Monday, 3 October 2011

Sorority Boys (2002)

A lowbrow teen comedy that focuses on some clumsy cross-dressing for the majority of it’s comedy may not sound like something very appealing but I happily recommend Sorority Boys as a great laugh and a perfect distant relative along the branches of the fraternity comedy family tree that grew from the seed planted by Animal House (a movie given many nods throughout) many years ago.

Three young men are very popular members of the KOK fraternity, where the parties are always lively and the women are always attractive. In fact, if any women from the much-derided DOG fraternity try to get in then it’s not long until the cry of “dogcatcher” is heard and a net is thrown over the unfortunate individual, who is then ejected from the party. It’s a great life. Women are treated with a complete lack of respect, beer is drunk in large amounts and the guys don’t have a care in the world. Until the money that they’re safeguarding, to be used in the funding of the all-important “cocktail cruise” where futures are often decided, goes missing. Or is stolen. Proving their innocence will be difficult, due to the fact that they are run out of the fraternity. In an effort to buy some time the guys don some womenswear and end up spending more time than they ever thought they would in DOG house. You can probably guess what kind of antics ensue and what lessons could be learned.

While there’s no denying that Sorority Boys is fairly formulaic and predictable stuff, there’s also no denying that it aims to provide simple, unpretentious, laughs. The first 10-20 minutes are downright offensive for any female viewers but it’s all necessary stuff so we can watch the guys go along a very steep learning curve and be dealt some humility.

The men in drag are all good sports and look comical as women. Barry Watson is the one who comes close to almost looking ladylike for all of two minutes as Dave/Daisy. Harland Williams is almost scary in a dress but also constantly hilarious as Doofer/Roberta. And Michael Rosenbaum, as Adam/Adina, sits uncomfortably in the middle while receiving the roughest treatment at the hands of men he used to consider friends. Melissa Sagemiller is the pretty head of the DOG house while Heather Matarazzo, Kathryn Stockwood and Yvonne Scio also join in the miserable company.

The script by Joe Jarvis and Greg Coolidge is very mean throughout but also very funny. When the guys are mean it’s all a set-up for the comedy derived later in the movie as the tables are turned. When people are mean to the guys (dressed as women) it’s both hilarious and deserved. The fact that the guys quickly seem to get in touch with their feminine side is another well-mined rich vein of humour (Rosenbaum obsessing over the size of his backside may be playing up to a stereotype but is also very funny while Barry Watson gets so comfortable so quickly that it’s no wonder he gets one or two funny looks from the others).

Wallace Wolodarsky directs things with great energy to compensate for the inherent implausibility of the material. Cross-cutting between characters for extra comic effect, exaggerating some ridiculous situations and topping off any semi-serious moments with a rude punchline – these are just some of the ways in which Wolodarsky makes the best of the enjoyable, lightweight material.

It’s quite possibly the best cross-dressing comedy since Mrs. Doubtfire. Without the schmaltz. 


  1. Interesting review here. I've heard the film is awful from most people so it's nice to see what the other side has to say. I doubt I'll be seeing it anytime, but I found your review refreshing and insightful.

  2. Thanks Alan. I'm sure that the movie is outright awful to many, especially if the kind of comedy onscreen doesn't appeal, but for the tone it aims for it gets things just right IMO. Or maybe I've just been worn down by watching too many Steven Seagal movies this year, haha.

  3. I agree with you. I don't usually like comedy movies, but this one I enjoyed!

    1. Hi Mikiko33, glad you also enjoyed this one. I ended up buying it, but I still can't convince my wife to watch it with me, haha.