|This. Is. My. Life.|
It’s been a good three months since most recent college graduates turned the tassel and accepted their frame-worthy diploma. While some have embraced the real world with snazzy jobs and rent payments, a decent chunk are still sending out resumes by the dozens while wearing sweatpants and wondering what the heck they’re doing with their lives. The post-grad life wasn’t supposed to look so confusing, right?
Not quite. If you’re still floating in a world of confusion and uncertainty, don’t fret. You’re not alone. And you even have a group of Hollywood counterparts to keep you company. Just enlist the help of this post-graduate film fest starring recent or soon-to-be-graduate characters who are asking the same questions.
If you’re nostalgic for the 90s: Reality Bites
Winona Ryder leads the cast of this quintessential Gen X film. Ryder is LeLaina, an aspiring documentary filmmaker who spends her time filming her friends’ lives. After meeting Michael, played by a young Ben Stiller (who also directs the film), she gets a chance for her work to make it big on an MTV-style network. But her romantic relationship with Michael is in competition with her friendship-turned-possibly-more relationship with Troy (Ethan Hawke). Yes, it’s a typical love triangle. Yes, it might be a little predictable. And yes, the fashions might provide enough of a laugh to cheer you up a little. But the film helps capture that angst-ridden mood when you’re annoyed that things aren’t going like you imagined.
If you’re looking for a tear-jerker: With Honors
Getting an honors distinction on his diploma is all uptight Harvard student Monty (Brendan Fraser) is after. But when Simon, a homeless man, (Joe Pesci) steals the key to his goal, Monty must bargain. The end result? Simon moving in with Monty and his roommates, including a young post-McSteamy Patrick Dempsey. What the group didn’t expect was developing a fondness for the colorful Simon while and learning about life in the process. Fair warning: the ending is tissue-use inducing.
If you still believe in fairy tales: The Prince and Me
Paige Morgan (Julia Stiles) has goals. What they don’t include is marrying the prince of Denmark. But when he hides as a normal student at her Wisconsin university, she falls for his charm, her dreams of being a doctor growing distant. Sure it’s a cheesy fairy tale. But it does present the modern struggle of finding a way to have it all: the dream job and the dreamy mate.
If you’ve always played by the rules: Post Grad
Things were falling into place for Ryden Malby. She worked hard, got a scholarship to a good school, and graduated with an interview for the job she’d been working toward her whole life. But Ryden (Alexis Bledel) learns that her perfect plan is about to take a detour when she doesn’t get the job. What follows is a mind-spinning job search and a potentially changing friendship with her best friend, an adorable Zach Gilford. You’ll relate to the constant string of interviews and the awkwardness of living at home once again. Funny moments are sprinkled throughout with her family, including the hilarious Jane Lynch—AKA Sue Sylvester—as Ryden’s mom and the legendary Carol Burnette as her grandmother.
If you’re in need of a pep talk: Legally BlondeWho can argue with the perky, semi-clueless Elle Woods? Reese Witherspoon’s portrayal of the California blonde turned serious Harvard law student is a character full of so much girl power you can’t help but smile. One of the overall messages of the film—you can do anything you put your mind to—may feel a little lost in this economy, but eventually, with enough creativity and persistence, it will ring true.
If you need a reason to be happy you don’t have a job: The Devil Wears Prada
The world of fashion magazines never looked so scary in this comedy. Miranda Priestly is the epitome of the worst boss in the world, and determined girl-next-door Andy Sachs is in the path of her wrath. After Andy (Anne Hathaway) runs around New York City attempting to find a manuscript for an unpublished Harry Potter book, you’ll realize that no job is probably better than that job.
If you love your pearl necklace: Mona Lisa Smile
In the early 1950s, Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts) believes the women of Wellesley are destined for better things than marriage and being housewives. But the proper students in her art history course beg to differ. As Katherine faces both student and university resistance throughout the academic year, her students—played by the wonderful ensemble of Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and the pre-Big Love Ginnifer Goodwin—begin to question what they really want post-graduation.
If you majored in film studies: The Graduate
Ben Braddock is lost in the post-graduate world. Unsure of where he’s going in life, Ben (played by an incredibly young Dustin Hoffman) return home from college to his parent’s California home. But things turn weird when he begins an affair with Mrs. Robinson (the legendary Anne Bancroft, the wife of his father’s business partner). Unsurprisingly, complications play out, including Ben’s budding obsession with the Robinsons’ daughter Elaine. The Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack helps frame the movie as a late 1960s classic, and remember to check out Ben’s father, played William Daniels (Mr. Feeny himself).
If you love a good book-to-movie attempt: The Nanny Diaries
Like The Graduate’s Ben Braddock, Annie Braddock (see a trend there?) is left confused about what to do with her life after graduation. But destiny gets in the way when she stumbles upon a job offer to nanny for Mrs. X, an extremely wealthy and kind of scary Manhattan mother. Scarlett Johansson’s hair goes brown for this adaptation of the bestselling book, which doesn’t always ring true to the page but captures the essence of the story. Plus, you’ll enjoy looking at Harvard Hottie, Mrs. X’s neighbor who captures Annie’s attention.
♥AUTHOR: SARAH EUTSLER