6 Movies to Watch (Or Re-Watch) Before You Head to IU

WARNING: This post includes spoilers.

I love watching movies. Before starting my first year at IU, I found that I had a lot of free time during the summer. I was able to watch movies, and of course, I based some of the things I watched in the movies towards how I imagined my first year would be. I eventually found that nothing is ever what you imagine it to be. Things could be better, things could be worse. It's all just different, but I still find great pleasure in watching movies because of the core messages they present. As I'm moving forward in my college career, I've been keeping a list of movies that I've referred to during my time at IU, and I'd like to share them with you. No surprise that my list has many "coming-of-age" films, and I promise that I tried to keep the Pixar films down to a minimum; 6 movies you should watch (or re-watch) before you head to IU:

1. Superbad, 2007

Let me begin by saying that this was probably one of my favorite movies in high school, and I've referenced this movie in a previous blog post. In high school, I think I missed the whole point of the movie because I concentrated too much on the funny gags and jokes.

The lessons from this film really began to hit a chord with me when I was re-watching the movie before starting college. The film follows two high school seniors a few weeks before graduation who decide to make the most of their time that they have left. The plot line follows the guidelines of American Pie, a teenage coming-of-age movie that many have tried to duplicate: a bunch of guys trying to get thegirl at the big end-of-the-year party.

Except what makes this movie stand out is that it focuses on the friendships more than the girls. Seth and Evan, childhood best friends, realize things won't be the same once they both head to different colleges. They offer to buy alcohol for the big end-of-the-year party, specifically hoping to impress the girls they've been eyeing since forever. Of course, things go awry as Fogel, their friend with the fake ID, gets punched by a robber, and the rest of the night involves them getting into hilarious trouble. 

What I got from it: Throughout the movie, the inseparable Seth and Evan get into petty arguments which ultimately leads to a heated exchange over Evan applying to Dartmouth when he knew that Seth couldn't get in. You then realize that the plot deals with their fear of college and what leaving for college would mean to their friendship as they begin to tell each other how they really felt about the future. How scared they were. One of my best friends had planned to attend IU with me, going as far as planning to be roommates. I was really getting used to the idea of having her as my roommate and thinking about all the adventures we were going to have together until she ultimately decided to commit to Notre Dame. It was really hard to accept the fact that we weren't going to see each other every day, but Superbad was really therapeutic as it rehashed my own fears on screen and ultimately encouraged me to appreciate the time I had with her by going on different adventures before our first year of college.

Another big lesson I learned is that not everything goes as planned - that's life. You have this big elaborate scheme of how you want things to work out, such as impressing this guy you like in your class in hopes of dating him or doing X, Y and Z to get a job that you wanted, but it doesn't always pan out the way you want. And that's okay. After not getting certain leadership positions and internships that I wanted, it allowed me to explore different options with my spare time, such as blogging for WeAreIU. I'm happy to say that with what I've gained from my involvement with WeAreIU, I was able to finally get the positions and internship that I wanted. 

2. Monsters University, 2013

Doesn't this look beautiful? Although not confirmed, I've heard from various people that the campus used in the movie was inspired by IU's. An IUPUI alum's focus task of creating the film's trees and forests might be a possible tie!

Fun fact: Monsters University came out when all the kids who saw Monsters, Inc. (2001) started (or already was in) college. I thought the first Pixar movie I should mention should be Monsters University, because well... It's all about college! MU is the story of how the Monsters, Inc. duo, Mike and Sully, met and became friends in college. The movie opens with a very young monster Mike shadowing at Monsters, Inc. Falling in love with scaring, he grows up and he chooses to attend Monsters University as a Scare major. Mike, although a model student, isn't very frightening himself. He meets Sully in one of the introduction scare classes. Sully, although academically apathetic, is a natural at scaring and comes from a very well-known scaring family. They are then pitted against each other for half of the film, until their admission to the scaring program is put in jeopardy. As a last resort to stay in the scaring school, they work together by joining the -esque fraternity on campus, Oozma Kappa, to compete against the other Greek organizations in the scaring games.

What I got from it: The main thing that really struck a cord with me (spoiler) was the focus on Mike and his love for scaring. As a model student that studies his butt off believing that his hard work will pay off, he ultimately isn't taken seriously and is unable to scare effectively. The stand out scene for me was when Mike finally becomes self-aware that he isn't capable of scaring a child. He's heartbroken and discusses his fears of being a failure. As the movie nears its end, Mike ends up scaring a cabin full of kids by effectively setting up a scary scenery. After being expelled, Mike and Sully eventually find an entry-level job sorting mail at Monsters, Inc. Sully eventually becomes a scarer, with Mike as his assistant. A big lesson was that although Mike didn't have the special set of skills for him to become an actual scarer, he had a special talent of setting the mood for an effective scare. He didn't give up or settle on studying "scream cans" when he found out he couldn't pursue his dreams of becoming a scarer, he just found another path that allowed him to be on the scare floor. In college, you have to learn that hitting a dead end doesn't necessarily mean the end of your journey, it's just the beginning of a new path opening up for you.

3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, 2001.

Since I was a little girl, I've been in love with Harry Potter. Not only for the fond memories of going to midnight premieres with family and friends, but for the storyline and characters. Every installment of Harry Potter offers a special lesson in each, but the first installment, Sorcerer's Stone, is more relatable to those starting college since it follows Harry Potter and company as they head to their first year at Hogwarts. Awkwardly trying to make friends, getting acquainted with different scenery, trying to pass your broom flight class, etc. As seen in the video, they're completely in awe of what awaits them at the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I can't say that I've ever looked at a place in awe like that until I visited Bloomington for the first time. 


