The 15 Greatest College Movies of All Time


Labor Day is just around the corner, and college students everywhere are getting ready for another year of higher learning. For graduates like myself, this can be a nostalgic season. In honor of those halcyon days, here are the 15 greatest college movies of all time.

1. Animal House

I'm not just bending to tradition, Animal House really is the best. I thought about putting Old School in the top slot, but the “where are they now?” epilogue from Animal House is just flat out one of the funniest scenes in any movie, period. They weren't the first to do an ending in that style, but they were definitely the best. This film inspired scenes in just about every other movie on this list, and is also a crucial component in the 6-degrees from Kevin Bacon phenomenon. 

2. Old School

Will Ferrell is absolutely on top of his game in this movie. His rendition of Neil Diamond's “Dust in the Wind” is indescribably hilarious, and “We're going streaking!” is easily one of the most quotable lines in move history. A case could be made for Old School being the best college movie of all time, but Animal House is still #1 for me.

 3. The Freshman

A personal favorite of mine, The Freshman, starring Mathew Broderick and Marlon Brando, is likely not the most popular movie among college students today. This is a shame, because the film is absolutely brilliant. Broderick plays a strapped-for-cash freshman *duh* at a film school in New York City, where he's currently enrolled in a detailed dissection of The Godfather. When a suspicious “businessman,” played by none other than Marlon Brando, makes him an offer he can't refuse, his life takes a turn for the hilarious. Go watch this movie. 

4. The Waterboy

Remember when Adam Sandler made funny movies? I do. Sadly, the success of this film is what gave Sandler the capital to found Happy/Madison productions. Just a year later, Little Nicky heralded a seemingly never-ending brigade of utterly terrible “comedies.” A relic of a bygone era, The Waterboy has so many great little throwaway jokes that it demands multiple viewings, and somehow gets better with age.

5. The Social Network

Now this is just a really good movie. I may be a bit of a David Fincher fanboy, but there's no denying that The Social Network tells a provocative story in an engaging way, and with plenty of Aaron Sorkin's legendary repartee layered on top. What's not to like? I mean besides Facebook's “timeline” feature, of course.  

6. Road Trip

Oh Tom Green, I remember when you used to be funny too. Road Trip is a classic that spawned both sequels and spin-offs, one of which was even good enough to make the top 15. It's easily Tom Green's best work, and Sean William Scott is even funnier than he is as Stiffler in the American Pie series.

7. Drumline

I really love this movie. The plot is forgettable, the jokes are hit/miss, but the sheer spectacle of the marching bands is enough to make it one of the most entertaining college movies of all time. Drumline is actually a very well shot film, and it does an excellent job of letting the music be the star. Downright infectious, it's one of those movies that I just can't help but watch when I come across it while channel surfing.

8. Back to School

This 1986 Rodney Dangerfield classic is a perfectly campy movie. Like Dangerfield, Back to School doesn't take itself too seriously, and is a winner because of it. Not only does it feature an up-and-coming Robert Downey Jr. as the 80s emo roommate, but the “Triple Lindy” dive is one of the most absurd and hilarious climaxes to any movie, ever. Watch this and don't laugh, I dare you.

9. Real Genius

Another throwback, 1985's Real Genius, starring Val Kilmer, is a truly enjoyable film. It's pretty severely dated (the plot centers around the “new” technology of lasers), but this movie is a feel-good romp if there ever was one. 

10. How High

This movie is so bad it's good. And I mean really, really bad. Method Man and Redman hit on just about every lame stereotype in the book, and the premise alone is enough to make a serious critic choke. Laugh at this one, not with it.

 11. Van Wilder

Van Wilder taught us that you can solve all of your problems by partying; a valuable lesson for today's youth. This movie introduced the world to Kal Penn, and features Ryan Reynolds at his irreverent best. Say what you will about RR, but the man has a niche, and he found it in this movie.

 12. Good Will Hunting

Obviously, Good Will Hunting is a better movie than almost all the films listed above, but the fact that the college aspect of it is so far removed from the plot forces it towards the bottom of this list. I don't think I need to lavish any more praise on the outstanding work of cinema that launched Matt Damon's career, so let's move on.

13. Orange County

A simple but occasionally profound movie, Orange County tackles the existential angst that surrounds higher education. College isn't all frat parties, road trips, and multi-billion dollar, paradigm-shifting website ideas, it's also the most important and stressful aspect of many young people's lives. Orange County portrays this well, plus it features Jack Black before he made School of Rock and got all “big-time” on us.

 14. Eurotrip

A distant cousin to Road Trip, Eurotrip is a lot funnier than you might think. It's dumb, but harmless, and it gave us the classic song, “Scotty Doesn't Know.” That alone is worth a nod.

15. The Sixth Man

Believe it or not, there was a time when the Wayans brothers would actually star in different movies, and The Sixth Man is certainly Marlon Wayans' finest work from that era. The movie is formulaic, but endearing, and actually pretty damn funny.