We all know that movies aren’t always 100% accurate in how they portray life. As a college student, it’s especially fun to watch movies that are supposed to represent the college experience, and either laugh or cringe at what they picture. Here are five classic movies that are set during the ‘best four years of your life’ and just how realistic they are.

1. Legally Blonde

Teen Vogue

Probably the most well-known on the list, Legally Blonde was released nearly 20 years ago and still remains a favorite. Elle Woods’s plan to get into law school in order to win back her ex-boyfriend (and then her ultimate conclusion that she’s better off without him) makes this a cult classic. What you probably didn’t know is that it was based on a true story: a book written by Stanford Law grad Amanda Brown detailing her time there and how she chose to attend based on its proximity to the local shopping mall. Elle Woods’s over-the-top outfits and extravagant life in the sorority house is not something a lot girls can relate to, but nevertheless, makes it a fun watch. Also, the ease in which Elle seemed to get into law school (aka the bikini/pool video essay) is a frustrating fantasy for actual law school perspectives. Possibly my favorite little known fact about the movie, though, is that Reece Witherspoon, who plays Elle, got to keep all 60 outfits she wore on screen!!

2. 22 Jump Street

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Obviously the movie that was actually filmed on Tulane’s campus cannot be forgotten. 22 Jump Street is set at the fictional MC State University, but was actually filmed in Monroe, Herbert Hall, Howie T, on McAlister next to the LBC, on both Gibson and Newcomb quad, and even at Loyola. The movie is a sequel to 21 Jump Street, and transitions from Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill’s police officer characters going undercover in high school to their journey in college, in an attempt to bust a drug ring. 22 Jump Street is hilarious and I could watch the slam poetry scene (filmed in City Diner, RIP) and crack up every single time. Though the main characters aren’t technically college aged, there’s a relatable message in staying in touch with your close friends despite being a part of different organizations and friend groups on campus. There’s also the familiar awkwardness that can be parent’s weekend (no one wants to introduce themselves to their hook up buddy’s family), as well as the comical portrayal of huge lecture style classes. All in all, 22 Jump Street represents the college experience pretty justly, aside from the school-wide WHY-PHY drug bust.

3. Neighbors

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Neighbors, starring Zac Efron, Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne is another stereotypical college movie portrayal. There are the over-the-top frat party sequences and the subsequent fights with the next door neighbors over noise complaints. It isn’t super accurate in that it doesn’t actually show students going to any classes and instead focuses on Zac Efron’s frat house, and the mounting trouble they are getting in with the school. In reality, no college frat boys are getting in full-on wars with their adult neighbors. However, the movie does deal with fraternity hazing which is a very prevalent and real issue at schools across the country.

4. Spring-breakers

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This movie, without a doubt, has to be the most absurd example of college shown in today’s pop culture. The main characters seek an escape to their lives at school and their boredom leads them to a crazy, trainwreck of a spring break trip. They spend every scene in bathing suits and get involved with a sketchy, white, corn-rowed rapper played by James Franco. The college life aspect seems bleak, hence the reason for their chaotic trip. However, the girls themselves do not behave like typical college students or normal people at all. They seem to have little regard for themselves and each other, and the parents and relatives are only vaguely concerned for the girls’ safety. The movie deals with the deeper themes of peer pressure and substance abuse beneath the carefree exterior of an excessive, glamorized vacation from normal college life.  

5. Good Will Hunting

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This is the most serious out of the five movies. It tells the story of a 20 year old janitor at a college, played by Matt Damon, who is a secret genius. It takes a dedicated professor at the school, Robin Williams, to motivate him to succeed and see an academic future. Damon’s character deals with emotional trauma and forms a really close bond with the professor. Every college student can relate to forming a close relationship with at least one of their professors throughout their four years, so this relationship is touching. The focus on Matt Damon’s character, who is basically self-taught, shows a life that is not typical to college students because of his unusual circumstances. However, it remains a classic coming-of-age type movie that is definitely worth the watch.

I hope you enjoyed my rundown of these classic college-esque films! Let me know if you think I missed any 🙂

Cover Photo: Carolyn Ellis