As a wise man once said, “there’s a time and place for everything… it’s called college.” Nothing exemplifies this point more than National Lampoon’s Animal House, a 1978 film that follows the mischievous antics of the scofflaw-riddled Delta Tau Chi fraternity in cartoonish fashion. After a series of events lands the fraternity on “double-secret probation,” the ragtag crew of misfits must get their act together or risk losing their charter. The timeless classic showcases stupendous performances from the likes of John Vernon and John Belushi, along with Donald Sutherland, Tim Matheson, and others. From the derelict toga party to Belushi’s cafeteria antics, the iconic scenes just keep coming. Will Delta house make things right with the Dean, or will it set its sights on its rivals and go out in a flaming ball of glory?
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The Coen Brothers’ sepia-toned adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey is a delightful romp through Depression-era Mississippi, one that follows three bumbling convicts — Ulysses Everett McGill (George Clooney), Pete Hogwallop (John Turturro), and Delmar O’Donnell (Tim Blake Nelson) — who escape their chain gang and set off in search of Everett’s buried treasure. Their journey takes them across a surreal vision of the South, as they encounter several characters and events inspired by episodes in the aforementioned epic. In addition to the dusty color palette, the film makes extensive use of period-appropriate music, including blues, gospel, and bluegrass tunes. It’s safe to say that T Bone Burnett’s production has never been so on point.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Any self-respecting movie buff has seen this movie more times than they can count, but we just couldn’t leave it off the list. The plot follows protagonist Ferris Bueller, who convinces his entire school that death is knocking at his door so he can skip school, then hits the streets of Chicago with his girlfriend and best friend for a day of complete and utter debauchery. It’s a warmhearted comedy about innocence and growing up, chock-full of Chicago landmarks and unforgettable scenes. Oh, yeaaaaah.
There’s no finer take on high school cliques than Tina Fey’s Mean Girls. The cult classic stars Lindsey Lohan as Cady Heron, a 16-year-old girl who is forced to attend public school once her family returns from a decade-long research trip in Africa. Lohan joins the school’s most exclusive outfit, but soon finds herself grappling with psychological status warfare when she falls in love with Aaron Samuels (Jonathan Bennett). It showcase girl-on-girl cattiness at its best (and funniest).
Caddyshack is a film for the books. The legendary comedy sees greats such as Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, and Bill Murray headline an all-star cast that spends much of their time romping around Bushwood Country Club, a suburban golf paradise littered with crazy characters. The ensemble film focuses on a host of unforgettable characters, including greenskeeper Carl Spackler (Murray) and Al Czervik (Dangerfield), a loud-mouthed man whose wealth and mere presence irks the club’s more affluent members. Murray, of course, spends the bulk of his time trying to rid the course of a gopher infestation, while a young Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe) caddies for Ty Webb (Chase) in an effort to earn money for his college tuition. Harold Ramis (Groundhog Day, National Lampoon’s Holiday) directs, lending the film plenty of crude humor and more quotable dialogue than anything in his catalog.
Burn After Reading
Another day, another wacky comedy from the Coen brothers that quickly spirals way out of control. In this black comedy, a former CIA analyst (John Malkovich) loses a CD-ROM that contains meaningless ramblings on various government activities, many of which are intended for his soon-to-be memoir. When two certifiable dimwits (Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt) find the disc and think they’ve stumbled upon a treasure trove of valuable secrets, hilarity ensues. George Clooney and Tilda Swinton provide excellent supporting performances as well, but it’s the film’s neurotic score and the tight scripting that truly makes it an anti-spy thriller worthy of the Coen name.
Few directors, writers, or producers showcase a visual or narrative style as distinct as Wes Anderson’s. The whimsical Moonrise Kingdom is one of his best to date. It tells the story of a young scout (Jared Gilman) and a bookish girl (Kara Hayward) who decide to run away together in an effort to temporarily escape their lives — and more so, the parental figures surrounding them. A beautiful, subdued palette makes this oddity of a film a joy to watch, while a tremendous supporting cast — which includes Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis, and others — helps capture an eccentric summer filled with affairs and beachside portraits.
This raucous animated comedy is not for the faint of heart, or the young of age. A star-studded cast — including Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, and more — brings the grocery store to life, in an extremely adult manner. Foods and grocery items dream of being placed in a shopping cart and transported into the “great beyond” — that is, until they realize what human beings are actually doing after leaving the store. Don’t accidentally show this movie to your kids. Just… don’t.
Michael Cera and Jonah Hill made a name for themselves in this hilarious 2007 teen comedy, directed by (who else?) Judd Apatow. Seth (Hill) and Evan (Cera) are high school seniors looking to end their pre-college days with a bang. The film somehow combines ridiculous circumstances with relatable humor, as the two attempt to navigate their way to an end-of-year party with mountains of booze and attractive women. Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Kick-Ass) steals the show as geeky friend McLovin, who spends much of his night with two deadbeat cops.