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‘Shithouse’ review: Movie rises above vulgar title

Don’t let the title fool you.

Shithouse is one of those movies a person already knows about just by looking at its title. Set on a college campus, the movie is obviously a gross out comedy that has plenty of nudity and hits every low hanging fruit joke imaginable. If the antagonist is not the head of the frat house, it is definitely the nerd who wants to get the hot chick. 

The movie is none of these things. Instead, it is a toned down movie about a normal guy (Cooper Raiff, who is also the director and writer). While he is trying to win the affections of a fellow student (Dylan Gelula), there is little of the shenanigans seen in hard partying college movies. Shithouse wants to win audiences over with its characters instead of goofy nonsense.

Raiff’s Alex seems like a typical wallflower character. His roommate wants little to do with him and even his getting invited to a party at the titular frat house seems like a mistake. His woefully awkward attempts at conversation with Gelula’s Maggie further add to the stereotype. The audience already knows Alex and have expectations of the character.

While Shithouse does follow some tropes, there is much more to the characters. Alex is more than just a socially awkward lothario. He genuinely misses his mom and sister. This feeling of homesickness is an often visited one in college movies. Here, it handles it with a more tender touch. The story is a very grounded one that will draw audiences in due to its familiarity.

This makes watching the developing love between Alex and Maggie much more pleasant to watch. The two are grounded in reality which makes them relatable. Shithouse feels less about the college experience (though there is definitely some of that) than about two people in particular.  Audiences will root for the two of them to get together as soon as they meet. 

Shithouse is also helped by the great chemistry between its two leads. For some who watch a romantic comedy – even a non traditional one – even the best story does not work if the couple finding love does not resonate with the audience. Raiff and Gelula both deliver natural performances. The two further add to the intimate feel of the film. 

College movies about people finding love can be fun, if generic. While Shithouse may follow the formula to some extent, it has its own take on the genre. Instead of being another one in the bunch, it has its own individual feel. 

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