It’s that time of year again, when college kids across the country make the least of their education by traveling to sunny climes in order to cut loose instead of cutting classes. Spring Break is much a campus tradition as finals and cheerleaders, leaving parents everywhere to wonder exactly what their hard-earned tuition dollars are paying for. With that in mind, here’s a list of academic-oriented shows and movies for college students to watch while on their break. Hopefully these will remind them of what they’re missing back on campus.
As anyone who has ever spent time on a college campus can attest, the guys and gals in the fraternity/sorority system always seem to be having the most fun. Sure they have to study like everyone else, but every weekend plays like spring break on Frat Row. However, as this series starring Scott Michael Foster and Spencer Grammer makes clear, even frat brothers and sorority sisters have problems too. (It’s just that they find more entertaining ways to pass the time in between them.)
“Before Sunrise” (1995)
In some ways, this flick is the very opposite of all things Spring Break. As in, a student traveling in Europe on her break (Julie Delpy) meets an American (Ethan Hawke) and…..nothing happens. No partying. No hanky panky. No leaping Jell-O shots. Instead, Delpy and Hawke meet on a train, get off to spend the whole night walking and talking in Vienna and then go their separate ways. And while it may not be as exciting as a week on a beach, “Before Sunrise” is one of the smartest and most engaging films of the past several years.
“April Fool’s Day” (1986)
This (not intentionally) humorous horror film stars Griffin O’Neal and Deborah Foreman as two members of a group of college kids who are pursued by an unseen killer while taking their break at a mysterious island mansion. The downside? They end up dead. The upside? At least they don’t have to study for that nightmare final in Chemistry.
“The Freshman” (1990)
Matthew Broderick made taking a break from high school seem like harmless fun in “Ferris Beuller’s Day Off,” but when he ended up in film school in this funny film a few years later, he could have used a break. Broderick plays a guy who shows up for college only to have all his belongings stolen. That leads him to an encounter a suspiciously familiar looking “importer” played by Marlon Brando. The result? A very quirky comedy in which a Komodo Dragon ends up outshining acting vets like Broderick and Brando. Sadly, there was no Best Performance By A Lizard Oscar available for him to win (although ironically, a couple of years earlier, a character named Gordon Gekko did pretty well come Academy Award time).
College campuses are filled with many frightening people. And no, not just guidance counselors and that one older woman who constantly asks questions in your political science classes even after the bell has rung. Apparently, there are also secret societies that commit all kinds of murders and mayhem. At least that’s the impression you get from watching these two sequels to the 2000 film “The Skulls.” This certainly does put worrying about your GPA into perspective.
“Real Genius” (1985)
No matter how many times you watch this inventive cult classic, it holds up. Val Kilmer stars as a brilliant physicist who has two traits you don’t normally want in a brilliant physicist: laziness and a twisted sense of humor. In between pranks that have nothing to do with his job, he develops a revolutionary laser that he discovers to be used as a deadly weapon. As serious as that sounds, the finale that involves both a vision of Jesus and more popcorn than 100 cineplex snack bars put together is really genius.
Before J.J. Abrams found himself “Lost,” he co-created this drame-dy about a California girl who travels to New York to attend college. The concept here was decidedly low, but Keri Russell became a star thanks to her work as the title character. And while few college students could ever have hair as nice as hers, nearly everyone who’s ever spent time in a dorm room can relate to all that Felicity goes through.