Pixar’s charming and sweet Monsters University hits theaters today, and while its primary subject matter is the scare-propelled world of monsters and magic doorways laid out in 2001’s Monsters Inc., it also falls easily into the long and distinguished tradition of college movies (including several direct shout-outs to Animal House). In acknowledgment of this tradition, and as a handy summer viewing guide for those of you entering (or returning to) the collegiate world come fall, Flavorwire presents a detailed syllabus of movies about college, a step-by-step and course-by-course rundown that enables you to have the college experience without actually going to college.
Required viewing: He Got Game Tips: When trying to get into a good college, it doesn’t hurt to have a killer jump shot; be wary of attendance advice offered up by convicted parents sprung from the big house for the weekend.
Required viewing: Orange County Tips: Always follow up on transcript and application submissions; if attempting to make a good impression at your dream school, consider leaving Jack Black at home.
Required viewing: National Lampoon’s Animal House Tips: Beware of campus organizations on “double secret probation”; choose your new friends very carefully; the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. (Oh, and side note: not every movie can be turned into a TV show.)
Required viewing: Damsels in Distress Tips: Always bring donuts; never underestimate the rejuvenating power of tap dancing; beware the crippling influence of “playboys” and “operators.” As Violet notes, “We’re also trying to make a difference in people’s lives, and one way to do that is to stop them from killing themselves.”
SOCIAL ENGINEERING 101
Required viewing: The Rules of Attraction Course topics: Fluidity of sex roles on the modern campus; alcohol as social lubricant; European travel for sexual predators; split screen as metaphor.
SOCIAL ENGINEERING 201
Required viewing: The Social Network Course topics: Final clubs and campus status; copyright law and the Internet; understanding your campus’ network capabilities; social networking for the anti-social; the ex-girlfriend as “Rosebud.”
Required viewing: PCU Course topics: Feminism in the music of George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic; The Caine-Hackman Theory; campus activism and “The Causeheads”; Sanskrit; wearing the shirt of the band you’re going to see and the choice to “be that guy.”
Required viewing: Revenge of the Nerds Course topics: Computer science; the fraternity system as social Darwinism; advanced public speaking; roots of electronic music; voyeurism in the modern sorority house.
Required viewing: Wonder Boys Course topics: Famous suicides; sexual fluidity in the publishing world; novelists and the sophomore slump; the perils of on-campus romance (particularly among professors); remedial dog disposal.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION 101
Required viewing: College Course topics: Baseball; track and field; rowing; athletics vs. academics; balancing work and school in the modern collegiate setting.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION 201
Required viewing: The Freshman Course topics: Football; social climbing and blissful ignorance; remedial suit stitching.
ADVANCED PHYSICAL EDUCATION
Required viewing: Rudy Course topics: Football; properly diagnosing dyslexia; history of Notre Dame; height-ism in college athletics; roots of the “Magical Negro”; jersey placement as social protest.
Required viewing: Drumline Course topics: Fictitious universities in American film; remedial music reading; teamwork as all-purpose narrative trope; Nick Cannon — where are they now?
ADVANCED MUSIC APPRECIATION
Required viewing: Pitch Perfect Course topics: A cappella arrangement; stage fright in the viral video age; the DJ as window dressing; “Fat” Amy — empowerment or exploitation?; cups — the instrument of the future.
Required viewing: Mona Lisa Smile Course topics: Shifting gender roles of the 1950s; modern art in its native era; what can we learn from women’s lib movies written and directed by men?
INTRO TO ANATOMY
Required viewing: Horse Feathers Course topics: Red and white corpuscles; the bloodstream; pin-ups in the classroom; athletic recruiting methods; the mystery of the “college widow”; comparative human and equine anatomy.
Required viewing: Legally Blonde Course topics: The importance of admission videos; internships and sexual politics; cross-examination and shampoo awareness; understanding endorphins and motive.
Required viewing: Real Genius Course topics: Chemical lasers; the limitations of conventional power sources; prankery within the modern American research process; the academically approved activities of laborers.
Required viewing: 21 Course topics: Blackjack; counting cards; non-linear equations; the “Monty Hall problem”; the woeful lack of dormitory security; the racial politics of changing most of the Asians in a true story to white people.
ADVANCED HUMAN SEXUALITY
Required viewing: Threesome Course topics: Fluidity of sex roles on the modern campus; the ménage a trois in American fiction; the narratively convenient incompetence of campus housing departments; Stephen Baldwin, libertine or killjoy?
POST-GRADUATE ENNUI 101
Required viewing: The Graduate Course topics: Just one word. Are you listening? Plastics.
POST-GRADUATE ENNUI 201
Required viewing: Kicking and Screaming Course topics: Nostalgia and immediacy; famous monkey movies; the difficulties of European travel; how bad American beer is; the dangers of nose rings; book clubs as course substitutes.
ADVANCED POST-GRADUATE ENNUI
Required viewing: Reality Bites Course topics: Early reality television; the social shame of Gap employment; considering the student loan officer and Columbia Record and Tape Company guy; Ethan Hawke’s goatee as American artifact; the aural aesthetics of “Hey, That’s My Bike”; is Melrose Place a really good show?
CONTINUING ADULT EDUCATION
Required viewing: Old School Course topics: Fictitious universities in American film; sexual empowerment via streaking; Fight Club parallels; “Blue” as Christ figure.
ADVANCED ADULT EDUCATION
Required viewing: Back to School Course topics: The works of Kurt Vonnegut; the slippery slope of strings-attached endowments; the inexplicable prominence of “Twist and Shout” in 1985 films; William Zabka — man or myth; the economics of widget manufacturing; the impossibility of the “Triple Lindy”.