Sitcom DVDs tend to wear you down with bad one-liners and obnoxious laugh tracks.
College life jumps off the screen in this classic indie cheapie, made for $250,000 in 1996 by five recent Colgate grads. Breaking into the cafeteria's kitchen to scarf down ice cream in the middle of the night, fighting with your girlfriend when you're still wearing an afro wig from a '60s party, dialing dozens of numbers to track down the woman who gave you her number but "accidentally" left out one digit, casually calling your friend "garbage dick" to the woman he's trying to pick up-it's all here with home-movie vividness.
The story centers on Felix Bean, a Matthew Perry-ish clean-cut preppy who's competing with a rugby player for the affections of Suzanne, an Andie MacDowell-esque classmate who's also the student lawyer defending those friends who got busted in the night kitchen. Stronger on atmosphere than story, the film amiably lays out a series of likable characters-most memorably Freaky Reaky, the hippie stoner who works in the campus post office and talks to people about their mail when they open their mailboxes-and wacky episodes, centered on Felix and Suzanne's bland romance, which climaxes in a rugby game at which Felix fights for his manhood and girlfriend.
The Broken Lizard comedy troupe, who wrote the movie and play the five main characters, went on to make cult favorite Super Troopers, and director Jay Chandrasekhar recently hit the mainstream with the infamous Jessica Simpson/Johnny Knoxville Dukes of Hazzard movie (also out on DVD this week). Puddle Cruiser lies somewhere between Animal House-a picture of college life from a white male frat's-eye view-and the recent Funny Ha Ha, which matched the drifting mood of an indie movie to the drifting mood of college and postcollege life. When you listen to the Broken Lizards' two commentary tracks-and see them in the accompanying documentary-you realize the movie is like an after-the-fact documentary of their college years, which is both its strength and its limitation. B-
Includes: Two commentary tracks, featurettes.
You'll Like It If You Like: College movies, Animal House, Super Troopers.
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