Of course, the National Lampoon (and, over here, Carry On…) tradition was practically a subgenre unto itself – a formula dictating the amount of time that could pass before another gross-out gag, a racial stereotype, a scene built around (and ultimately reinforcing) gender roles, and the display of a new pair of breasts. That’s not to sweepingly condemn: audiences had expectations and the films indeed delivered, without the pretentiousness (or distraction) of, say, a cohesive narrative. I can only guess Animal House‘s reputation is built on it actually having some funny jokes. Belushi’s performance, for instance, is a classic instance of comedy in spite of the material.
Yet the film as vessel for the stories which inspired it has been a clear influence on, not just frat flicks but a whole array of the newer mutations of the sex-com, even films I enjoy like Superbad. A guilty pleasure of mine was the ABC series Greek. A complete Animal House ripoff if there ever was one, its execution is cheesy, melodramatic and massively superior.