Cultural infamy: With College, fetus-like wannabe movie star Kevin Covais attempted to become this generation’s DJ Qualls, which is interesting considering that the previous generation’s DJ Qualls (who happens to be the actual DJ Qualls) is still perfectly suited for the “goofy-ass geek gets laid” roles not already taken by that McLovin guy. Did Kevin Covais succeed in his modest quest? Perhaps another question is in order: Who the fuck is Kevin Covais?
As followers of American Idol will tell you—The A.V. Club is nothing if not a gathering place for loyal Idol fans—Covais was a season-five finalist who appealed to the churchy teens and romantically unfulfilled cat ladies who rocketed AI alumni like Clay Aiken and David Archuleta straight to the middle of the music industry. Unfortunately for Covais, those people only go to movies starring Kirk Cameron. They sure as shit don’t go to movies that portray university life as a sex-drenched Sodom and Gomorrah—part Caligula, part Cocksucker Blues (specifically that one scene where The Rolling Stones fake an orgy on an airplane), and part Super Bowl week with the 1995 Dallas Cowboys.
People often complain that for movies today, marketing trumps artistry, but the folks behind College showed an almost charming lack of sales savvy for their boobs-and-beer extravaganza by choosing a star whose fan base squarely backs the efforts of those crusty college deans who want to halt the hijinks committed by big fat party guys. You could even call College subversive, if it’s possible for something to be subversive because it’s been incompetently conceived. At any rate, I sort of feel like College was made just for me—I watched the fifth season of American Idol, I was amused by Covais’ prenatal nerdiness, and, yes, I definitely think it would be funny to see him get a hand job in a low-rent slob comedy. (Have I mentioned that Covais looks like exactly like an unborn fetus? Well, he does.)
I think I’m the only gainfully employed member of the media who thought College looked at all enticing. The movie received a comically low Metacritic score of 15, which, as the site helpfully points out, translates to “extreme dislike or disgust” among critics. (For comparison’s sake, The Love Guru scored a relatively robust 24, and that’s with every single person on the face of the planet hating Mike Myers’ guts.) It’s tough to pick only a few choice quotes from so many hilariously angry reviews, though for simplicity’s sake, I’m partial to “an ugly, unfunny frat comedy” (TV Guide) that “leaves its stain on one’s very humanity” (L.A. Weekly). The A.V. Club’s own Nathan Rabin, a foremost connoisseur of crap who once wrote a lengthy defense of Freddy Got Fingered, a Tom Green comedy so abhorrent that it stands accused of statutory rape in 15 states, called College “god-awful” in his D- review, going as far to say that it “threatens to give gratuitous nudity, profanity, and rank stupidity a bad name.” Impossible, I say!
Curiosity factor: I’ve already covered my interest in Covais. I also have a weakness for teen party movies, especially now that I’m no longer a teenager who’s insecure about how little partying he’s done. As a married guy with a mortgage and a small child (okay, she’s a dog, but I still need to find a sitter when I go on vacation), there’s something pretty damn relaxing about watching a teen party movie, where there’s no problem—be it a wrecked car, a lost scholarship, or public sexual humiliation—that can’t be dismissed with the help of a good brew, a well-endowed babe, and a casual, “Who gives a fuck?” ’tude. Watching a teen party movie is like listening to a Jimmy Buffett album, only with shitty pop-punk songs subbing for shitty steel drums. To quote College, the only things these moviespromise are “no parents, no curfew, and free fucking beer.” Sounds good to me, bro.
The viewing experience: I don’t know if my expectations going in were way too low, or if I'm just a way bigger dumb-ass than I think I am, but I sort of enjoyed College. I wouldn’t go as far to say that it’s good, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t laugh even once, but for a throwaway piece of garbage that’s destined for late-night rotation on Comedy Central, I thought it was passably entertaining. I’d just as soon watch College at 2 a.m. as Without A Paddle or National Lampoon’s Barely Legal.
If College was a hundred times more artful than it is, I would call it an homage to pretty much every important teen party movie of the last 30 years, from Animal House to American Pie to Old School. But it’s really just a retread of Superbad, a superior film and—this is arguably more important—an inferior breast-delivery device. I’m talking about the “unrated” version of College—I could have chosen to watch the theatrical version that my critical brethren tore to pieces, but no one in the history of DVDs has ever picked “theatrical” over “unrated” when given the choice of versions in the menu. (I’m pretty sure that if you were to choose “theatrical,” all you would see is a sleeping donkey with a fly circling its ass.) How much nudity is in College? Let me put it this way: Most of the nation’s mothers have likely heard of Superbad; they will never know about College unless they go searching under their sons’ beds.
