Let go of the constraints that make high school such a prison and enjoy yourself in college. As a result, college movies tend to have a chaotic vibe. For some reason, movies about university seem to focus more on drinking and partying than on learning and studying.
As far as I know, this is the typical college film: toga parties, sororities, and hazing. However, the reality is significantly more diverse, much like the reality of college itself. College students are depicted as going off the rails as soon as they are given any freedom from parental oversight, but there are other images of students battling the odds to achieve, or facing the sometimes horrific repercussions of this freedom. Here are 15 movies about college that you should definitely watch.
Accepted is, in a sense, the ideal college movie for today’s young adults. When you think about it, they had been told their entire lives that education was the key to their future, only to have the rug snatched from under them during the recession and become proud owners of a meaningless piece of paper that no longer guaranteed a well-paying employment (to say nothing of record-breaking student loan debt.) Their college comedy should be about how the American university system is inherently messed up and revolve around a group of would-be students who design their own school in a way that makes sense for them.
As a prank, Bartleby (Justin Long) sets up a fake institution to fool his parents into thinking he’s in college. His fictional school gradually takes on a life of its own as more students arrive, demanding dormitories, a curriculum, and even the creation of an emblem for the institution. Yes, it’s pointless and nave, but then again, college is the same way.
14. The Skulls
The presence of “The Skulls” on this list might mock at you. “Skull and Bones” is an inexpensive collegiate thriller about a fabled Yale secret society that comprises members of the political elite, including a number of elected officials and even a president or two. Those all-boy pranks that happen when you’re in a school that won’t admit female students until the late 1960s, you know.
In “The Skulls,” Joshua Jackson plays a young man from a less fortunate background than the rest of his contemporaries. His suspicions are aroused when the body of his roommate is discovered in a suspicious manner, and he begins to wonder just how dangerous this group really is. Even though it received harsh criticism from reviewers, this was the pinnacle of early 2000s entertainment. It resonated with young people and was profitable enough to launch two sequels and the careers of some of its performers, such as Paul Walker and Leslie Bibb.
13. Old School
If you want the entire college experience, you don’t have to be a teenager. Old School explores the idea that you may revert to your frat guy days whenever you want and have a good time with your pals once more. If you’re still acting like a scummy college student, you’ve clearly never ceased being a full-grown adult.
In the wake of his recent breakup with his long-term girlfriend, Mitch (Luke Wilson) moves into a house near a college campus and learns that it must be used for student housing, he and his pals decide to build their own fraternity, complete with wild parties and full-on freshmen hazing. “Old School” preserves the mood of an old-fashioned collegiate comedy, despite the fraternity members’ older age.
12. Real Genius
Real Genius” is a fun science fiction comedy from the 1980s about some university students who are sent to work on a top-secret defense project: building a laser that can target and kill people on the ground or in orbit. It’s actually Val Kilmer’s breakthrough role in “Real Genius” that has made him a household name, but that’s not all.
Films representing the dawn of the computer age, such as “Real Genius,” challenged the stereotype of the science nerd. In a similar vein to “Revenge of the Nerds,” which was released a year earlier, it attempted to convey the idea that, far from being socially awkward misfits, geeks were actually quite cool. If only they had foreseen the rise of toxic nerd culture in the next few decades.
11. Pitch Perfect
Singing a cappella in a university choir has had to be the most unflatteringly collegiate of all the extracurricular options. A horrible pun in the name of their name was allegedly a contractual requirement for everyone involved. What if, as in “Pitch Perfect,” a cappella groups became fashionable?
Barden Bellas, an all-female a cappella group on school, pressures student Anna Kendrick’s Beca, played by Kendrick, into joining despite her reservations. Barden Treblemakers, a boys’ a capella group, are their fierce rivals, and Beca’s blossoming romance with one of the male members complicates the rivalry. Even if you’re expecting the songs and choreography in “Pitch Perfect” to be boring, if you can get over the idea of a bunch of college people hanging out and having a “riff-off,” you’ll probably enjoy them.
10. Black Christmas
Despite the fact that the majority of the action in “Black Christmas” takes place on a college campus, we never see the protagonists in an academic setting. Instead, the enormous, creepy home where the girls all dwell — and where many of them will die — is the focal point of the story. Unknown and evil forces stalk the girls throughout the film, beginning with creepy but ultimately innocuous phone calls until turning violent and killing them off one by one.
There is no better horror film than “Black Christmas” to show the fragility of women, especially when they are alone in their homes, where they should feel safest. In the attic, a plastic-wrapped victim was grotesquely rocked in a rocking chair for days before her housemates realized she was missing. The “attic space” on your real estate wish list can now be crossed off.
9. L’auberge espagnole
College students from all over the world travel around Europe, live in run-down apartments with other international students, and subsist on booze, coffee, and cigarettes while studying abroad. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The French film “L’auberge espagnole” (or “The Spanish Inn”) has a distinct aspirational tone. While Xavier (Romain Duris) discovers who he is while studying abroad in Spain, we are enthralled and a little bit envious. His encounters with a diverse group of new acquaintances from all over the world are delightful, and they perfectly depict the wonder and thrill of being a young adult and venturing out into the world for the first time. French audiences flocked to see “L’auberge espagnole,” which went on to generate two more films: “Russian Dolls,” released in 2005, and “Chinese Puzzle,” released in 2013.
8. Starter for Ten
The persistent presence of “University Challenge,” a TV quiz show that matches teams of college students from various universities against one another to test their general knowledge, is a vital foundational feature of the British college experience. Is an activity that may either make or break a college overachiever’s entire academic year for Trivial Pursuit lovers everywhere.
