New Ferrell, Poehler comedy features parody ‘Buckley University’

Bethany Blass, Print Managing Editor

The movie trailer for New Line Cinema and Warner Bros.’ upcoming comedy “The House” was released on Feb. 16. The film, starring Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler, features an interesting connection to the University, as the daughter of Ferrell and Poehler’s characters is offered acceptance to “Buckley University,” which bears several striking similarities to the University.

The film, scheduled to hit theaters on June 30, 2017, follows Ferrell and Poehler’s wild and impractical journey to make enough money to cover the hefty bill to their daughter’s dream school after losing her college fund. Desperate to find the money quickly, Ferrell and Poehler’s characters take advice from their neighbor, portrayed by Jason Mantzoukas, to run an illegal casino out of their basement.

For those familiar with the University, the film’s “fictional” college is easily recognizable. Within the trailer, an acceptance letter to Buckley University is displayed, featuring an orange and blue logo that is nearly identical to that of the University. Upon closer examination, the acceptance letter also includes a Lewisburg address and phone number that coincides with the University’s Office of Admissions contact information: 1 Dent Drive and 570-577-3000.

Ferrell’s character dons his daughter’s new school colors, orange and blue, in a T-shirt nearly indistinguishable from the University’s official licensed apparel, sold at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in downtown Lewisburg. The trailer also features a congratulatory poster for the daughter which includes a reference to the University’s mascot, the Bison.

Though the trailer’s connection to the University quickly caught the attention of students across campus, University officials weren’t as surprised by the film.

“I wouldn’t say we were ‘informed’ about the movie. We found out about it in November 2015 via social media. There were some photos on Twitter showing a campus in California donning orange and blue ‘Bucknell University’ signs. That certainly got our attention,” Chief Communications Officer Andy Hirsch said.

Initially taken aback by the incorporation of the University into Hollywood’s newest summer comedy, Hirsch and other University officials gathered more information to get a clearer understanding of how the University fit into the movie’s plot.

“We had some exchanges with the studio, and New Line Cinema assured us that Bucknell is incidental to the storyline, and that the University would not be portrayed in a false light. That was the last I heard of the movie until the trailer was released last week.” Hirsch said.“I was a bit surprised to see that they had changed the name from Bucknell to Buckley; we didn’t ask them to make that switch. Obviously, despite the name change, it’s still meant to be Bucknell.”

Some students worry that the movie portrays the University in a negative light. If the trailer is any indication, the movie paints a picture that schools like the University have become so expensive that families must resort to ludicrous schemes to afford it.

Regarding the legality of the apparent use of the University, as described by the University’s General Counsel Amy Foerster and reiterated by Hirsch, the law allows movie producers to depict real places in a way that is secondary to the movie plot. Thus, even if University officials sought to oppose the movie’s portrayal of the University, there is no legal basis to do so.

“So far it seems Bucknellians have reacted positively to the trailer, particularly through social media. I hope the movie does well, but, as I’ve joked with a few people, next time, ‘Buckley’ should let us proofread its acceptance letter; we would have caught the typo they missed,” Hirsch said.

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