Some very college movies, mostly about college
Should you somehow find yourself during this first week back to school with a few spare hours I humbly offer this list to help pass the time. This carefully curated list is packed with variety to try and appeal the various movie tastes and needs of a student, while staying true to the college era criteria. None of these picks are particularly new but all are, in this girl’s opinion, classics; classics that hold up to a delayed first time viewing and especially, multiple screenings thereafter.
Featured below are comedies and dramas to suit any situation; from a chill night with your old or new crew of BFF’s or a date night with bae. Included are movies for even the most painful Sunday morning where your hangover is so bad you can only watch the movie with one eye because the other one is smashed into the pillow. So, here is hoping that drunk you was kind enough to pop that laptop within arm’s reach because without further ado, here are the contenders for your consideration.
1) National Lampoon’s Animal House
(1978) Starring: John Belushi, Karen Allen, Tom Hulce, Stephen Furst
After this pick there is truly no ranking of movies by quality. However, this movie takes top spot on any college movie list for a reason. Tis it folks, the OG, the one that started it all, it is the most college movie of all time. The story revolves around the Delta fraternity as they try to maintain their wild carefree lifestyle as the Dean of students and their rival fraternity seek to disband them. It features the unforgettable band of Delta brothers whose nicknames and personalities are reminiscent of characters we tend find on our own campus. Animal House is worth a watch for many reasons but if nothing else, it can be credited for giving all teenagers the unreasonable idea that no college experience is complete without a Toga Party.
2) Legally Blonde
(2001) Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Mathew Davis
Iconic is a fitting word for this modern classic. Elle Woods is a seemingly dumb, blonde, sorority sister turned Harvard law student which was initially an attempt to win back her boyfriend. This lighthearted romantic comedy has held up predominantly due to Reese Witherspoon’s on point performance as the melodramatic but endearing Elle Woods. This movie is worth a re-watch for more than just its’ humour and incredible early 2000s’ costuming. It’s actually an uplifting story that is all about female empowerment, an especially good pick for a girls’ night in.
3) The Social Network
(2010) Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake
The story of Mark Zuckerberg’s transformation from an off-putting but genius student, to that of a self-made billionaire whose invention of Facebook, that essentially owns our entire social experience, is what The Social Network tells. If you’re looking for something that’s perhaps a little more subtle and smart, it does not disappoint and even holds up after multiple watches. Not only does it have a high entertainment value, quick and witty dialogue, or captivating performances, it also serves to remind us that we students can effect major change in the world.
(2006) Starring: Justin Long, Jonah Hill, Blake Lively
After getting rejected from every college, one high school grad convinces his friends and fellow rejects to build a fake college in order to hide the rejection from their parents. This light hearted comedy is probably only a mediocre comedy at best, but features a younger but ever funny Jonah Hill, a young and gorgeous Blake Lively and a cool concept of trying to fake an education and ending up learning in the process. For a B-level movie it’s worth a re-watch for some cheap laughs but also a few moments of genuine commentary on the post-secondary education system as it exists and how students exist within it.
5) Good Will Hunting
(1997) Starring: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Robin Williams
A math genius from the rough part of Boston solves the impossible questions that plague the students and faculty of the university he works for. What makes this movie worth watching initially and then over and over again are the unforgettable performances and the compelling underdog story. But mostly, it’s every single word of dialogue from William’s character, Sean, who offers the character Will and viewers a real-world learning experience by reminding us what is really important in life.
6) The House Bunny
(2008) Starring: Anna Faris, Emma Stone, Kat Dennings
Featuring a predominantly female cast of comedians this pick is a great light hearted comedy. The House Bunny is a story that revolves around Farris’s character getting kicked out of the playboy mansion and resorting to becoming the house mother to an outcast sorority in order to get by. The characters are over the top caricatures but Farris’s even more absurd portrayal of an aging playboy bunny turned den mother is worth at least a few laughs. And if nothing else Kat Denning’s shows up as another sarcastic and dead pan character and who can’t relate to that?
7) Dead Poets Society
(1989) Starring: Ethan Hawke, Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard
Although this movie does not technically take place in college, the boarding school style and overall tone of the movie has a distinct ivy league feel to it. Featuring Robin Williams in another of his iconic roles as Mr. Keating, the movie revolves around a group of young men who discover a passion for life under his guidance. This is a particularly good watch for all those Art students wondering why their degree is worthwhile, Mr. Keating is pretty convincing about the benefits of literature and the humanities.
8) Mona Lisa Smiles
(2003) Starring: Julia Roberts, Julia Stiles, Kirsten Dunst
The story revolves around Roberts as Katherine Watson, the new Art History professor and her students at a prestigious East Coast Ladies college in the 1960’s. The movie follows Watson as she challenges her students on the role of women in the home, in education and in the world. This historical drama hits both serious and comedic tones while driving home some key messages about stereotypes and gender roles. It is an especially worthwhile 2 hours due specifically to a killer female ensemble cast.
9) Across the Universe
(2007) Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Joe Anderson
This musical is about a college dropout, his sister, and a British immigrant living in Greenwhich Village during the counterculture movement of the 1960s. The songs are all Beatles cover and the visuals emulate all the psychedelic-ness of the movement. But it’s relatable due to the way all the characters have their own personal obstacles they’re looking to overcome along with the responsibilities to try and influence the world around them, which happens to be in political and social turmoil. Sound familiar? Overall it’s a movie that’s worth more to listen to than to watch, but if you’re looking to toss something on while you multitask, I recommend this.
10) Star Wars
(1977) Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford
It’s Star Wars, enough said. And, if you’re really hungover you may even need to watch the entire original trilogy and maybe even the prequels to give yourself enough time to recover. This franchise offers comedy, action, drama, nostalgia to help cure the aftereffects from the night or the many nights before. Even if you’re not a particular fan of all that is glorious about Star Wars, Lucas’s dialogue has been known to aggravate the gag reflex, so at least it’ll serve to cure your nausea.
Happy watching everyone!