In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

Thumb hail satan poster

Hail Satan?

Buried somewhere in this smart but somewhat disorganized and repetitious movie about The Satanic Temple is a trickier, potentially deeper and more all-encompassing work.

Thumb someone poster

Someone Great

A fluffy romp with a sobering truth: relationships and your twenties may end, but neither signals the end of the world

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives


National Lampoon's Class Reunion


"National Lampoon's Class Reunion" has its funny moments, but they're rare enough that we're acutely aware of them. Laughter interrupts the audience from time to time, and then we sink back into our reveries. A movie like this is either a non-stop slapstick series of laughs, or it doesn't work at all. "Class Reunion" just doesn't work. It reminded me at times of "1941," another movie jammed with weird characters, funny names, bizarre situations, cute one-liners and talented performers, but nothing that came together to make a comedy.


The movie finds its inspiration in two related genres, the Dead Teenager Movie and the Teenage Sex Comedy. It's a cross between "Prom Night" and "Porky's." The action takes place during the 10th-year reunion of Lizzie Borden High School's Class of '72, which returns to the old Alma Mater for a party that includes music by Chuck Berry, a buffet by the scuzzy school cook, and lots of crepe paper. The festivities are interrupted when one of the alums, a member of the Hare Krishna sect, is killed and swung across the stage upside down.

Other violence follows, and a suspect is quickly agreed on: The murders have gotta be by Walter Baylor, the class geek, who was the victim of a particularly cruel practical joke on graduation day. (Fans of Dead Teenager Movies will be reminded here not only of "Prom Night" but also of "Terror Train" and "Graduation Day.") Then the alums discover they're locked inside the school.

The class members are a motley crew. There's Bunny Packard (Miriam Flynn), still trying to organize everybody into fun activities; Bob Spinnaker (Gerrit Graham), four times class president, still trying to look good; Gary Nash (Fred McCarren), the Class Wimp everybody has already forgotten; Hubert Downs (Stephen Furst), the class animal, in the Belushi role; and Egon Von Stoker (Jim Staahl), a weird guy whose hairline and facial features seem to move around at random. There are also, let's see, the class witch, who breathes fire; the blind girl; the transvestite; the two potheads, and a mysterious shrink who charges in from the Institute for the Criminally Insane, the same facility that gave us the killer in "Halloween."

The movie's basic problem seems to be misplaced faith in the comic possibilities of funny characters and weird situations. Why does Hollywood persist in thinking that a funny name is funny by itself? My reaction, when I see a lineup of stock comic characters, is generally boredom: Humor grows out of characters; it doesn't attach itself to them. In "National Lampoon's Animal House," for example, Stephen Furst was genuinely funny as the slob that no fraternity wanted to pledge. Here, he plays his slobhood so broadly it's predictable, not funny.


One of the more depressing things about "Class Reunion" is that the movie itself is sort of a reunion for several veterans of Second City. The director, Michael Miller, is a former director of the legendary cabaret on Wells, and the Second Citians in the cast include Gerrit Graham, Miriam Flynn and Jim Staahl. One of the trademarks of Second City has always been the way the group develops humor out of characters and situations; one-liners and slapstick are generally avoided. Here, everybody goes so berserk trying to be funny that nobody takes the time to develop a character that might succeed in being funny. The movie's a real disappointment.

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Bright Wall/Dark Room April 2019: Religious Cinema for Non-Believers: Scorsese's Silence

An essay about Martin Scorsese's Silence, as excerpted from the latest edition of Bright Wall/Dark Room.

Star Wars, Episode IX Announces Title, Releases Trailer

A report from the Star Wars Celebration on the announcement of the title of Episode IX and reveal of the trailer.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus