John Belushi and Stephen Furst in a scene from “National Lampoon’s Animal House.”
In this last sweltering month of summer, undergrads tend to get that campus itch. The break has been nice, sure, but you’re ready to trade in frisbee at the beach for frisbee on the quad. While we can’t speed up time to fall semester, this just might be the next best thing.
These 10 movies are quintessential college pics that you’ve got to see before you flip your tassel and toss your mortarboard. Get ready for the new year by chipping away at this list, or get prepping for a dorm movie marathon come fall.
• National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)
Heralded as the ultimate college farce, Animal House is a frat flick for the ages. John Belushi and his cohorts are ribald, raunchy and riotously funny as the brazen brothers of Delta Tau Chi challenging the administration.
The movie is based on the magazine National Lampoon, and features stories inspired by the filmmakers’ days at Dartmouth College, Washington University in St. Louis and McMaster University. Another killer college movie from the magazine: National Lampoon’s Van Wilder.
• Old School (2003)
Despite the fact that all three of the main characters in this movie aren’t in school, it’s one of the greatest college comedies around. All-star funny men Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell star as has-been thirty-somethings who start a fraternity to relive their glory days. Side-splitting debauchery ensues; it’s no surprise Old School shares a producer with Animal House (Ivan Reitman) and a director with The Hangover (Todd Phillips).
• St. Elmo’s Fire (1985)
Fan of The Breakfast Club? Catch a graduated Brat Pack in this classic coming-of-age story about a group of Georgetown University students adjusting to post-grad life with decidedly mixed results.
The diverse cast of characters leaves everyone with someone to relate to; notable roles include Demi Moore as a reckless and addiction-riddled wild child and Judd Nelson as an ambitious (nay, ruthless) young politician. The best part of all? Rob Lowe painfully miming on saxophone at the crowded St. Elmo’s Bar. That scene and this movie are not to be missed.
• Accepted (2006)
While we can’t exactly condone creating your own “college” in real life, it makes for great comedy on the silver screen. After receiving nothing but rejection letters, Justin Long (a.k.a. the Mac guy) creates a fake college to assuage his parents.
Once Bartleby rents a psychiatric hospital, hires a dean from the Foot Locker and admits hundreds more otherwise-rejected students, the South Harmon Institute of Technology (think about the initials) doesn’t seem so fake after all. With course listings like Foreign Affairs: Hooking Up Overseas and Rock Our Faces Off 222, we’re wishing we could have applied to South Harmon, too!
• Love Story (1970)
The title says it all; Love Story is the ultimate tale of college romance. Forbidden love and class conflict take center stage at Harvard University, where a law student and an aspiring musician fall deeply in love to their parents’ chagrin. Romeo and Juliet go Ivy League.
• The Social Network (2010)
Millennials may not be able to lay claim to many a college pic, but The Social Network is the kind of blockbuster that counts for double.
The highly acclaimed film is a tightly wound and stylized take on the inception of Facebook and the man between the blue and white altar to which we all worship. Aaron Sorkin’s writing is whip smart, just like his characters, and you’d be just as wise to throw it to the top of your queue.
• Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
Another remnant of 1980s comedy, Revenge of the Nerds has long earned its spot in the cinematic time capsule. Computer whiz kids take on the jocks in this prophetic knee-slapper that plants the seed for a time when geeks and nerds can reign supreme.
• A Beautiful Mind (2001)
This phenomenal film follows the story of a young John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics, at Princeton University. There, he grapples with the effects of paranoid schizophrenia on his brilliant work in game theory. Heartbreakingly exquisite, A Beautiful Mind suits every audience (as long as they’re equipped with a box of tissues).
• The Rules of Attraction (2002)
Based on the 1987 satirical novel by the same name, The Rules of Attraction pokes dark fun at the exploits of a group of privileged students at an East Coast liberal arts college. This controversial cult classic hit plenty a nerve at its release as much for its inventive style as for its callous dealings with sex, drugs and birthright.
• Good Will Hunting (1997)
This movie put Matt Damon and Ben Affleck on the map. Not only do they star in this critics’ darling, but they also earned an Academy Award for writing it.
Damon plays the titular role of Will Hunting, a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a secret penchant for algebraic graph theory. A professor takes Will under his wing to hone his raw genius, but it quickly proves to be a struggle to bring Will over to the other side of the track.
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