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Pop Off: Movies to face the future

By Brendon Field
On April 21, 2014

As with every spring semester, it's hard to believe that the end is drawing near. The weather is getting warmer, summer internships and vacations are being arranged and final exams are appearing in the back of people's minds. For graduating seniors, they've reached the bittersweet home stretch. Graduating college is an event experienced differently by every person. For some it's dread at leaving behind their best four years, for others with jobs and salaries lined up it couldn't come sooner, and for an increasing number it's the begging of graduate school as much as the end of undergraduate. While it's hard to pick one that fits everybody, here are several movies for the impending graduate.
"Kicking and Screaming" Not to be confused with the Will Ferrell comedy of the same name, this is a film for those suffering from the graduation blues. It follows four close friends in the final weeks before commencement as they scramble to figure their own personal future as well as each other's. How well will they maintain their friendship, should they terminate their relationships and just what their identity will be in the real world. While parts of it are certainly a downer, there is a lot of sweetness and sincerity beneath its dry humor.
"Adventureland": It's a fear we all have, getting out of college to find our degree is worthless and end up with the same job we had in high school. Jesse Eisenberg plays a recent graduate who majored in literature, and discovers few employers find him valuable. He ultimately gets hired at an amusement park to fund his grad school education. It's a romantic comedy that is a bit lacking on humor, but more than makes up for it with intelligence. It focuses on returning to a familiar but distant environment and the frustration of having to live beneath one's potential. It also features Kristen Stewart in by far her best performance.
"Accepted": For those who want to look back at their college career with a nostalgic smile, this movie takes the keg. It stars Justin Long and a young Jonah Hill as high school graduates who didn't get into any schools they applied to and don't want to tell their parents, so they decide to make a fake university using an abandoned mental institution. Apart from being a rowdy comedy with a handful of party scenes, it's very creative, makes great use its setting and in a way captures the happy go unlucky spirit of college itself... or not, whatever, it's very funny.
"The Graduate": Well this one is fairly obvious, and a classic to boot. Dustin Hoffman plays Benjamin Braddock, who is fresh out of college and caught between the past and future. He plans on making his first post-grad summer one of lax celebration, but faces increasing pressure from his parents to make a decision on his future. His first experience in the real world is an affair with the original cougar, Mrs. Robinson. Apart from being a deliciously twisted love story, it's a movie about insecurity and personal revolution that takes place over a very short period of time.
"The Tree of Life": I'm not completely sure why I'm putting Terrence Malick's gorgeous, mindboggling and polarizing art flick, which I didn't even like that much, on this list. But when I was creating it, "The Tree of Life" is one of the first movies I thought of, even though it deals with character far below and above the post-grad age. I think it's because this a movie that's meant to make the viewer reflect on their own lives and what led them to where they are now. Its themes of growing up, a confrontation of opposing philosophies and that grand question of why, all seem to be in our heads as we make any transition from one major stage in life to another. Maybe "The Tree of Life" is enigmatic answer to reveal an answer.
 


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