Back in the eighties director “Savage” Steve Holland was responsible for three pretty damn fantastic comedies, Better Off Dead, One Crazy Summer and this. And though he only wrote the first two and was a director for hire on this, it has his distinct sense of humour as it’s a very sweet natured affair with an occasional flight of fancy or surreal joke of the kind that will almost always catch you off guard.
Holland famously fell out with John Cusack during the making of One Crazy Summer after the actor saw their first film and claimed that Holland had tricked him in to making a very different movie to the one he thought he was starring in, which just goes to show what a twat Cusack could be as the much loved cult movie is highly acclaimed and far, far better than the utter shit that Cusack mostly makes these days. It’s a shame though as the lead character in How I Got Into College is very similar to the other two, and could have made for a very fun trilogy featuring the actor.
Instead we got the more than fine Corey Parker as underachieving student Marlon, who wants to get in to Ramsey University because the love of his life Jessica (Lara Flynn Boyle) plans to go there, even if the two of them have rarely spoken. Jessica panics during the interview however and thinks she’s doomed to a life of misery at the local college, and Marlon doesn’t have the grades to get in, but thanks to befriending one of the staff there (Anthony Edwards) they might just manage to do so anyhow.
This is an extremely rare example of an eighties comedy that isn’t homophobic, sexist or racist, indeed on the latter front it addresses the way college’s attempt to fill quotas when it comes to minorities. All too often even with films that I love there’s moments that make me wince (like Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey and the use of the word faggot) but thankfully there’s nothing upsetting here at all which makes it all the more endearing.
As well as the three leads it has a strong supporting cast that includes Phil Hartman, Diane Franklin, Tom Kenny and Richard Jenkins, and it’s a tight comedy that doesn’t feature any flab. The joke rate is high and the majority of them hit home, and the occasional fantasy scenes where Marlon imagines exam questions as if they were occurring in real life are a real highlight. Many consider this Holland’s worst eighties film but for my money it’s better than One Crazy Summer and almost up there with Better Off Dead, and it’s perfect if you’re in the mood for an undemanding but very funny comedy.