Friday, June 15, 2012

Book Review: Fat, Drunk and Stupid by Matty Simmons

Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (April 10, 2012)

Fat, Drunk, and Stupid: The Inside Story Behind the Making of Animal House is written by Matty Simmons from a first hand perspective.  Simmons produced the movie and dedicates the book to Doug Kenney, John Belushi, and John Vernon.

The comedy is one of the most quoted and funniest movies of all time.  Simmons gives us an uncensored look at what went on behind the scenes.

Simmons reflects on how National Lampoon came into being and the experience in just trying to sale a screenplay to Hollywood.  When it did happen though, the script had to be rewritten again and again and again.

Try making a comedy on a budget of $3 million in this era of digital filmmaking and what you would be making is an indie.  To do so in 1977 over the course of four weeks in Oregon?  What Simmons and crew created was an iconic comedy that made them millionaires.  Except for Donald Sutherland as he was only paid a sum of $35,000 for a day and a half of work.  Sutherland turned down the points as he thought a film like this would not have made much.  He would have made $6 million when all was said and done.

What this book is, in earnest, is a romp through one of the most celebrated comedies of all times.

Without Animal House, there would be no Vacation, no Van Wilder, and really, no John Hughes era in Hollywood.  There would not be the raunchy comedy that we love so dearly today.  What they did with that movie was take a chance and risk a huge loss.  If the movie were released in this era and brought in the numbers that it did, the movie would make $500 million!

So thank you, Matty Simmons, for not only the film but a loving look back at the late 1970s.

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