Relatable Hollywood: Great Graduation Movies

If you were to base all of your ideas of recent college or high school graduates on movies and T.V., it would appear that they are almost uniformly sullen malcontents whose restlessness inevitably leads them on wacky misadventures. The pervasiveness of this cultural figure had developed into it’s own archetype of “the graduate.” While these movies make me even more anxious about my looming graduation, here are some great movies all about that confusing and anxiety inducing time, the summer after graduation.

The Wackness – Starring Josh Peck of Drake & Josh fame, The Wackness follows sort-of loner Luke Shapiro (Peck), the summer after his 1994 high school graduation in New York City. When Luke’s parents are threatened with eviction, he starts selling weed out of an old ice-cream cart in an attempt to help his family. The movie also focuses on his relationship with his psychiatrist, Dr Squires (Ben Kingsley). Over the course of the movie Luke becomes infatuated with Dr. Squires’ estranged stepdaughter, Stephanie. While nothing much ostensibly happens in the movie, it’s an excellent coming-of-age film. The movie also has a great soundtrack, featuring mid 90s hip-hop like Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, The Notorious B.I.G. and Nas.

Adventureland – Set in 1987, Brennen (Jesse Eisenberg) is forced to move home with his parents after college graduation once his father gets laid off and is no longer able to support him financially. Brennan gets a job working at the local amusement park, Adventureland, in an attempt to save up enough money for graduate school. Watching this movie reminds me of some of the crappy jobs I’ve had and the interesting people I’ve met along the way. Brennan is the quintessential “graduate” archetype, disaffected, floundering, and in love with a quirky but troubled girl, Emily (Kristen Stewart). Say what you will about Stewart’s deadpan acting in the Twilight movies, she does a good job in this role. This quiet movie is funny and relatable.

Ghost World Ghost World, a movie based on the Daniel Clowes graphic novel of the same name, follows Enid and her best friend Rebecca the summer after their high school graduation. The friends plan to move in together at the end of the summer but first Enid is forced to take a summer art class due to a failing grade and Rebecca gets a job at a coffee shop to support herself. Enid also befriends a lonely record collector named Seymour. Enid and Seymour’s blossoming relationship puts a strain on Enid’s long-time friendship with Rebecca. This movie is excellently acted by Thora Birch and Scarlett Johanssen. Steve Buscemi also does an excellent job as Seymour.

Tiny Furniture – Written by, directed by, and starring then-24 year old Lena Dunham, Tiny Furniture is the story of 22 year-old Aura, who returns to her mother’s home in New York City after graduating college in Ohio. Unsure what to do with herself; Aura gets a job as a hostess at a restaurant while she tries to figure out what to do next. Dunham, who also created, directs, and stars in the HBO series Girls, is excellent at taking an unflinching look at privilege, dysfunctional relationships, and self-destruction. This is an excellent movie that I would recommend to everyone.

Also be sure to check out… The Graduate (1967), Y tu mamá tambien (2001), Voy a explotar (2008), Grind (2003)

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Brianna Low

Brianna Low

Brianna Low is a rising senior at DePaul University pursuing a double major in English and Spanish. Brianna enjoys reading, writing, and traveling. She currently works for DePaul's Art Department as a receptionist and hopes to one day work in a library. Brianna is happiest when surrounded by books.
Brianna Low

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