As an incoming freshman, most of your knowledge of college life comes from older siblings or the movies. And for those of us without siblings, it’s up to Hollywood. But wait — movies are nothing like real life. You probably won’t get the girl in the end, and let’s face it, you will probably never wear a toga. Here are six college movies you need to watch before reality hits you.
1. “The Social Network”
Before Mark Zuckerberg was a gazillionaire, he was a college student. David Fincher’s brilliant and fictionalized account of Zuckerberg’s rise begins at Harvard Square, framed as a tale of jealousy between him and his friend Eduardo Saverin, a business wunderkind who manages to get into the fraternity Zuckerberg couldn’t. Aaron Sorkin’s sharp and quick-paced screenplay implies that the roots of Zuckerberg’s personal problems lie in being rejected during college – from a girl he liked, from the social club he wanted to be in and from other ambitious people who just never took him seriously. (Freshman tip: just as Facebook isn’t “The” Facebook, Pipe Dream isn’t “The” Pipe Dream. Keep that in mind, and you’ll go far in life.)
2. “Old School”
Before Todd Phillips was the guy who made “The Hangover,” he was the guy who made “Old School.” The 2003 comedy stars Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn and Luke Wilson as adults who decide to regress (a common theme in Phillips’s movies) and re-experience frat life. Wilson’s character’s new house is near a university, and because his home is designated for student services or something like that, he and his friends decide to turn the building into a fraternity house that accepts everyone. Even Mark Zuckerberg would’ve gotten in. As a result, parties get wild, and odd characters populate the background, most memorably an elderly man named Blue. The team tries and fails to keep fraternity life and professional life separate and fail miserably with hilarious results.
3. “Back to School”
The plot gets needlessly complicated, but basically, Rodney Dangerfield goes to college. Although he already owns a successful business, he never got an education and decides to join his son at the fictional Grand Lakes University. Dangerfield’s character doesn’t have a transcript or SAT scores, but pays his way in by founding a new business school. Although his intention is to support his son, he becomes phenomenally popular – throwing parties, knocking down the walls between dorm rooms to make a larger living space and becoming the star of the diving team – and overshadows him. One of the best scenes in the movie is when Dangerfield needs to write a paper on “Slaughterhouse-Five” and hires Kurt Vonnegut, who makes a cameo in the movie, to write it. He gets an F.
4. “Pitch Perfect”
Already a cult classic, last year’s sleeper hit “Perfect Pitch” was the a cappella musical comedy that the world was waiting for. There are nine a cappella groups at Binghamton University, and let’s be honest, some of them aren’t aca-awesome. Maybe you can be the next Anna Kendrick and take one in a new direction.
5. “The Freshman”
In this audacious 1990 comedy, Matthew Broderick plays Clark Kellogg, an NYU freshman from a small town in Vermont. On his first day in New York, an Italian taxi driver zooms off with his suitcase. After noticing him by chance a few days later and chasing him down, Kellogg learns that the cabbie is part of New York City’s criminal underground, which is controlled by … Marlon Brando? Brando’s entire role is an extended riff on his iconic character in “The Godfather.” Soon enough, Kellogg agrees to run an odd job for the mob for some extra cash only to discover that his job involves illegally transporting a Komodo dragon to New Jersey. The movie is written and directed by Andrew Bergman, a BU graduate most famous for working on the screenplay of “Blazing Saddles.”
6. “National Lampoon’s Animal House”
What more is there to say about “Animal House?” It’s the movie that influenced a generation of comedy writers, providing the DNA for movies like “Old School” and “Van Wilder.” It launched the movie career of John Belushi. It’s the prototypical comedy movie, filled with partying, booze and rebellion. Here’s to college, and some cliché you won’t remember and will never forget.