Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Curious Case of King Frat

With my work, the internet and Netflix, I have access to a wide-ranging variety of movies with just a few simple keystrokes.

Pretty much the entire catalog of film is available between the three; a world of fantastic visions, astounding tales, and, in certain films, something approaching great art.

So two weeks ago I rented "King Frat" from Netflix.

"King Frat" is a low-budget "Animal House" ripoff, without that movie's boring stuff like plot, characterization and logical narrative structure to get in the way of a strange collection of gross-out vingettes.

Although I have to admit, the newspaper headline "Big Fart Contest Announced" in 40 point type was pretty funny, especially when lead character Gross Out exclaims, "Holy shit!" as if war had been announced. And yeah, the nerd frat guy who looked like a 40 year old Robert Crumb was good for a laugh.

But after a while the hijinx of Gross Out and the gang just weren't doing it for me and I decided to cut my losses and stop watching.

And then I saw Tigert Hall. Hey! This movie was filmed at the University of Florida! I used to work in that building. From then on I was fascinated. Every location, every set - did I know where that was? Perhaps one of my old apartments was even the setting for The Big Fart Contest!

Then the end credits thanked the University of Miami.

So I froze the image of the building that started my love affair with "King Frat" and compared it to an online image of Tigert Hall. Yep, same building. Would an architect design two identical buildings for two universities in the same state? That seemed unlikely.

So I contacted my former boss at the News and Public Affairs office. After some ribbing about my taste in movies, he watched the trailer on youtube and was positive that building in the opening scene was UF's Murphree Dorm, and I've got to agree - looking at it now, I recognize the area as the one I walked through to get to my friends Jenn and Julie's dorm.

So why was the University of Florida not credited in "King Frat?" Were they embarassed? Did the Big Fart Contest headline hit a little too close to home? Was there a crusty dean trying to stamp out campus shennanigans at the time? From what the movies have taught me, I'd wager quite a bit on the crusty dean theory.

If anyone has the answers to these questions, the American filmgoing public deserves to know.

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