It is unfortunate for the college-age movie-loving crowd that high school seems to be a phase of life many films embrace. The Breakfast Club, Dazed and Confused, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Sixteen Candles and American Pie make an end to high school teen cinema seem so distant.
But fear not, fellow college students. There are plenty of great movies that highlight college life. These movies have got it all: the pranks, the eating habits, the parties, the flings and – if time allows -the classes.
If you’re looking for a great date movie, rent Love and Basketball, starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan. Lathan plays Monica Wright, a young woman who shares a dream of playing professional basketball with her childhood friend Quincy McCall (Epps). The two basketball enthusiasts grow up next door to each other, and eventually fall in love in high school. Their love continues into college, as do their dreams of professional basketball. When their aspirations force them to put their love on the backburner, Monica and Quincy go their separate ways, but college is not the last time they see each other.
From romance we jump to drama with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s higher education masterpiece, Good Will Hunting. Winner of the 1998 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, the film follows the story of Matt Damon’s character, Will Hunting. He is a young man with a brilliant mind, but cleans the floors at a prestigious college in Boston.
His mathematical genius is discovered by a professor, who offers to teach Will. Getting an education puts Will at odds with his friends and his neighborhood, but it puts him in the company of a beautiful med student, played by Minnie Driver, and a washed-up psychiatrist (played by Robin Williams in one of his greatest performances) who shows Will that there is more to life than he was raised to believe.
The next category is perhaps the most popular with students when it comes to movies with a college setting: the gross-out comedy. Foremost in this category is the John Landis classic National Lampoon’s Animal House, starring comic icon John Belushi. It follows the outrageous antics of the Delta fraternity, where public drunkenness and seven-year college educations are commonplace. The story is a minor detail – it is the pranks and the parties that deserve careful attention.
Revenge of the Nerds, the 1984 cult classic starring pre-ER Anthony Edwards and featuring Curtis Armstrong is one of college cinema’s most memorable titles. Tired of being pushed around and overlooked by their athletically-focused campus, a group of freshmen nerds opt to start their own fraternity. It is terrifically funny and filled with plenty of jokes and dance numbers, but the importance of Revenge of the Nerds lies in its power to unite those who like to scream “Nerds!” as a battle cry.
Finally, there is The Paper Chase, the movie to end all college movies. The Paper Chase tells the story of James T. Hart, a Harvard Law student eager to pass the course taught by the professor from Hell. In the midst of trying to make the grade, Hart, played by Timothy Bottoms, meets and falls in love with a woman named Susan, who makes Hart’s goal of impressing his professor diminish – until he finds out that Susan is the professor’s daughter.
These movies have all been out for a while and can be found at video-rental stores. They’re cheaper than the movies anyway.
Marta Rusek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.