Animal House fans will find some anecdotes of interest, but there is barely enough here for a comprehensive magazine article on the making of the classic movie.
As the publisher of National Lampoon and co-producer of its first movie smash, Simmons (The Credit Card Catastrophe: The 20th Century Phenomenon That Changed the World, 1995, etc.) worked with a wide variety of funny people and writers. Unfortunately, in these pages there are too few of them and too much of Simmons, who frames his account with his early years “as a very young press agent in the 1950s” through his launching of magazines for Diner’s Club and Weight Watchers, and culminates in an afterword that begins: “So, Animal House made me a film producer and for three decades people have been asking me what a producer does. I will tell you.” The author mainly shows himself to be a master of hyperbole, bathing every aspect of the production in superlatives: “It became more than a movie. Animal House changed comedy”; “casting, particularly of the young Deltas and Omegas, was superior to any comedy movie before or after Animal House”; its screenplay was “the tightest 110 pages of writing I had seen before or I have seen since.” Throughout the book, Simmons provides too little revelation about the shooting itself or insight into the talent involved. Instead, the text is padded with excerpts from dozens of reviews, summaries of outtakes and accounts of what those who participated did before the movie and where their careers have gone since.
The title and cover promise the sort of hilarious irreverence that the book rarely delivers.