On Animal House and Horrible Bosses

It didn’t dethrone Transformers from the top of the box office, but Horrible Bosses certainly held its own against it, and there’s already talk of a sequel. 

With the success of Horrible Bosses and Bridesmaids this summer, there’s hope that original movies can still be made, as well as signs that comedy’s entering a new age of raunch.

The Hollywood Reporter called Horrible Bosses “one of the top box office openings for raunchy R rated comedies,” and of course it hit the target age for this kind of movie, 18 to 24.

Brett Ratner, who produced the film, acknowledged it took a long time to get the movie made, six years, telling the Reporter, “In this day and age, you need a lot of patience if you are in the movie business.”


It’s also funny to think back at what brought about the new age of raunch in comedy films, 1978’s Animal House, which was the first R rated movie I ever saw as a kid, and at one point was the biggest grossing comedy of all time.

Many of the movies that copied Animal House were low budget drive-in fodder, and in the eighties flodded the midnight cable airwaves, although gratiuitous T&A has its time and place.

I still find the eighties raunchfest Hardbodies totally stupid hilarious, and the low budget T&A films that the low budget company Crown International put out in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, like Malibu Beach, My Tudor, and Van Nuys Boulevard, had a surprising tenderness to them.


By today’s standards, Animal House and Porky’s are pretty mild.

Still, after Animal House there were tons of “gross out” comedies that missed what made Animal House special.

As Jon Karp, author of the book A Futile and Stupid Gesture, a biography of Animal House and Caddyshack writer Doug Kenney, explained, “Animal House works on so many levels. [It] is many things, but it is not stupid. Beneath all of the ‘gross-out’ humor it is a smart and literate comedy that deftly blends satire, physical comedy, parody, high ideals, and bad taste without ever showing its seams.”