Melissa McCarthy goes back to school in your Sunday night movie, Life of the Party. As divorcee Deanna, she packs her bags and struts across campus at the very same college her daughter, Molly, is attending. Of course, Molly is less than pleased.
In the spirit of all things post-high school, we’re taking a look at some of our favourite varsity-set movies.
The Graduate (1967)
We start old school (forgive the pun) and post-school, as this ‘60s classic actually takes place after graduation. Clasping his degree and wondering what’s next Benjamin Braddock, played by a young Dustin Hoffman, soon finds that college has not answered that question or taught him anything about life’s more complicated lessons.
Van Wilder (2002)
A post-American Pie, pre-Sharknado Tara Reid plays a buttoned-up journalism student doing an expose on her polar opposite, the life of the party. That would be the Van Wilder of the title, a post-Two Guys and Girl, pre-Deadpool Ryan Reynolds. The humour hits at, below, and beyond the belt, but it’s worth it for early glimpses of Reynolds’s star quality and comic genius. With a supporting cast that includes a pre-Harold & Kumar Kal Penn, a pre-The Big Bang Theory Simon Helberg, and a pre-Breaking Bad Aaron Paul, it’s also an early peek into many a successful Hollywood tale.
Old School (2003) and Bad Neighbours (2014)
We’ve placed these movies together, because they work well as companion pieces. For one thing, they both feature Frat Packers: Hollywood comedy actors who together make slacker-celebrating party-style movie after slacker-celebrating party-style movie. The stories are also flip sides of the same coin. In Old School 30-something Luke Wilson and friends try to relive their partying college days, much to the chagrin of the neighbouring college dean. In Bad Neighbours, a 30-something married couple played by Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are the ones much chagrined, as their frat-boy neighbours make endless partying the sole purpose of their education.
Monsters University (2012)
None of the above are for the eyes of young innocents, as yet untainted by the wild years of partying that lie ahead. Luckily, there’s Monsters University to give them a wholesome taste of varsity life. Serving as a prequel to 2001’s Monsters, Inc., the movie reconnects us with Mike and Sulley, as we learn how they first became friends.
Pitch Perfect (2012)
We end on a high note (there we go with those puns again). The title also pretty much describes this upbeat, a Capella-infused comedy. Anna Kendrick shines as a reluctant Barden Bella, with Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy providing many laughs. The classic college moments hit all the varsity-movie beats, with the characters and their growing friendship adding the kind of heart and warmth that this subgenre often lacks.