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  • Writer's pictureDino Teoli

Flashback Review: Back to School (1986)

Anyone who grew up in the 1980’s has most likely seen this cult movie “Back to School” starring Rodney Dangerfield, Keith Gordon, and a young Robert Downey Jr. From what I have read from the critics of the time, they did not have much faith in this movie becoming a success. However, they were completely wrong. In a way it seems fitting that the critics gave Rodney Dangerfield “No Respect”. The movie grossed $92 million dollars domestically, not too bad for 1986!!!!

The movie is about Thornton Melon (Dangerfield), a self made millionaire who became wealthy in the clothing industry and owns a chain of Tall and Fat Shops. His father was a penniless Italian immigrant who made him work at a very young age in the family business and never had the opportunity to get an education. Despite being wealthy, he never improved his manners and remained the same beer guzzling, fun loving guy. He got married and divorced a social-climbing gold digger. All he cares about is his son Jason (Keith Gordon) who is a college student.

When Thornton learns that his son is about to quit school because he is having a horrible time, and that everything he thought his son was (part of the diving team, popular) is actually quite the opposite, he decides to enroll in school along side him to teach him the ropes. The rest of the movie is his adventures on campus with his son. While his son tries to succeed by studying and going to the library, Thornton buys his way through and throws the best parties on campus. This goes on until Jason rebels and Thornton is threatened to be expelled. He ends up graduating by passing an oral examination. Not only that they both end up graduating, Thornton is asked to speak at the graduation, and of course does it in his flamboyant way. See what I mean below:

This was one of my favorite movies at the time, and it has aged quite well. If you are a fan of Rodney Dangerfield, you will definitely like this movie. I was a fan of his stand-up routine: one of the last comedians to use the one liners. My favorite one liner is “No Respect”, which is quite ironic that in this movie he has all the respect in the world.

At the time one of the major critics of the movie was the language used and the adolescent humor. All I have to say is that the language is quite tame if you compare it to the language used in 2016. As for the humor, this movie just wanted to entertain and it definitely hit its mark, $96 million dollars worth. The movie also got criticized for encouraging binge drinking and mentioning a homophobic rape joke. They could have made this movie without using these jokes, however when you take into consideration that this movie was made in 1986, this type of humour was accepted. Today, these jokes would never have been used, because they would not be politically correct.

Bottom Line

This is a fun, feel good, entertaining movie. It has aged quite well. The jokes still work very well today. It is a great movie to escape for 90 minutes and have a few laughs. Rodney Dangerfield seem to come into his own in this movie. Some people say this is the movie that established him It is one of the better movies that adapted a stand-up routine to the silver screen. Even today’s teenagers would find it funny because it uses international humor: no matter in what continent, what country you are in, a gust of wind or “fart” sound is still funny to majority of people.

I give this movie 7 on 10.

Were you a fan of the movie? We want to hear from you !!!!

Thank you for taking the time for stopping by. Until next time enjoy "Back to School"!!!!

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