Netflix and Chill: University Edition

Netflix and Chill: University Edition

Ten movies to get your head, liver and heart ready for the school year. 


Sometimes the start of school can be pretty overwhelming. So, it is important to give yourself some time to chill, watch Netflix and do a whole lot of nothing. Admittedly, you might have more than 100 pages of readings to do, a lab report to write, and a slide deck to make for a club, but I promise the solution to all of those problems is a good old movie night. It isn’t procrastination, it’s self-care! Aren’t health care professionals always saying balance is key in university!?


So, without further ado, here are ten movies that will simultaneously give you a break from the madness, but still get you hyped and mentally prepared for the oncoming school year! These movies are dramatic, funny, and packed with back to school inspiration. Not all, if any, of these movies are academy award winners or cinematic wonders, but they have valuable lessons, good punch lines, and relatable characters. 


Now, go order some pizza, pop some popcorn, text your friends and get ready for the ultimate movie night. In absolutely no particular order, here are my ten picks…


Dazed and Confused

Rotten Tomato Rating: 91%

The Rundown:

Dazed and Confused follows a group of teenagers as they celebrate their last day of high school. The movie follows the students as they haze the incoming freshmen, plan parties, and drive around town creating mayhem.  

Why is it on the list? 

There’s a reason why Dazed and Confused is known as a cult classic, and that reason is that there are few movies that have truly encapsulated what growing up feels like. This gem poignantly portrays what it feels like to be in an in-between stage of life where no one trusts you with full responsibility, but simultaneously expect you to start showing symptoms of adulthood. Although Dazed and Confused might be set in high school, its themes of substances, partying, friendship, and new responsibility are definitely applicable to university. 

 The movie features a lot of initiation rituals for the future freshmen who are going into high school that upcoming year. This reminded me a lot of Frosh week and all the “Art Sci, how do you feel?” and “no frosh allowed” parties that I experienced in my first year at Queen’s. 

Dazed and Confused is not action-packed or conflict-driven, but its vibrant, quirky, and relatable characters still keep you watching. It is easy to get hooked watching their series of random escapades that are sewn together to portray one hectic night. If you are in the mood for some teen angst rebellion and want to watch life unfold, definitely rent Dazed and Confused tonight. 


Reality Bites

Rotten Tomato Rating: 66% (don’t be fooled, it’s worth the watch!)

The Rundown:
Reality Bites follows four friends as they navigate life after graduating from university. The main character is Lelaina, who is working on a documentary about her friends and how their hardships and lack of role models have impacted their life trajectories.

Why is it on the list?
Reality Bites tackles the one question no Queen’s student wants to hear: “What are you going to do after university?” Within Reality Bites, we see that there are many ways to answer that question and the various degrees of ambition that people have. Lelaina, the main character, has lofty ambitions and a specific path imagined for herself. When things don’t go her way after graduation, she has to reevaluate, causing self-doubt and confusion. Reality Bites highlights how hard it can be to be authentic when there are so many societal pressures. These expectations force young adults to feel prematurely rushed toward a set idea of adulthood and its various societal deadlines for each phase of life.

The film also portrays the generational gaps that often occur between parents and their children as their varying different life experiences creates disparate morals and beliefs. Overall, this movie captivatingly exposes the troublesome twenties and the journey to finding out who we are. The movie is perfect for fourth years and really anyone who is struggling with one’s identity.


Good Will Hunting

Rotten Tomato Rating: 97%

The Rundown:
Goodwill Hunting is about Will Hunting, a disenfranchised, law-breaking, genius who cleans floors at MIT. After assaulting a police officer, Hunting is taken under the wing of an MIT professor who realizes his incredible intelligence. Hunting is forced to abide by a deal in order to complete his probation and begins to realize an alternative type of life he could have if he fulfilled his f

ull potential.

