Movie Recommendations to Get You Back to School


Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde.” (Courtesy YouTube)

By Megan Fisher, Arts Writer


School is back in session and that means mountains of homework and unsettling stress. Every day brings something new to learn. Anything from paying bills to buying cleaning supplies. You may even live in a new state away from your family for the first time. After a long day of classes and homework nothing helps to unwind better than a movie. Below are recommendations for five movies about college life. I feel that each are able to capture the important moments and overwhelming emotions present in this significant part of life. 

‘Legally Blonde’ (2001)

“What? Like it’s hard?” Get inspired by Elle Woods’ ambition and work ethic. “Legally Blonde” is a peppy, colorful comedy that follows Elle, a Malibu Barbie sorority girl to Harvard Law School. In between study sessions and costume parties, Elle discovers there’s more to her than the “dumb blonde stereotype.” The movie is elevated by a fizzy comic performance from Reese Witherspoon that’s much more nuanced than it looks. “Legally Blonde” is an incredibly easy watch, perfect for relaxing after a long day and recharging for the next study session.

“Legally Blonde” is available to stream on Amazon Prime.

‘Everybody Wants Some!!’ (2016)

What’s better than this? Just guys bein’ dudes. Richard Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some!!” is a study of a baseball team over the course of three days before fall semester starts. There’s no plot to speak of — it’s a hang-out movie, a total vibe-piece. It captures the drifting, and the endless possibilities that lay ahead the first time you are away from home. The movie looks back at the irresponsibility of young adult life with clear eyes and bewildered affection. It captures these feelings with humor, care and an eye for the weird little details that make us all too human.

“Everybody Wants Some!!” is available to rent on Amazon Prime.

‘Monsters University’ (2013)

You wouldn’t expect a movie about the college experience from Pixar, let alone a good one. Yet that’s what you get with “Monsters University.” A prequel to the iconic “Monsters Inc.” (2001), “Monsters University” finds Mike and Sully training to be professional scarers, starting out as rivals and slowly becoming friends. “Monsters University” comically heightens life on campus. It also finds elements of truth in the experiences of learning to live with a roommate, making new friends, social dynamics in fraternities and the friction of learning to live with one another. The movie ends on the important note that a college education is not for everybody. 

“Monsters University” is available to stream on Disney+.

‘School Daze’ (1988)

The second Spike Lee joint and the one just before his masterpiece “Do the Right Thing,” “School Daze” is a chronicle of life at a historically Black college campus in Atlanta. It is unapologetically Black. Everyone who appears on screen is black and they talk about concerns of black people. The movie touches on colorism, hair texture bias, identity politics, politics in a post civil rights era and class stratification. It manages to touch on these heavy topics while being incredibly joyful and fun. A quasi-musical, “School Daze” bursts at the seams with energy and joy. It is a sharp and uncompressed look at college from one of our greatest living filmmakers. 

“School Daze” is available to stream on Hulu.

‘Shithouse’ (2020)

If I had seen Cooper Raiff’s debut film “Shithouse” before going to college, I would have dropped out. In “Shithouse” college looks like it blows. With a simple, sparse manner, similar to Richard Linklater, “Shithouse” is able to capture the pain and loneliness of being away from home for the first time in painful detail. It’s too real. The movie could have very easily been nauseatingly mopey, but overcomes that through vulnerability and an oddball charm. 

“Shithouse” is available to rent on Amazon Prime with the IFC Channel.


[email protected]