If you want a perfect example of the quality of humor to be found in the newest example of what has become the worst cinematic genre operating today–the gross-out college comedy–just consider this. The plot, to use the term loosely, centers on three fraternity brothers who, for reasons we won’t go into here, dress in drag and take up residence at the uncool campus sorority house, where–wouldn’t you know it?–they learn the error of their loutish ways and acquire the sensitivity that marks a real man. Their fraternity is called Kappa Omicron Kappa, and so its members are known as the KOKs. Get it? The sorority of ugly chicks they find themselves trapped in, on the other hand, is Delta Omicron Gamma, and so the sisters there are the DOGs. Are you rolling in the aisles yet?
Unhappily, the level of crudity exhibited in this nomenclature is all too representative of the flick as a whole. “Sorority Boys” may be a puerile ripoff of “Some Like It Hot,” but while you share the admiration co-writers Joe Jarvis and Greg Coolidge must have for that classic, it quickly becomes apparent that they have absolutely nothing in common with Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond. The 1959 picture was wonderfully sharp and clever; this one is unrelievedly dull and stupid. It wants to be a homage but is merely a bastardization. The least offensive bits are the predictable ones showing the guys fumbling about in girlish garb. But to go along with these there are plenty of penis and breast jokes, drug episodes and alcohol binges, as well as an endless supply of double and triple entendres. As if that weren’t enough, we also have to suffer through some repulsive would-be satire of feminism and Women’s Studies classes, and a few swipes at lesbians. But an extended sequence involving what amounts to date rape is surely the nadir; and it’s supposed to be the equivalent of Joe E. Brown’s “Nobody’s perfect” line!
All this is too bad, because under better circumstances some of the performers might actually make a decent impression. Barry Watson, from “7th Heaven,” seems a fairly personable fellow; but after the disaster of “Teaching Mrs. Tingle” and now this bit of wretched excess, he should really search for a new agent. And Michael Rosenbaum, here allowed to show the coifs he’s denuded of playing Lex Luthor in “Smallville,” actually exhibits some evidence of comic timing. The third member of the featured trio, unfortunately, is Harland Williams, the supremely unfunny star of such previous monstrosities as “Rocket Man” and “Superstar.” (He was also seen in “Freddy Got Fingered,” which really tells you something.) Not only does this fellow look to be about forty–long in the tooth even for a “student” who’s supposed to have been around for nine years–but his incessant mugging is the thespian equivalent of fingernails scraping a blackboard for ninety minutes. Among the women, Melissa Sagemiller can’t entirely conceal her good looks as Leah, the girl whom Watson’s Dave falls for (their relationship is supposed to mimic that of Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis in Wilder’s film, but needless to say it falls a few light years short). And you have to feel acutely embarrassed for Heather Matarazzo, from “Welcome to the Dollhouse,” who has to screech like a harpy as a homely lass with a voice that shatters glass. Technically the picture actually has some polish, and director Wally Wolodarsky (“Coldblooded”) evinces some talent for staging action competently; but these elements drown in the morass of muck they have to support.
One of the few good points about “Sorority Boys” is that it doesn’t disgrace any particular college by claiming to be set there, but it should be noted that the scripters are alumni of the University of Oklahoma–weep, you Sooners! About the best thing you can say about their freshman effort is that it doesn’t manage to be quite as awful as “Slackers.” But it still flunks.