Back to School Alan Metter

This ’80s slob comedy isn’t all that good but it could have been worse; it gets by on a certain warmth and charm that keeps you from getting too upset at the cheap jokes. Rodney Dangerfield stars as Thornton Melon, the owner of a chain of big and tall shops who never went to college and never wanted to. However, his son Jason (Keith Gordon) is floundering at a distinguished university and wants to drop out. So Thornton enrols with his son, becoming the BMOC in the process and through flamboyance and dishonesty inadvertently overshadows his son. This, of course, is the springboard for wild parties, resentful frat boys, treacherous teachers and a romance with Sally Kellerman, with a big climax on a diving board. I can’t say that I laughed much watching the film — Dangerfield’s act is a little too broad for my tastes — but I was surprised at how I didn’t resent it like so many other filler comedies of the era. The star proves highly personable, has great chemistry with the incomparable Kellerman and radiates enthusiasm to the point that you won’t feel overly cheated even if you don’t particularly like the movie. And though Robert Downey Jr. grates in a badly drawn campus radical role, the film gets nostalgia points for the obligatory appearance of Oingo Boingo. Extras include an extremely thorough "making of” doc that features most of the participants overestimating the production, a similarly methodical dissection of the film’s climactic "triple Lindy” dive, a tribute to the generous but depressive Dangerfield, a brief, pointless clip remembering cameo performer Kurt Vonnegut, two ’80s featurettes on supporting cast member Burt Young and that dive again, and a photo gallery. (MGM)