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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


“[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
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #908,261 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: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Matty Simmons has written an enjoyable, enlightening, and informative recollection of what went into the production of "Animal House." Nothing more, nothing less. It's basically a memoir with some oral history thrown in. You will definitely learn some things you didn't.
Like Ned Tanen, the head of Universal and the one who greenlit the film, kept giving the filmmakers awful suggestions. But, in the end, he always acquiesced and said "Make the film you want." He has to be given credit for trusting the people he hired.
But I do have a few qualms.
One is that Martha Smith, who played Babs in the film, was "apprehensive" about auditioning for the Mandy role because of the long nude scene where Bluto is spying on her. I find this hard to believe from someone who was Playboy's Playmate of the Month in July 1973.
Also, I couldn't believe that Matty doesn't know that the famous Bluto "COLLEGE" sweatshirt is, in fact, a very dark green and not navy blue. If they're still selling them and they're navy blue, that would be.....incorrect.
There is a quote from Peter Reigert where they have spelled the name of his character "Boone" instead of "Boon" as it is in the rest of the book. An editor should have caught that one.
But these are minor quibbles. The book is easy to read, not very long, and perfect light summer reading.
I just wish he would have addressed one thing: it is known to anyone who knows anything about "Animal House" that Ramis, Miller, and Kenney each wrote a third of the movie. But, to this day, I have never been able to find out who wrote which third. That would have been nice to find out, once and for all.
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