Summer is on, but it’s time to think about school again.
Gone are the days of vacations, visiting family and staying at home. Soon your life will be filled with syllabi, assignments and studies. But how will you return?
Everyone makes up their mind differently. Some find music helpful. Others like to listen to a podcast or go for a run. For me, it’s movies – they’re like a reset button. No matter how often I find myself overwhelmed or worried, a good movie can always bring me back.
I thought I’d share five movies to help get you in the mood for school. These are movies that I believe you can watch again and again throughout the semester to keep you motivated throughout the year.
- Dead Poets Society (1989)
When Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke) begins his junior year at the all-male Welton Academy in Vermont, he is assigned the brilliant Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard) as his roommate. As they and their friends arrive at their classrooms on their first day, they are greeted by John Keating (Robin Williams), the unconventional new English teacher who instills a spirit of wonder and hope in their young minds. A spirit of rebellion and awakening soon follows, and the elite youth must confront their ideals in the face of their parents’ wishes.
Moving and thoughtful, “Dead Poets Society” is as much a story of wonder as a coming-of-age tale. It’s a reminder that we can be our own people—that we don’t need to stand in the shadow of our parents’ dreams for us. It’s a movie for anyone who’s ever dreamed of living an extraordinary life or who’s ever wanted more than the status quo.
And to those dreamers I proudly say: “O captain, my captain!”
- Animal House (1978)
When Larry Kroger (Thomas Hulce) and Kent Dorfman (Stephen Furst) fail to get into the Omega Theta Pi house, they settle for the infamous Delta Tau Chi house, where they meet rowdy John “Bluto” Blutarsky (John Belushi. ). But after numerous academic and campus violations, the school’s Dean, Vernon Wood (John Vernon), gives Delta and instructs Omega President Gregg Marmalard (James Daughton) to find a way to revoke the charter. home.
“Animal House” is often heralded as one of the greatest films of all time. But college isn’t all about parties and fights. “Animal House” tells a story of brotherhood — of coming together against impossible odds and finding a way to make it work, even if it requires a little chaos along the way.
- Spirited Away (2001)
Being a kid isn’t easy – just ask Chihiro. Directed by Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli fame, Spirited Away follows a young girl whose parents are turned into pigs after stumbling upon an abandoned amusement park. Dazed, she goes to a nearby, seemingly functional bathroom for help, only to be transported to the spirit world. There she meets a host of strange and powerful spirits as she tries to save her parents and discover who she is.
A beautiful tale of youth and perseverance, “Spirited Away” will thrill you with its visuals and story. Studio Ghibli, the animators of this and a number of other wonderful films, are famous for their setting, storytelling and worlds that stick with you. Pixar lovers will find much to appreciate in this intricately crafted masterpiece.
Students looking for something to unwind after a particularly hard day need look no further. While you may not be able to relate to the youth of the film’s protagonist, her determination to fit in and persevere is a familiar desire to students new and old.
- Monsters University (2013)
Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) dreams of being a Scarer. In Pixar’s prequel to “Monsters Inc.” Mike is a first year at the famous Monsters University, where he meets Sully (John Goodman) in a scary classroom. Brain on Sulli’s natural brain, the two develop a rivalry that culminates in their expulsion. But intuitive Mike makes a deal with the dean to get the two, along with a crew of other misfits, back at the school. If they can win the Scare Games, then they can come back. If they lose, they are gone forever.
Although inspired by “Animal House”, “Monsters University” tells the story of dreams. Many people come to college hoping for one thing and become something else entirely—just ask engineering or chemistry alumni. But for every person who gives up or redirects, there are those who move forward – who, despite everything, refuse to lose.
There are times during these four years where you may wonder if it was all worth it. Let this movie serve as a reminder that it is and that, even if you have to change course, you can still achieve your dreams.
- Legally Blonde (2001)
Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is on top of the world. She has her money, her son and her future laid out before her. That is, until her boyfriend ditches her to go to Harvard Law School. But Elle refuses to be disappointed and, after months of studying, aces her LSAT and arrives at Harvard bright-eyed and full of dreams. But the brooding and often boisterous attitude of her peers contrasts with the SoCal glow of Elle’s personality. She learns very quickly that no one will take her seriously until she proves that she is more than just a pretty blonde.
This is a film for anyone who has ever felt out of place in their chosen field – a film whose protagonist is a symbol of transcendence. It’s a reminder to each of us that no matter what society thinks of you, the only thing that can stop you is you.