5 movies to get you back to school

By Jacob Mraz, Staff Writer

Summer blazes on, but it’s time to think about school again. 

Gone are the days of vacationing, visiting family and hanging out around the house. Soon your life will be filled with syllabi, assignments and studying. But how do you come back? 

Everyone aligns their mind differently. Some find music helpful. Others like to listen to a podcast or go for a jog. For me, it’s movies — they are like a reset button. No matter how often I find myself overwhelmed or anxious, a good movie can always bring me back.

I thought I would share five movies to help you get in the mood for school. These are movies I believe you can watch again and again over the semester to keep you motivated all year. 

  1. Dead Poets Society (1989)

When Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke) begins his junior year at the all-male Welton Academy in Vermont, he is assigned the brilliant Neil Perry as his roommate (Robert Sean Leonard). As they and their friends arrive to classes on the first day they are greeted by John Keating (Robin Williams), the unconventional new English teacher who invokes a spirit of wonder and hope into their young minds. A spirit of rebellion and awakening quickly follows, and the elite youngsters must come to grips with their own ideals in the face of their parents’ wishes. 

Moving and thoughtful, “Dead Poets Society” is as much a story of wonder as a tale of growing up. It’s a reminder that we can be our own people — that we don’t need to stand in the shadow of our parents’ dreams for us. It is a movie for anyone who has ever dreamed of living an extraordinary life or has ever wanted more than the status quo. 

And to those dreamers I proudly say, “O captain, my captain!” 

  1. Animal House (1978)

When Larry Kroger (Thomas Hulce) and Kent Dorfman (Stephen Furst) fail to get into the high-brow Omega Theta Pi house, they settle for the notorious Delta Tau Chi house, where they meet the rowdy John “Bluto” Blutarsky (John Belushi). But after numerous academic and campus violations, the school Dean, Vernon Wood (John Vernon), has it out for Delta and instructs Omega’s president, Gregg Marmalard (James Daughton), to find a way to have the house’s charter revoked. 

“Animal House” is often heralded as one of the greatest frat movies of all time. But college isn’t all about partying and fighting. “Animal House” tells a story of brotherhood — of coming together against impossible odds and finding a way to make it work, even if it takes a little mayhem along the way. 

  1. Spirited Away (2001)

Being a kid isn’t easy — just ask Chihiro. Directed by the acclaimed Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli, “Spirited Away” follows a young girl whose parents are turned into pigs after stumbling on an abandoned amusement park. Dazed, she walks to a nearby, seemingly operational bathhouse for help, only to be transported to the spirit world. There she meets a host of whimsical and powerful spirits as she attempts to rescue her parents and discover who she is.

A beautiful tale of youth and perseverance, “Spirited Away” will move you with its visuals and its story. Studio Ghibli, the animators of this and a host of other wonderful films, are famous for their environment, storytelling and worlds that stick with you. Lovers of Pixar will find much to appreciate in this intricately crafted masterpiece. 

Students looking for something to put on to unwind after a particularly rough day need look no further. While you may not relate to the youth of the film’s protagonist, her determination to adapt and persevere is a familiar desire to new and old students alike. 

  1. Monsters University (2013)

Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) dreams of being a Scarer. In Pixar’s prequel to “Monsters Inc.” Mike is a first-year at the famed Monsters University where he meets Sully (John Goodman) in a scaring class. The brain to Sully’s natural brawn, the two develop a rivalry that culminates in their expulsion. But the intuitive Mike makes a deal with the dean to get the two, along with a crew of other misfits, back into the school. If they can win the “Scare Games” then they can come back. If they lose, they leave forever.

Though inspired by “Animal House,” “Monsters University” tells the story of dreams. Many people come to college hoping for one thing and become something else entirely — just ask former engineering or chem students. But for every person who gives up or redirects, there are also those who push through — who, despite everything, refuse to lose.

There are times over these four years where you may ask yourself if it’s all worth it. Let this film act as a reminder that it is and that, even if you have to change course, you can still achieve your dreams.

  1. Legally Blonde (2001)

Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is on top of the world. She has the money, the boy and her future laid out before her. That is, until her boyfriend dumps her to go to Harvard Law School. But Elle refuses to be put down and, after months of studying, aces her LSAT and arrives at Harvard bright-eyed and full of dreams. But the drab and often waspy attitude of her peers clash with the SoCal glow of Elle’s personality. She learns soon enough that no one will take her seriously until she proves that she is more than just a pretty blonde. 

This is a movie for anyone who has ever felt out of place in their chosen major — a film whose protagonist is a symbol of overcoming. It’s a reminder to each of us that, no matter what society thinks about you, the only one who can stop you is you.