1960), however we have just as much fun watching him adjust and then do one better.
On of my favorite parts is when he has Kurt Vonnegut Jr. doing his homework; that is called delegation.
One annoying part of school is when someone says there is so much "picture framing material" and asks how do you make a picture twice as wide as it is high? People usually measure the picture for the frame. So when the professor said let's build a factory and Thorton Melon asks what are you going to make? I about fell off my seat.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2011
I was looking for comedy films. I know rodney dangerfield is one of the best comedians. I saw this film many years ago so I was looking for value for money. The cd arrived in good time.
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VINE VOICEon 1 January 2008
When Thornton Melon was a young lad, his hard working father told him that he was a Melon and could do anything, but with out a formal education he was nothing. But Thornton instead went into business and made a fortune. Today he has a son and told him that he also is a Melon and can do anything. He sends his son to collage to get a formal education. Soon he finds his some can use some help and that tempered with a divorce spears Thornton to finally get the education he missed.

Rodney has been in many films. However this is the one I will always relate him to. Aside from his one liners and "I get no respect" gags he does a good job of bring out the best (and worst) abut collage. I will admit that he does not look like Bing Crosby in "High Time" (1960); however we have just as much fun watching him adjust and then do one better.

On of my favorite parts is when he has Kurt Vonnegut Jr. doing his homework; that is called delegation.

One annoying part of school is when someone says there is so much "picture framing material" and asks how do you make a picture twice as wide as it is high? People usually measure the picture for the frame. So when the professor said let's build a factory and Thorton Melon asks what are you going to make? I about fell off my seat.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2013
Rodney Dangerfield, need I say more. A classic, worth the money, good laugh and current generation laughed and loved the storyline. A keeper, perfect quality, thanks!
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on 9 November 2014
Rodney Dangerfield as the wise old street smart millionaire decides to get back an education to inspire his son not to drop out of University. The jokes come wall to wall, but rarely does one make you laugh. The story is very 80s, which I usually love but this one keeps hitting the wall with scant reward.

Dangerfield gives it his all, and sometimes the jokes work. But he has little support. Keith Gordon is pap, and Robert Downey JR makes no impact. There are some other familar faces but they could have been played by another million actors. It all comes to a head when Gordon attempts and succeeds to make it out with the 6ft tall stunning female student, a woman that could quite possibly fit the entire Keith Gordon in her back pocket.

It's all too predicatble and generic I'm afraid. And that is disapointing because for all my sins I do love movies from this period in time. Back to School isn't all bad though- certainly worth a look if you like your 80s films- however nostalgia this time really did play tricks on my memories.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 30 November 2008
This is a great comedy. Dangerfield is the miliionaire slob almost an expansion of his Al Cervic character in Caddyshack. If you liked him in that you will love him in this.
Here he returns to school to help prop up his rather limp son played by Keith Gordon. He was the geek in Christine. I found him quite irritating simply because it wasnt credible that the irrepressible Dangerfield would have such a drippy kid. However an excellent supporing cast and a classic high diving sequence makes this Dangerfields best foray into film. Avoid this movie at your peril. Its very,very funny. If you like what you see here I suggest you give Easy Money a look. Rodney stars alongside a young Joe Pesci, I think its only available in the Region 1 format however.
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on 6 January 2014
A very funny 80s film, bringing the late Rodney Dangerfield back to his true form , a sad loss to the movie world, but with filims like this and caddyshack the legend will live on
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on 10 December 2013
Very happy with purchase, original watched in 90's was told you could no longer get this on back catalogue arrived quicker than stated and very securely packaged
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on 2 February 2014
Old school film with good price. I like sucj a good comedies which You may benefit by Yourself or with family . Best note :)
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