The continued success of The Hangover has cemented director Todd Phillips, whose previous work includes Road Trip and Old School, as the go-to auteur for frat boy comedy. While this is accurate enough, as his films are sure to be quoted as keg parties for generations to come, it’s pretty extraordinary considering how Phillips’s career began.
After completing the well-regarded documentary Hated while still an undergraduate film student at NYU, Phillips won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1998 for his second documentary, Frat House. While it takes place in a familiar milieu for Phillips and contains some dark humor, the film is actually a pretty scathing expose on hazing rituals in fraternities. After the big Sundance victory, it was all set to air on HBO when, depending on who you believe, either pressure from subjects’ parents and fraternity organizations, or allegations that Phillips and co-director Andrew Gurland staged scenes, dissuaded the network from ever airing it (though somehow you can view it here).