Why is it on the list?
Goodwill Hunting is the perfect inspiring story for your back to school movie binge. The movie’s script is incredible and has countless quotable scenes that each hold a valuable life lesson. The characters in the movie are all broken in their own way but also strong, resilient and beautiful. They prove to viewers that you don’t have to be perfect to live an amazing life. There is also a wonderful underlying commentary on mental health and the necessity/value of therapy for everyone. It is a good reminder that everyone has their own issues and that it is important to vocalize and work through them, instead of bottling them up and letting them eat you inside out. I think this lesson is particularly vital for back to school because everyone knows undergrad can be a stressful, anxiety-ridden time. Goodwill Hunting reminds us that asking for help and working through our problems with others is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Finally, despite being a genius, Will Hunting is not in university due to his socio-economic position. At Queen’s, it is easy to consider education your right, but really it is a privilege that each of us is blessed to have. As we start classes, we may want to keep this privilege in mind and take full advantage of the education many others less fortunate would kill to have.


American Pie 2

Rotten Tomato Rating: 52%

The Rundown:
American Pie 2 is the sequel to the first American Pie movie that was set in high school. Now the American Pie group has recently finished their first year at college and are reuniting to have a memorable summer.

Why is it on the list?
Is it just me, or do summers back in your home city/town feel like they belong in a completely different realm than Queen’s? American Pie 2 perfectly shows the weird duality of going back and forth between your college and home lives. When you go back to one, nothing has changed, but everything has at the same time. The movie also explores the idea of not wanting things to change, as reflected by the struggle of one of the characters, Kevin.

Mostly though, American Pie 2 is just ridiculously hilarious. A lot of the movie goes over first sexual experiences in a comical and relatable manner. The movie teaches you the rule of three and even has some funny hook up tips as Jim, the main character, tries to navigate becoming a better lover. Watch this movie if you truly just want a good laugh.

500 Days of Summer

Rotten Tomato Rating: 85%

The Rundown:
500 Days of Summer is an atypical romantic comedy about Tom, a hopeless romantic and Summer, a realist who believes love belongs in fairy tales. The narrative jumps around between various days of Tom and Summer’s relationship showing the ups and downs of their 500 days.

Why is it on the list?
500 Days of Summer is on the list because it is the perfect movie about first love, and university has a whole lot of that. Unfortunately for most of us, our first loves are not our last loves, and so we need Tom and Summer’s story to teach us how to deal with heartbreak. One thing I loved about the movie is how it portrayed how quickly love can turn into hate. There is such a fine line between those two emotions and sometimes when our heart hurts and we don’t know how to cope, it is easy to turn to hate as an out. I also love how 500 Days of Summer shows how hard it is to let love go, but how necessary it is sometimes.

For all you girls that want a romantic comedy to pair with your rosé or barefoot Moscato, this is the perfect pick.

For all you guys that claim they “don’t like romantic comedies,” don’t worry, as the narrator warns at the beginning of the movie, “This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, this is not a love story.”



Rotten Tomato Rating: 87%

The Rundown:
Superbad follows two best friends, Seth and Evan, as they try to break out of their “nerd status” on the last days of high school by getting alcohol for a party.

Why is it on the list?
Yes, I know, Superbad is set in high school. Still, Superbad is perfect for your movie binge because of its applicable themes and its unparalleled. Seth and Evan have the same fear of many of us entering university and in university have. The fear of not staying in touch with our beloved friends from home. As we watch Seth and Evan navigate this fear, we are reminded that some friendship bonds are too strong to break. No matter how far they are, best friends remain your support system through it all.

Superbad is also a good reminder that university can provide a wonderful platform for reinventing one’s self. No one cares who you were in high school. Queen’s is a fresh slate where you can curate your identity to be whatever you please. Most of all, Superbad is on this list because I’ve watched it ten times and I still laugh every time. Watch this movie with a huge group of friends and a Costco-sized bag of sour patch kids, I know I don’t have to tell you twice.



Rotten Tomato Rating: 37% (audience score gave it 72% though)

The Rundown:
Accepted is about a group of teenagers who get rejected by their top universities and so decide to create their own university.

