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Fat, Drunk, & Stupid: The Inside Story Behind the Making of Animal House Hardcover – April 10, 2012

3.4 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In the mid-1970s, Simmons was riding high as publisher of the wildly popular humor magazine National Lampoon. The publication’s success spawned an entire industry, including live theatrical shows, radio programs, books, and comedy albums. But its most successful spin-off was just on the horizon, the classic 1978 film National Lampoon’s Animal House. Simmons and most of the movie’s top-shelf talent, including fellow producer Ivan Reitman, director John Landis, and a then-unknown Kevin Bacon, take a fond look back at the raucous making of their underdog production, which became an unexpected blockbuster, turned the late John Belushi into a superstar, and, according to the book, changed the course of mainstream American comedy forever. Animal House is the granddaddy of the gross-out genre that includes American Pie, but Simmons argues it was the daringly subversive political commentary and gut-busting jokes that set it far above all followers. Previous books have covered similar ground, and Simmons’ writing style is more fizz than pop, but loyal fans of Animal House will find much to like in this engaging read. --Chris Keech

Review

“[A] one-of-a-kind book… A unique look at the one movie that, more than any other, told Americans it's okay to access your inner frat boy. In fact, it's recommended.” ―Washington Post

“Loyal fans of ‘Animal House' will find much to like in this engaging read.” ―Booklist

“A fond look back on the ‘little movie' that turned into a blockbuster, made John Belushi a star, and spawned dozens of badly made imitations… Simmons had a front-row seat at the film's creation, and he provides a detailed look at how the movie was made, as well as its unanticipated success.” ―Publishers Weekly

“Simmons brings a singular perspective to this behind-the-scenes look… Simmons's tone is breezy, and he offers amusing anecdotes about cast members.” ―Library Journal

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (April 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312552262
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312552268
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #569,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After seeing endless releases of one of my all time favorite films, National Lampoon's Animal House on DVD packed with fairly repetitive behind-the-scenes stories, I was eagerly anticipating a definitive book be written on the subject. Luckily, my prayers were answered in late Winter when I discovered that Lampoon creator, "The" Matty Simmons was going to have such a work published in Spring, 2012.

Reading this book revealed so much more for me than what had already been said in the featurette documentaries featured on the Universal DVD releases of Animal House. In this book, we learn about reactions to the film upon its release in Summer, 1978. We get to learn about the casting process and the experiences the actors and actresses had upon reading for their respective roles. Plus we learn about how long it took to whittle down the original screenplay to create the definitive work of comedy we've come to love for almost 35 years.

This book touches upon many aspects of the film from inception to legacy as well as help readers learn about the beginnings of National Lampoon Magazine, the production of National Lampoon's Lemmings, and a real treat for fans, some stories about an unproduced sequel to Animal House that never made it further than the story idea stage!

There are some things that true die hard fans like myself do unfortunately have to miss such as deleted scene explanations. Many of the scenes that I would have liked to read more about were scenes that involved director John Landis making a cameo as a student dishwasher and having a tug of war over a leftover cheeseburger during the 'What A Wonderful World' sequence in the cafeteria.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The title might lead you to believe this is a book about antics on the set and other insider stories about what the filming of this epochal movie was like. Actually the book is the story of the movie from first conception forward. The book begins with accounts of Hollywood meetings and machinations involving the author, a founder of National Lampoon. It is only about halfway thru the book that any accounts of the filming actually begin. And the tail-end of the book are "told-you-so" moments as the author delights in recounting how previews and the roll-out proved the naysayers wrong.

I was hoping to read a book focused on the filming of the movie. This is not that book.
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Format: Hardcover
Actually, the subtitle to this book should be "An Inside Story," not "THE Inside Story." Matty Simmons was definitely inside the comedy phenom that was NATIONAL LAMPOON'S ANIMAL HOUSE, but the book reads a little choppy and it ultimately becomes one person's experience with the film.

I'm not saying that like it's a bad thing, and I'm glad Mr. Simmons has committed to paper his memories of the people, the shoot and the legacy of one of the most popular comedies of all time. He's able to give insight into the National Lampoon years that led to the film and he gives many interesting personal anecdotes about the people involved (from top to bottom), but the book also has a rushed feel to it, along with little errors like mispelling Dan Aykroyd's name over and over.

If you're a huge ANIMAL HOUSE fan (and I consider myself one), you will have probably already read Chris Miller's THE REAL ANIMAL HOUSE about his Dartmouth frat that inspired the Deltas, A STUPID AND FUTILE GESTURE about the late Doug Kenney (the "Stork" who was actually one of the brains behind the Lampoon and ANIMAL HOUSE--and CADDYSHACK!), and other books about John Belushi covering those years. Simmons's book is a nice complement to those volumes, and well worth reading.

I recently went to a screening of ANIMAL HOUSE (April 2012) with an introduction and Q&A with Stephen Furst, aka Kent Dorfman, aka Flounder. He was open, honest and very gracious. And he still sounds exactly like Flounder. But the reason I bring this up: the audience still laughed. A lot. Hard. Almost 35 years later, a crowded movie theatre was filled with laughter for this film.

That's staying power.
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Format: Paperback
If the goal of Matty Simmon’s latest missive is to make you want to watch NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE again, he succeeds. If he wants to go behind the scenes on the creation, casting, execution and reception of said film, well, he succeeds there as well. If the goal is to place the film into the top-tier pantheon of screen comedies, yep, he succeeds there as well. Most importantly, Simmons’ argues that the film is a dividing line in the history of screen comedies. There is some merit to that as well. With all these successes, why only a handful of stars? Well, the book’s contents would be more appropriate for one of those VANITY FAIR movie coverages that they do so well (and have published in book form). You know a 200 page“making-of” book is struggling when the obligatory “where are they now” chapters start on page 150. Matty Simmons covered much of the territory in his enjoyable 1994 book IF YOU DON’T BUY THIS BOOK WE’LL KILL THIS DOG which is the history of THE NATIONAL LAMPOON. If you have to purchase one Matty Simmons book this year, dig that twenty year-old tome off the internet.
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