The movie begins with three high-school seniors—played by Covais, Drake Bell, and Andrew Caldwell—who visit Fieldmont University for the weekend after Bell’s girlfriend dumps him for not partying enough. (I wishI could relate, amigo.) Covais, of course, is McLovin, while Bell gets stuck with the uptight Michael Cera role. That leaves plenty of fat-guy scene-stealing action for Caldwell, who succeeds at being just as loathsome as papa bear Jonah Hill. (I’m speaking as someone who finds obnoxious people to be loathsome. If you find them funny, please replace “loathsome” with “side-splitting.”) It’s Caldwell’s idea for the buds to tag along with Covais on his weekend college trip, so they can hit some of that higher-education shit and help Bell get back at his bitchy blonde ex. Did someone say “boobies”? Here’s a NSFW clip of the boys’ first college party.
Man, you know what this clip reminds me of? This totally wild and crazy night I had once back in college where I ate a whole bag of Cheetos while watching 90210 re-runs. I’m never telling the wife about that one! Okay, so my college years weren’t anything like College, and neither were yours, unless your name is Otter and you’re currently working as a gynecologist in Beverly Hills. But I’ll defend College with the same argument people use to defend equally shallow entertainment like Sex And The City and Entourage—it’s essentially escapist lifestyle porn for a very specific demographic. Some people fantasize about Jimmy Choo shoes and sex with Chris Noth. Some of us desperately want to hang out with assholes. For the College audience, wish-fulfillment involves body shots and wet T-shirts. If we can’t condemn big-city single women or post-collegiate twentysomething men for the shows they like, perhaps we should take it easy on the College crowd as well. At least with College, the worst that can happen is that young men get tricked into getting a degree. The best that awaits Sex And The City and Entourage fans is crabs and emotional bankruptcy.
Not that College is all hedonistic montages. There are also some serious buzzkills, broseph. When the guys decide not to stay in the lame dorms like they’re supposed to, they end up at a frat house where Caldwell’s cousin once pledged. Unbeknownst to the boys, however, the fraternity has once again been denied a charter by the all-powerful dean, who is stuffy and old and probably never played bass with The Pretenders. Normally, being denied a charter by the dean translates to the fraternity being a bastion of nonconformist awesomeness, a place where mute madmen ride Harleys down hallways and shit like that. But these frat boys are dickheads to the max. They subject our li’l hornballs to all kinds of sadistic hazing, sending them to a sweet party that turns out to be totally filled with gay dudes, or forcing them to drink shots out of a brother’s über-hairy ass-crack. But the heroes overcome these setbacks, and go on to enjoy easy sexual encounters with college hotties with practically no effort. Hey, remember when I said something about Covais getting a hand job? Enjoy! (Obviously NSFW.)
I could have stopped the movie right there and been satisfied, but there was still an hour of binge drinking and random fucking to go. The frat boys, infuriated by the improbable macking abilities of these “pre-froshes,” blackmail them into further humiliation, threatening to tell their new girlfriends that they aren’t really college students. Also, Covais meets up with the dean, who is none-too-pleased that he’s staying with a fraternity, and isn’t sure he deserves a scholarship after all. Then the frat guys steal Covais’ credit card to pay for a bitchin’ party with Verne Troyer (who, coincidentally, was paid for his role in College with a stolen credit card). In this scene, the boys are finally exposed as collegiate frauds:
Quick college frat story: Back when I worked for my college newspaper, somebody would inevitably decide to make fun of fraternities in an op-ed piece that ran during Rush Week, and the fraternities would inevitably get pissed off and demand a meeting with the editor so they could inevitably complain about how we never wrote stories about all the charity work they did in the community. I wonder if something similar happens with teen party movies, like if there’s a national anti-defamation league for frats that bitches to Hollywood studios every time they make a movie like College that doesn’t show frat boys schlepping bowls of stew down at the soup kitchen. Maybe there is, but I doubt it. Movies like College,on balance, help frats more than they hurt them. If given the choice, most 18-year-old boys will pick “Be an asshole” over “Wipe old people’s butts” as a reason for joining a frat.
Anyway, when things appear darkest for our beloved heroes, you know it’s only a setup for the dawn of a climactic comeuppance. Assuming most of the people who rent College will have satisfied their masturbatory needs long before the movie ends, the film focuses on the boys’ elaborate, disgusting Rube Goldberg revenge scheme. Here’s a clip of it being successfully executed:
How much of this experience was a total waste of time? I suppose you could say the whole experience was a waste of time, since watching College didn’t make me a better person—I suspect I’m a far worse person, actually—and I forgot about it almost immediately after I watched it. (So all the shit I just wrote about could be a figment of my imagination.) But I gotta say that, while it lasted, College was a pretty good time. And, truth be told, I can’t remember most of my real-life college experience, either. Anybody know if Cheetos cause memory loss?