Going Greek (2001) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Going Greek (2001) is a first film from Justin Zackham made for $190K. After two years of trying to get distribution, he got a straight to vid deal. In a feature length commentary, he says that some people will find it hilarious, and others won't find it funny. I suspect it is a generational thing, but put me in the group that didn't find this gross-out humor funny. That is not to put down the film. It has an audience, and they will love it. The DVD features two commentary tracks, one by Zackham, and the other by cast members. If you find the film funny, you will also love the cast members track, and the deleted scenes. For me, the director's commentary was the most interesting thing about the DVD, because he talked about exactly what it took to get a low budget film made in a very candid manner. The toughest part is whatever the next step is. In other words, the entire process is a struggle. His advice is to get DV equipment and editing equipment, and make a very simple film on your own money, learn something in the process, then sell an idea to investors and go for a real film.

He learned as he went, and it wasn't easy for him. After the principal photography was done, he realized he didn't have enough coverage to edit with, and had to get enough money for four more days of shooting. He advises to save some of your budget for re-shooting. He also points out that you will almost never sell a film shot on DV, so go 35mm with any film you hope to sell. First, create a script, then write a business plan. Investors, according to him, don't really invest in a low budget Indie hoping to make a profit. They just like being around movies. You do have to convince them a profit is possible, however.

This is the story about a former High School All American (Dylan Bruno) who lost his athletic scholarship to Notre Dame because of an injury.  He is now joining his cousin under a restricted academic scholarship at a small university. The cousin is a mousey type whose greatest ambition is to join the hottest frat on campus. The frat wants Bruno because of a bet they made on an intramural football game, and two unscrupulous brothers convince the jock that his cousin can't get in unless he also agrees to join. Unfortunately, the girl that interests him (Laura Harris) hates frats, partly because her ex is in the very frat that the cousins wish to join.

Guess which frat member is assigned to haze Bruno.

Possibly the most outrageous joke is a circle jerk where all the pledges shoot on a big cookie. The last one has to eat the cookie. If you find that funny, you will love this film.

Scoop's notes in yellow:

I don't have much more to say about the movie. Tuna nailed it. The difference between this and a good campus comedy is that the latter uses gross-outs as a source of humor. This film uses them as a substitute for humor. (One note: As long as there was a solid academic performance, Notre Dame would not take away a kid's scholarship because he hurt his leg. At least I hope not. It is a school which stands for, or is supposed to stand for, values and academics first, despite its brilliant history of football performance.)

I want to talk about two other subjects related to this movie:

1. The IMDB comments.

There are 11 comments at IMDB, all quite positive. Some of them were outlandishly positive. "The heir to Animal House", "Blows Old School out of the water", "Witty teen genre movie, on par with American Pie and Van Wilder". Yes, opinions are subjective, but it isn't likely that so many people would feel so strongly positive about such an uninspired, derivative movie. I got suspicious.

My suspicions were confirmed. There are eleven comments about this movie. Eight of them were made by virgin accounts, people who had never commented on any other movie. Obviously, the accounts were created specifically for the purpose of adding positive comments to the page for this particular film, probably by a single person or close-knit group. The other three people? None of them are frequent IMDb contributors. They have written comments on a total of 2, 3, and 5 movies respectively, with all of those totals including this movie.

The arithmetic score distribution looks suspicious as well. Although 87 votes have been cast as I write this, there have been no 3s, 4s, or 5s awarded to this film at all - just low scores and high ones. IMDB's score filter did a good enough job at figuring out the ballot-stuffing. Although the raw score results in a mean of 7.5, the adjusted score is 4.6, right about where it should be.


Lauren Petty shows a breast in a hallway necking scene, and Rainbeau Mars shows a breast at a frat party. Two unknowns also show breasts, the first knocking on a dorm door with her boyfriend and asking to buy a rubber, the second a girlfriend of a pledge who shows her breasts on his interview tape. This second unknown could be the poster child for bad boob jobs.

2. Claire Forlani

Sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of two similar women

Claire Forlani and Kate Beckinsale.

Two English actresses who can and often do play Americans without any difficulty. Two soft-spoken, willowy actresses of ethereal beauty. Two women who often play characters younger than their physical age. Forlani is 31, and was 29 when she played a college girl in this film. Beckinsale is 30, and was 29 when she played a grad student in Laurel Canyon.

Beckinsale is now one of the hottest properties in Hollywood, a flavor of the day. And Forlani? She isn't doing as well at the moment.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Two bonus commentary tracks:

    • 1) "Low Budget Filmmaking 101" with director Justin Zackham

    • 2) Actors commentary with Dylan Bruno, Corey Pearson and Scott Viscomi

  • "Making Greek" a 20 min behind the scenes documentary on the making of the film

  • "Deleted Scenes and Bloopers" a 20 minute montage

  • "What Went Wrong?!" outtakes from the actors' commentary recording session

  • "The Fastest Man in the World" a short film made by the cast while on the set

1. Going Greek was made for a total budget of $198,000, including salaries and everything else.

2. Forlani's role merited 20th billing. Obviously, she must have worked for scale., or close to it.

3. Worst of all, her lines can be found only in the deleted scenes. Actually, she may appear somewhere on camera in the final cut of the film, but I didn't notice her at all until I watched the deleted footage.

There's her career. She gets a very minor role in a very minor film, and her very few lines get cut.

Forlani, Beckinsale. I am having a difficult time in determining why these two very comparable actresses have such divergent career paths.

The Critics Vote

  • no major reviews online.

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Scoop says, "This is barely a C-. It uses gross-out jokes as a substitute for humor, rather than as a source of humor." Tuna says, "While I didn't find the film funny, many might, and the commentary was worth the price. This is a C. If you like gross-out humor, this is your film."

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