National Lampoon's Animal House is a 1978 American comedy film directed by John Landis. The film was a direct spinoff from National Lampoon magazine. It is about a misfit group of fraternity members who challenge the dean of Faber College.
The screenplay was adapted by Douglas Kenney, Chris Miller, and Harold Ramis from stories written by Miller and published in National Lampoon magazine. The stories were based on Miller's experiences in the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity at Dartmouth College. Other influences on the film came from Ramis's experiences in the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at Washington University in St. Louis, and producer Ivan Reitman's experiences at Delta Upsilon at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Of the younger lead actors, only John Belushi was an established star, but even he had not yet appeared in a film, having gained fame mainly from his Saturday Night Live television appearances. Several of the actors who were cast as college students, including Karen Allen, Tom Hulce, and Kevin Bacon, were just beginning their film careers, although Tim Matheson was coming off a large role as one of the assassin motorcycle cops in the second Dirty Harry film, Magnum Force.
Upon its initial release, Animal House received generally mixed reviews from critics, but Time and Roger Ebert proclaimed it one of the year's best. Filmed for $2.8 million, it is one of the most profitable movies of all time, garnering an estimated gross of more than $141 million in the form of theatrical rentals and home video, not including merchandising.
The film, along with 1977's The Kentucky Fried Movie, also directed by Landis, was largely responsible for defining and launching the gross-out genre of films, which became one of Hollywood's staples. It is also now considered one of the greatest comedy films ever made by many fans and critics. In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed Animal House "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. It was No. 1 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies". It was No. 36 on AFI's "100 Years... 100 Laughs" list of the 100 best American comedies. In 2008, Empire magazine selected it as one of "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time".
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