Dean Burch (John Hillerman) is tired of his University being the laughing stock of the country. He wants Lepetomane University (or Labotomy U. as it’s jokingly referred to) to have at least one accomplishment to be proud of. In the entire history of the school not one student has won a trophy or received an award of any kind, but that’s about to change because the Dean has a brilliant strategy. His plan is to take the four worst students in the entire country, the four students who have no hope in ever graduating and bribing them with a degree in any subject they want. That is if they can win a white water raft race.
But it’s not easy winning a raft race if you’ve never been in a raft before. It’s even harder when the previous winner, Washington Military Academy, has been disqualified and is hell bent to make sure nobody wins the race, and nearly impossible since the rich kids of Ivy League have paid off the officials, sabotaged all of the rafts, and have all kinds of nasty tricks up their sleeves.
If you think the storyline sounds a little crazy, you would be right. In fact it’s a lot crazy filled with goofy lines, slapstick comedy, and total silliness. That is what makes it one of the best comedies to come out of the ’80s.
Bob McGraw (Tim Matheson) is the loveable leader of the group of misfits. He’s the leader, the slacker, and the ladies’ man all rolled into one. He manages to hold the team together as he coasts through life and manages to pick up the beautiful Heather Merriweather (Jennifer Runyon) without even trying.
Captain Braverman (Blaine Novak) of the military academy is more like Wile E. Coyote as he tries rolling giant boulders down on the rafters, using a jet engine to power his boat, and blowing up the river using dynamite.
And you can’t forget Chuck the Wonder Dog who is not only smarter than all of the humans in the movie, but is also great at charades.
In the interest of full disclosure I must admit that I am heavily biased in regards to this film. I’ve loved it from the first time I saw it when I was kid. And I’ve probably seen it a hundred times or more on a crappy VHS copy I made off of one of the movie channels, so I’m extremely happy to see it released on DVD as part of the MGM Limited Edition Collection.
Unfortunately, the DVD isn’t up to the quality I wish it was. It’s certainly an upgrade from what I have, but several times the sound gets a little too loud and distorts and there was one spot where the picture flickered. It also would have been nice to see some special features as well, but the only extra is the original trailer. The soundtrack is also really good and features one of the best Cheap Trick songs they ever made as the title track.
After all these years, the film is still funny and entertaining. It’s a little cheesier than I remember, but there are more than enough times that will make you laugh out loud to make up for it. And if that’s not enough for you, it’s great to see Stephen Furst and Tim Matheson from Animal House, Dan Monahan from Porky’s, and especially Jennifer Runyon, who everyone I knew had a crush on from the only good season of Charles in Charge.