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‘College’ feels like four wasted years

Like a fraternity hazing, the film is sexist, gross, and simultaneously homophobic and homoerotic; like a freshman dying of alcohol poisoning, it’s not funny in the slightest.

“College sucks,” observes one character in this new movie, and one can definitely say the same thing about “College.” Like a fraternity hazing, the film is sexist, gross, and simultaneously homophobic and homoerotic; like a freshman dying of alcohol poisoning, it’s not funny in the slightest.

Hewing to the “Superbad” formula as closely as it can, “College” gives us the sensitive guy (Drake Bell as Kevin), the fat guy (Carter, played obnoxiously by Andrew Caldwell) and the skinny nerd (“American Idol” vet Kevin Covais as Morris).

As the film begins, Kevin’s longtime girlfriend dumps him, saying he’s too dull for her and that she wants to spend their last year of high school partying and having fun. Kevin and Morris have a college visitation planned for the weekend, and Carter tags along for what they hope will be three days of keggers and naked sorority girls.

Rather than stay in their assigned dorm room with a creepy porn obsessive, the trio heads over to the Beta Phi house, where Carter’s cousin was once a legacy. Since the subhuman Beta Phis were denied a new pledge class because of excessive hazing — one of their number spends the entire film in a wheelchair and full-body cast — they take in the kids so they can abuse them all weekend long.

And that, basically, is all that happens. The guys get offered booze — but then have to drink body shots off the frat’s hairiest, slobbiest member. They attend a wild party — only to discover that it’s being paid for with Morris’ parents’ credit card, which the frat boys stole from his wallet. Morris speeds to his scholarship interview after a night of excess — unaware that the Beta Phis have scrawled obscenities all over his face in Sharpie.

It’s not like this kind of comedy can’t be funny, or even brilliant — “National Lampoon’s Animal House” remains the ne plus ultra of the genre, and John Hughes later proved you could balance out-of-control teen party scenes with actual characterization and plot. But “College” just wants to show barely-legal, post-adolescent women flashing their assets and toilets overflowing with poop. (This movie rivals Pasolini’s “Salo,” newly out on DVD from the Criterion Collection, in its on-screen portrayal of fecal matter.)

“College” also throws around homophobic slurs on almost every occasion possible, but at the same time it lingers over scenes like the high schoolers drinking tequila out of frat-boy orifices best left unspecified and a gay frat party that involves a naughty glow-in-the-dark game.

The fact that “College” was directed by a woman (first-timer Deb Hagan) frankly boggles the mind. One can only hope she enjoys the honorary Y chromosome she earned for making such a misogynist and ugly-to-look-at first feature.

The script by Dan Callahan and Adam Ellison does the cast no favors. Only Covais, stuck playing McLovin Lite, displays any kind of charm. Here’s hoping he gets another chance at acting, preferably in a non-stomach-turning movie. (Bell’s “Drake & Josh” co-star Josh Peck got rave reviews this summer for “The Wackness” while Bell is stuck in this mess. That’s got to be the widest chasm between Nickelodeon stars since Kenan Thompson got cast on “Saturday Night Live” while Kel Mitchell went on to host “Dance 360.”)

The cherry on this rancid sundae is a pointless cameo by Verne Troyer as himself. Troyer made headlines recently when he tried to stop an estranged girlfriend from releasing their sex tape, but if he willingly appeared in both “The Love Guru” and “College,” one has to wonder just how bad that tape could be in comparison.