Freshman Orientation (DVD Review)10 Aug, 2008 By: David Greenberg
Box Office $0.01 million
Rated ‘R' for strong sexual content, language and some drug use.
Stars Sam Huntington, Kaitlin Doubleday, John Goodman, Marla Sokoloff, Heather Matarazzo, Rachel Dratch, Jud Tyler.
Writer-director Ryan Shiraki wants it all: to be funny and intelligent, crude and sensitive, raucous and observant. To achieve such cinematic ambitions would be a tall order for almost any director, let alone a rookie with a small budget, but Shiraki somehow dodges the odds and defies logic. Patient, open-minded audiences will find themselves surprisingly rewarded, maybe even enlightened, at the end of this wildly exaggerated, overblown and consistently entertaining film.
On the surface, the film appears to be like many in the college-campus genre. A horny, small-town freshman, Clay (Huntington), gets to school and wants to “get down.” It is here where the film quickly veers away from the Animal House neighborhood and straight into I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry territory — though this film pre-dates the Adam Sandler comedy by two years. Yes, Clay has to pretend to be gay in order to win the heart of beautiful sorority pledge Amanda (Doubleday), who has to pretend to seduce, then reject, a gay man as part of a savage initiation ritual.
While there is barely a trace of subtlety or nuance throughout the heavy-handed film, it somehow manages to raise provocative questions about how we identify ourselves. Huntington and Doubleday get able support from Dratch as a perennially drunk lifetime student and Matarazzo hamming it up with her performance as a Long Island Jew who makes Barbra Streisand look like Martha Stewart. But it is almost worth the price of the rental to see Goodman as the swishy owner of a gay bar.
It's hard to know what audience will gravitate to the film, the gay crowd or the college-comedy crowd. Maybe, in a perfect world, everyone would find something to relate to in this story. That, ultimately, is the point of the film.