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Life 101 Reviews

Viewing LIFE 101 is like being forced to watch the home movies of a college classmate you never liked to begin with. Insisting that his colorful buddies changed his life for the liberated better, this film's protagonist reminisces about his solidarity until you feel your head will split at the sound of one more beer-cap pop or bra-strap snap. Bookish student Ramsey (Corey Haim) slowly acclimatizes himself to the carpe diem philosophy of his dorm-mate Buck (Keith Coogan), who decides to remold the drudge in his own image. Ramsey learns that there's more to life than straight A's from Buck, campus stud Donnie (Louis Mandylor), and student body leader Lance (Kyle Cody). They encourage Ramsey in a de-virginizing romance with sorority gal Joy (Ami Dolenz), and later kid him out of his broken heart when she and he split. This unofficial fraternity almost self-destructs when Donnie is suspected in a series of campus rapes and Ramsey suspects Buck of trying to score with Joy. Donnie is killed while trying to protect a student from the real rapist, and Buck eulogizes their fallen comrade. Based on an autobiographical novel by screenwriter-producer-director Redge Mahaffey, LIFE 101 fails to move viewers to share its high opinion of Ramsey's tutors in life and l'amour. Buck rather seems to be a pathetic guru who manipulates his acolytes for the sense of power it gives him, a reservation that never arises in this reverential remembrance of things tumescent. Skimpily plotted, LIFE 101 is directed with the mindless zombie precision of synchronized swimming. Nor does the film's salute to good-natured prankishness mesh well with its occasional stabs at giving weight to these vapid memoirs. It's as if the later scripts of "Happy Days" were written by Marcel Proust. (Violence, nudity, substance abuse, profanity.)