First-year Bristol University student “Starter for Ten” is infatuated with “University Challenge” and will stop at nothing to join the team. Along the way, he has to contend with racial bias and love entanglements that put his job as a team member in jeopardy. James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rebecca Hall, and Dominic Cooper are just a few of the up-and-coming performers who appeared in “Starter for Ten” before they went on to prominence. Notably absent from the cast is none other than James Corden.
7. Happy Death Day
In the vein of “Groundhog Day,” “Happy Death Day” takes place in a sorority house, but with murder thrown in. That’s all you can ask for, isn’t it? Jessica Rothe plays Tree, a college freshman who wakes up in a stranger’s dorm room and has a bad day that finishes with her being murdered by an unsettling person wearing a baby mask. This is the very worst conceivable start to the day.
That is, unless you contemplate the idea of having to relive the day of your murder repeatedly, as Tree does. She’s trapped in a time loop and believes the only way out is to make it through the night and find out who attacked her. Ingenious and witty, “Happy Death Day” stands out among comedies of this type. A standout performance by Rothe, who takes on the weight of the entire film and succeeds admirably.
6. The Freshman
There has been a college film for much longer than most spectators are aware of – in fact, since the dawn of cinema. Films such as “The Freshman,” which stars Harold Lloyd, were massively popular during the silent-era period in the 1920s.
Lloyd was a standout among the era’s crop of on-screen comics. When it comes to romantic comedies, Lloyd was able to combine the best of both Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. To win over the girl of his dreams, Lloyd, in “The Freshman,” is a skinny but eager high school student who is keen to make the football team despite his diminutive stature. His teammates abuse him like a punching bag, but he never gives up, and as a result, he creates one of the most inspiring sporting moments in history, as well as a heartwarming love tale.
5. Urban Legend
“Urban Legend’s” greatest flaw is that it will always be eclipsed by “Scream.” Everybody and their brother wanted to cash in on the success of Wes Craven’s clever horror parody, thus hundreds of high school and college slasher films were made when it came out. Aside from being a blatant rip-off of “Scream,” “Urban Legend” has never been given the recognition it deserves as an original horror film.
In the film, the college campus is plagued by a series of gruesome murders that evoke classic urban legends, such as the man who attacks a couple while they are out on a romantic drive; the motorist who desperately attempts to alert a fellow driver of the man hiding in her backseat; and a young college student who returns home late at night to find their roommate dead and the chilling message, “Are you glad you didn’t turn the light?” With a late 1990s cast that hits all the right notes, “Urban Legend” does the same thing that “Scream” did: it toys with what we know and expect from horror movies.
College is often portrayed in films as a never-ending party. Once you’ve found your tribe and are comfortable in your new surroundings, it could be. Students don’t take into account the severe loneliness many people feel during the first few weeks of freshman year, when they don’t know anyone, share a room with someone they don’t know, and are miles away from home.
It’s hard for an introverted young man to connect with others when it seems like everyone else has a group of friends. “Sh*thouse,” despite its somewhat harsh name, beautifully illustrates this struggle.” Sh*thouse,” a low-key, conversational film about the progressive transformation of its protagonist Alex (played by Cooper Raiff, who also wrote and directed the film) out of his shell, is a refreshing change of pace in a crowded genre.
3. Animal House
What if I said “Animal House” was the “Citizen Kane” of college movies? Would that be an overstatement? Maybe! But that doesn’t diminish the fact that it is so. On a constant verge of expulsion owing to their increasingly chaotic and disorderly actions, Delta Tau Chi fraternity is shown in the film “Animal House.” It tells the story of two freshman who decide to rush after realizing they have little chance of getting into a more prestigious fraternity. They’ll be sorry they made that choice, no doubt.
When “Animal House” was released, John Belushi was the only cast member who had already achieved stardom as a result of his appearances on “Saturday Night Live.” But “Animal House” also featured a number of actors, like Kevin Bacon, Karen Allen, and Tom Hulce, for whom this film served as a launching pad. Some of the film’s humor may not have aged well, but Bluto’s renowned rallying speech or the sheer delight of the toga party are impossible to resist.
2. Legally Blonde
Yes, law school is a college degree, right? In terms of collegiate atmosphere, there’s no better place than Harvard: Every single one of their institutions, from the undergraduate college to the law school, demands greatness.
Students at Harvard are frequently viewed as as overachievers on their way to law school or a seat in Congress, akin to an unbuttered slice of white bread in a long line of WASPs. Because Elle (Reese Witherspoon), the perennially cheery Beverly Hills resident who is determined to excel at law school, achieves it by pure force of will, “Legally Blonde” is so deliciously disarming. Elegant and well-dressed to the point of appearing intimidating, Elle possesses a heart of gold that makes her all the more special. While law school tends to foster a competitive atmosphere, her upbeat demeanor serves as a welcome counterbalance and is a joy to witness.
1. Good Will Hunting
In spite of its reputation as one of the most distinguished colleges in the country (if not the world), many of Harvard’s students attend for reasons of family ties, financial support, or a combination of the two. So many brilliant people are denied admission to the school for a variety of reasons that you don’t have to be a genius to attend. Is it possible that the smartest person at Harvard wasn’t an undergraduate, but a custodial employee? This is the question that “Good Will Hunting” asks.
Will Hunting is a native Bostonian who never considered attending a prestigious university like Harvard. Because of this, he was unable to fulfill his full potential in school. The man washing the floors is suddenly discovered to be a math prodigy after answering an apparently impossible issue on the whiteboard of a college-level math class. Will, played by Matt Damon, is not only a lot sharper than everyone thinks he is, but he is also attempting to overcome a lifetime of suffering that has left him emotionally stunted.