Frat House: Todd Phillips' Documentary Version of Animal House

Sara V. Buckwitz
September 15, 2000


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Frat House: Todd Phillips' Documentary Version of Animal House

Filmed for and banned by HBO, the documentary Frat House chronicles the initiation of pledges from rush week to hell week from a composite of fraternities. The article talks about filmmaker Todd Phillips' ('Road Trip' and 'Bittersweet Motel') experience and why it never aired on HBO. The film cuts 'a wide swath through the realm of bad behavior taken so disturbingly seriously that it would probably have given pause even to John Belushi himself.'

Anne S. Lewis of the alternative newsweekly, Austin Chronicle interviews Phillips about how he came to almost understand and appreciate why the brothers haze. Partly, he attributes it to pledging during the filmmaking.

'I came out thinking it's kind of funny. Obviously, it's horrible when they take it too far and people die -- but you kind of get it when you're there and see that what these kids have is a problem with standing out. I grew up wanting to stand out, to be an individual. So for me, the revelation in the film was the lengths people will go to be part of an identifiable group and not stand out. The hazing is just an initiation rite that goes along with that -- they just do it to keep themselves entertained.'

With the same soundtrack as 'A Clockwork Orange' the documentary did not shy away from the more unsavory aspects of pledging. -- Sara V. Buckwitz

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