"Better be... TETER QUAD!"

What I got from it: Many freshmen, including myself, worried about things like rooming placements, the sorting hat of IU -- we've all heard the same stories and stereotypes about each building. There's always a fear of turning into the negative stereotype of the building you didn't want to be placed in or to feel like you need to fit the stereotypical mold of the res hall's reputation. The truth is? You don't have to. A really big scene is when Harry is getting ready to be sorted into one of 4 houses. All the houses have a certain reputation attached to them, and all the first-years are nervous as they wait to get sorted into their respective houses. Although the hat suggested he be placed in Slytherin, he begs for Gryffindor and gets what he wanted. Ultimately, you may think that the house or res hall you're put in may seal your destiny and determine your future, but you always have a choice, whether it's to request a different path or challenge yourself by changing your attitude about where you're placed. 

Also, it stresses the importance of going to great lengths in order to look out after one another. It's the right thing to do, even if the person annoys the living daylights out of you. Looking at you, Hermione.

4. Toy Story 3, 2010.

I can't really say much about this film without getting really sentimental, so I won't say much. Growing up with Toy Story, the third installment of the film, we finally see toy owner Andy get ready to go to college, and the future of his childhood toys hang in the balance. It's scary to see how easy it was for me to put myself in Andy's shoes as he gets ready to pack for his first year, and think about how much I've changed.

What I got from it: The movie always leaves me with one lasting message: Enjoy and appreciate every moment. I find this especially true as I prepare to enter my junior year at IU. Time flies when you're having fun.


"I can't stop Andy from growing up.. But I wouldn't miss it for the world." Toy Story 2

Note: Don't watch it with your parents unless you want to see copious amounts of sobbing from them. Seriously.

5. Legally Blonde, 2001.

One of my favorite movies of all time, and one of my favorite movie characters of all times. I'm convinced that if you ask yourself in a tough situation, "What would Elle Woods do?," you will never be led astray. Legally Blonde follows Elle Woods, a seemingly stereotypical blonde from California. Her boyfriend, Warner, breaks up with her for not being "serious" enough. She then works hard to get into Harvard Law, the school he plans on attending, in hopes of getting back together with him. She gets accepted, and the minute she steps onto campus, she attracts attention - but not in a good way.

What I got from it: For me, the most outstanding scene of the whole film is when Elle goes to what someone told her was a Halloween party, and she's dressed up as a Playboy bunny - everyone else is dressed in casual attire (the clip above). 

When she realizes that Warner doesn't take her seriously, a light switches for her. She realizes that he thinks she's not good enough for him, so she decides to show him "how valuable Elle Woods can be." She begins to study hard for her classes and works hard for her internship in order to prove him wrong. At first, she does all this work to get him back, but as the film progresses, you see that she's actually doing all that work for herself. And she succeeds. Why? Because she believes she can. That's the true Elle Woods attitude. She's positive and doesn't allow the opinion of others to change her. 

Another valuable lesson? People assumed Elle Woods wouldn't last a second in Harvard, because she's very blonde, she's very bubbly, she says, "like," in every other sentence, and she's everything that's not considered Harvard-material. But as we learn, "first impressions are not always correct." People can surprise you with what they're capable of! 

6. Breaking Away, 1979.

Last, but not least. If there's a movie every Hoosier should absolutely see before coming to Indiana University, it is the Academy Award-winning Breaking Away. Through the many Hoosier still wearing "Cutters" shirts on campus and the decoration at the IMU or Starbucks on Indiana, the impact of the film has left an obvious mark in Bloomington.

The coming-of-age story centers around a tradition that all Hoosiers have come to love: The Little 500. The film was written by IU alum Steve Tesich, and was shot in Bloomington and around the IU campus. Having just graduated from high school, four working-class friends from Bloomington, Mike, Dave, Cyril and Moocher have no clear-cut plans for the future. As townies, they begin to clash with the well-to-do students of IU, and are referred to as "cutters" since it was common for locals to become stonecutters for the limestone quarries in Bloomington. After a major clash with IU students, the guys are invited to race in the Little 500 bicycle race, marking the first time non-students were allowed to race.

What I got from it: As a student, I noticed how the IU students were portrayed in the film - mean and condescending. It makes you take a step back and think about the way you should treat one another, student, staff or otherwise. The movie also dealt with fear that the main characters had of the future - College? Work? Leaving your friends? There's a lot of scary scenarios, but sometimes, you have to jump in with both feet! 

Ultimately, it's a Hoosier classic, and it's amazing to compare and contrast the campus then and now as you begin to notice familiar sites. Quarries, anyone?

About The Author
Catherine HuynhJournalism Major, Class of 2016

My name is Catherine Huynh, and I'm currently a junior at the greatest college in the nation -- Indiana University!

I'm currently pursuing degrees in both Journalism and Communication & Culture, along with a minor in Sociology. I am a Campus Representative Intern for VS PINK at Indiana University, serve as Director of Communications for the Public Relations Student Society of America - Beth Wood Chapter, a Student Ambassador for the Department of Journalism, and I'm also a proud student blogger here at We Are IU!

"The thing I remember best about successful people I've met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they're doing... and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they're doing, and they love it in front of others."  - Fred Rogers

Follow me on Twitter for various news, Hoosier-related things and the occasional random tweets about my favorite TV shows and Justin Timberlake.