With the onset of finals and the anticipation of winter break, you are most likely feeling pretty overwhelmed right now. And what better way to relax and unwind amid this crazy season than to engage in some traditional movie-watching? Watching movies is a great way to destress and take a much-needed break from the craziness of finals. That is why I have put together this list of five movies that you must watch as a college student. These renowned movies each have their own very important lessons for your demographic. These lessons are sure to benefit you both in your personal and academic life. Put your pencils away, set down your textbook and grab some popcorn. It’s movie time!
1. “The Breakfast Club”
Ahh.. the ‘80s. Bright colors, Michael Jackson and big hair were all the rage. Surely, you are familiar with this iconic time period. ‘80s trends and themes have creeped their way into contemporary society, appearing in our favorite movies and television shows. Just look at “Stranger Things,” for example. This nostalgic, ‘80s-based television show has stolen the hearts of viewers across the country, establishing itself as one of the most renowned Netflix shows ever created. The film I am going to discuss, however, was not just influenced by the ‘80s — it was made in the ‘80s. This film is “The Breakfast Club,” one of John Hughes’ most iconic films.
“The Breakfast Club” follows a group of five distinctly different teenagers who find themselves trapped in detention on a Saturday afternoon. These teenagers, although each representing a different high school stereotype, end up bonding in a way that they would never expect. There is a reason why this movie is still popular today. This movie not only contains relatable content that resonates with many young adults, but it also offers an important life lesson on the destructiveness of stereotypes.
The five characters in this film represent the stereotypes of the nerd, the beauty queen, the jock, the rebel without a cause and the outcast. They are completely dominated by these stereotypes, which seem to control every aspect of their persona — from their personality and actions to the clothing they wear. Eventually, however, these characters realize that all these stereotypes do is separate them from each other and from their true selves. This film prompts us to consider the validity of these stereotypes. We are encouraged to break down societal labels and allow our true individuality to shine. This legendary film urges us to not let stereotypes or society’s perception of us dictate our status in life and our relationships with others.
2. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
Next on my list is “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky, based on the novel of the same name. I love this movie because it sheds light on the tough subject of mental illness and depression. This subject is very prevalent in today’s society; however, it is not talked about enough. The main protagonist in the film, Charlie, suffers from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being abused by his favorite aunt as a child. Although Charlie’s mental state improves when he meets his best friends Sam and Patrick, his mental illness still has a tremendously negative impact on his life.
An important lesson that movies like this have to offer is that sometimes it is okay not to be okay. As Charlie states in the movie, “I am both happy and sad at the same time, and I am trying to figure out how that could be.” This movie reminds us that sometimes, we struggle in life. We may not all share the same struggles, but we will all face adversity at one point or another. It is inevitable. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” reassures us that there is nothing wrong with facing hardships from time to time. We all have things we could work on, and recognizing this is imperative to finding your happiness. Once you are able to acknowledge your struggles, you can start to make positive change.
3. “Mean Girls”
Of course, I have saved my favorite film for last: “Mean Girls.” I have lost track of how many times I have seen this movie (that’s how much I love it). This iconic high school film was created in the early 2000s. It was famously written by Tina Fey and stars Lindsey Lohan as the memorable protagonist, Cady Heron. Many are quick to write off this film as a “mindless” chick-flick with nothing of value to contribute to cinema. Although everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinion, I would have to strongly disagree. “Mean Girls” is definitely not a movie that everyone would like; however, you cannot argue that it is not filled with important life lessons that will remain true and relevant until the end of time.
The first lesson that this film has to offer is the imperativeness of self-empowerment. As stated by Fey’s character in the film, Ms. Norbury, “You all have got to stop calling yourselves sluts and whores.” This film stresses the dangers of self-deprecation and the negative effects that it can have on one’s motivation and self-esteem. It reminds us that we must be kind to ourselves. Always. No matter what. You should never put yourself down or call yourself disparaging names under any circumstance.
Self-criticism can certainly be healthy in small amounts, but too much of it can be extremely damaging, as is portrayed in the film. Instead of tearing yourself down after making a mistake, acknowledge that messing up from time to time is completely normal and everyone does it. This film teaches us to learn from our errors and urges us to make an active effort to improve so that we can avoid making the same mistakes again in the future. Beating yourself up is not going to do anything but ruin your self-esteem. Excessive self-depreciation is dangerous because it is hard to stop treating yourself badly once you start. That is why it is absolutely critical that you avoid developing such a habit in the first place.