Why is it on the list?
This movie makes it onto the list because I love Jonah Hill, and because its concept is hilarious. Although the movie is mostly just a college-themed comedy, there are a few good lessons offered. Most of the movie is centred around the idea of rejection as all the characters have been rejected from the universities they applied to. The movie suggests that not all rejection is bad and that sometimes it can force you to be innovative and create an even better path for yourself. This is a vital thing to remember during undergrad because let’s face it, these are four years packed full of rejections of one form or another. Whether you’re getting rejected by a club, grad school, a girl or a guy, it is essential to pick yourself up after and make lemons into lemonade.


Into the Wild

Rotten Tomato Rating: 83%

The Rundown:
Into the Wild is about Christopher McCandless, a newly-graduated student, who decides to stray off his projected path and live in the wild to search for meaning and adventure.

Why is it on the list?
This movie makes the list as everyone has Christopher moments where they want to drop all responsibility and go live in the wild. Sometimes, especially in November, I feel the intense urge to buy a plane ticket, escape and never write another essay ever again. School and life, in general, are extremely stressful and packed full of expectations. Sometimes it is all too much.

Into the Wild really follows a journey of self-exploration and discovery. In a society where one’s life appears to be so planned out and predictable, movies like Into the Wild can inspire us to diverge from the norm. This doesn’t mean that we all need to go escape conventional society, but it could just mean putting your passions and desires before any parental/societal expectations. This could just mean that you prioritize being the most genuine version of yourself.


Old School

Rotten Tomato Rating: 60% (86% audience score)

The Rundown:
Old School is about three nostalgic adult friends who start their own off-campus frat house and evoke the fun and easy-going spirit of their college years. Despite having families, jobs and other responsibilities, the friend group crave responsibility-free fun and continue to plan parties and market their frat to the school.

Why is it on the list?
Old School makes the list because no matter what year you are in, we can all relate to Old School’s theme of nostalgia. We all know what it is like to reminisce about the good old days, and one day our sentimental affection will be directed towards our time at Queen’s. Not only does Old School show you how to throw an incredible party as the guys try to put their frat on the map, but it also invites us to really make the most of our time at Queen’s. One day we might be a twenty-something alumnus sitting on our couch on a Thursday wishing we were at Stage Rage.


The Great Debaters

Rotten Tomato Rating: 79%

The Rundown:
The Great Debaters is based on the true story of a professor who created a debate team at an African-American university. The movie follows the team’s great successes and the discrimination they faced throughout their time competing.

Why is it on the list?

The Great Debaters makes it on the list because it is an inspirational story of determination and the fight against discrimination. Sometimes you need a movie like this to put your problems in perspective. While watching this movie I really realized how privileged I am to have such easy access at Queen’s to so many incredible opportunities. Furthermore, I am blessed to be included and welcomed by my community and have faced little discrimination in my life. Also, Jurnee Smollett-Bell is a badass in this movie and is truly the poster girl for women’s’ empowerment. This movie is a perfect choice for people who need a little motivation. It is the perfect success story to get you pumped up about inciting transformative change on your own campus.


Honourable Mentions:

I had way too many movies to choose from so here are some honourable mentions organized by specific themes or moods! Some of these movies are not really college-themed, but they have life themes that are relatable to anyone in their early twenties. Watch and enjoy!

For those of you that want to laugh at a school-themed movie:

  • 22 Jump Street – Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum go to college to bust a drug supplier, what more could you want?
  • Pitch Perfect – For all of you that might want to join the Queen’s A Cappella Association!
  • Van Wilder
  • Animal House

For those of you that have long-distance relationships:

  • Going the Distance
  • Like Crazy

For those of you in fourth year:

  • Post Grad – A romantic comedy that explores life after college.
  • Adventureland

For those of you that are feeling out of place at Queen’s:

  • Perks of Being a Wallflower

For those of you having a quarter-life crisis:

  • Obvious Child
  • Before Sunrise – A movie about young love and self-discovery.
  • Frances Ha

For those of you that want to be inspired:

  • Beautiful Mind – A movie about a graduate student’s journey with severe mental illness.
  • Persepolis – An animated film about a girl growing up during the Iranian Revolution. The theme of self-discovery is incredible paired with the political commentary about Iran.

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