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Back to School (1986)



Average Rating: 7/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 2

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 32,686

My Rating

Movie Info

Self-made wealthy guy Thornton Melon (Rodney Dangerfield) decides he needs a better education -- and also to spend some time away from his cheating new wife. Thornton joins his son, Jason (Keith Gordon) at college. Dad hopes to gain his son's respect (isn't that always Dangerfield's motivation?), while his son tries to fit in with his snobbish and brutish fellow students. English professor Diane Turner (Sally Kellerman) forms a strong bond with Thornton, encouraging both father and son to stick



Jun 26, 2003

HBO Video

Watch It Now


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All Critics (32) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (27) | Rotten (5) | DVD (11)

The vibes, here, are all wrong, and Dangerfield's unique timing is disrupted in most scenes.

August 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I mean no disrespect to Rodney Dangerfield in suggesting that Back to School is a comedy that belongs back on the drawing board.

August 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Dangerfield seems to be setting the film's brisk pace and flawless timing himself.

August 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In this very funny Rodney Dangerfield comedy, there has been an important shift in Rodney's entertainment persona, a shift that has made this small film a monster hit.

January 16, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a good character for Dangerfield, one that veers him away from the 'I don't get no respect' pathos that comes too easily to him, and enough attention is paid to the minimal plot to integrate Dangerfield's classically constructed one-liners.

February 27, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[An] acceptable time-passer.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Classic '80s comedy has lots of profanity, innuendo.

June 17, 2014 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Dangerfield proves once again why he's one of the funniest men on screen.

August 1, 2013 Full Review Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Back to School is furious fun.

August 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Philadelphia Daily News

The profoundly strange presence of Rodney Dangerfield triumphs over sloppy writing and lumpy editing in this sometimes raunchy farce.

August 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor

This is at best a flyweight summer movie.

August 1, 2013 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

One of the brightest (and least pretentious) comedies of the past quarter-century, the 1986 box office hit Back to School is the sort of film that's easy to watch repeatedly over the years.

August 27, 2010 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

The result is unsophisticated, unilluminating, unambitious, and hilarious.

February 27, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Observe, and offer cod psychological analysis to your friends.

February 27, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

This Rodney Dangerfield vehicle is a lot better than it should be.

February 27, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Dangerfield dominates most the film, happily upending everything around him.

August 18, 2007 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Dangerfield's best cinematic offering, but it's the late Sam Kinison's cameo that steals the show.

October 28, 2005

Dangerfield at his feature film best--and no, really, I do mean that as a good thing.

March 24, 2004

Ba-da-bing, punch line, ba-da-boom.

December 22, 2003 Full Review Source:

Rodney Dangerfield's funniest film

July 15, 2003
Lawrence Journal-World

Audience Reviews for Back to School

Rodney Dangerfield is one of the greatest stand up comedians ever. His timing and delivery are simply perfect. This films shows that he also had some great acting talent. Nothing that pushes him too far, but certainly enough to propel the story along. Dangerfield decides to attend his son's college to help his son through the hard times. Obviously they each learn a little about each other along the way. There are many sequences and characters you will be familiar with, but Dangerfield is particularly lovable. He's supported by a strong supporting cast. The best moments are when Dangerfield proves himself as more than just a one-liner comedian.
September 10, 2011

Super Reviewer

A very funny, but somewhat stupid, comedy starring Dangerfield. There are a couple of really funny jokes, but there are also some not very funny jokes. My favourite part is when Oingo Boingo plays at the party.
January 27, 2011

Super Reviewer

Rodney Dangerfield at the top of his game, giving out laughs and a heartfelt father/son story. The premise is hilarious in itself, but the execution of it is what really makes it great. Kieth Gordon is a great straight man to the very lively and over the top nature of his onscreen father. Robert Downey Jr. also plays a pretty hilarious rendition of Robert Smith going to college part time. I like how this criticizes the the college experiences as well as romanticizing it.
January 26, 2011

Super Reviewer

Not sure why, but this Rodney Dangerfield film actually improves with repeated viewings. Classic 80s comedy.
June 27, 2008

Super Reviewer

    1. Thornton Melon: With the shape my body is in, I could donate it to science fiction.
    – Submitted by rick b (2 years ago)
    1. Thornton Melon: Bring a pitcher of beer every seven minutes until someone passes out, then bring one every ten minutes.
    – Submitted by rick b (2 years ago)
    1. Diane: Whoever wrote that doesn't know the first thing about Kurt Vogenegut!
    2. Thornton Melon: And another thing Vogenegut, I'm stopping payment on the check!!
    – Submitted by sean b (2 years ago)
    1. Thornton Melon: Class huh? Let's talk about class ok Vanessa. There's you and Gorgio in the guest room. Very classy. There's you and Gorgio in the rumpus room, another classy one. Whoo this one i can't figure out! There's you, there's Gorgio, what's with the midget? Hey wait I've got more!
    – Submitted by sean b (2 years ago)
    1. Thornton Melon: Call me sometime, when you have no class.
    – Submitted by sean b (2 years ago)
View all quotes (5)

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