For those wondering why the directing career of cartoonist-turned-director "Savage" Steve Holland lasted only three theatrical features, How I Got Into College may shed some light. Then again, it may not. While Holland's third film is not up to the quality of the first two -- Better Off Dead and (to a lesser extent) One Crazy Summer -- neither is it a career-killing misfire. It is, however, a bit all over the place. The unmistakable zaniness of his first two features is present here, but it's applied haphazardly alongside some gooey sentiment, and it extends to the structure of the narrative as well. Ostensibly, the "I" in the title refers to Marlon Browne (Corey Parker), that reliable archetype of 80s movies: the dorky kid who loves the prom queen. However, the prom queen (Lara Flynn Boyle) could also be the "I," since she's a sympathetic co-protagonist, rather than the unattainable symbol she'd be in most of these movies. How I Got Into College also focuses sporadic attention on a third applicant (a poor student from Detroit played by Tichina Arnold), as well as on the politics of the admissions officers of fictitious Ramsey College (among them Philip Baker Hall, Anthony Edwards, Charles Rocket and Finn Carter), who show a frankly unbelievable amount of interest in these three applicants. The animated cutaways Holland employed so charmingly in his first two films are absent, replaced by two guys in glasses playing out a bunch of those logic problems from the math portion of the SATs. For all of its attention deficit disorder, How I Got Into College is essentially sweet and likable; its greatest sin is that it's not very memorable. Holland did direct the straight-to-video third Legally Blonde film 20 years later, but by that point he wasn't very memorable, either.
by Derek Armstrong review