Five Films to Help your Move to Uni


Lawrence looks at five coming of age films that may help ease the anxiety of coming to Uni for the first time

Article Image

Image by IMDb

By Lawrence Mason

It’s that time of year again, time for students to return to campus, return to lectures and begin another year of University, however, for many, this will be their first time moving away from home. This isn’t an easy thing. Coming to University marks a key step in someone’s life, childhood is over, but are you really an adult yet? It’s a big change, saying goodbye to mum and dad, uprooting your life in search of independence, a fresh start, to begin the course of your dreams, or maybe all of the above. Luckily, you’re not alone, alongside the thousands of other freshers, there are no shortage of films depicting the very same things that you’re going through, the beginning of this strange in-between stage in your life, not quite adulthood, but childhood is certainly over. This article isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list of the best coming of age films, but rather a collection of films that explore the same things many freshers would be going through, or just the general anxiety about growing up I’m sure everyone has felt at least once in their life.

Written by Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg, Superbad fits nicely into the late 2000s comedy cannon. Depicting two highschoolers who are about to go to different colleges, they embark on an odyssey across Vancouver in order to find alcohol, and then finally arrive at a party, where Seth hopes to get together with his crush Jules. Despite having some genuine laugh out loud moments, and the infamous McLovin character, the film has a strong heart. Bubbling under the surface of all the hijinks is the genuine anxiety the two main characters feel about going to college. They may mask this with confidence or excitement, but deep down they’re worried about leaving home, they’re worried about growing up.

This anxiety comes to a climax; after loading gas cans with alcohol from a different party, Seth finally confronts Evan (the film is based off Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg’s childhood, hence the same names) about going to a different college than him. There’s a sense of finality at the core of their dynamic, that this is their final night together, after this they part ways for what seems like forever. At the end of the film, they make up, and make peace with the fact that they’re both saying goodbye to their best friend. I’m sure this is a similar feeling many freshers have felt, after spending however many years growing up with the same group of friends, this group is about to be shattered, with pieces landing all across the country. But like the characters confess at the end, this is scary, you will miss each other, but ultimately, it's not goodbye forever, your friendship isn’t over, it’s just entered into a new chapter.

Boyhood is a very special film, for both me and the film industry. It follows a young boy as he navigates through his childhood, eventually ending with him leaving for college. Boyhood was the first film I ever wrote about, what now I look back on as a rather sub-par review, was at the time the first step I would take into exploring film on a deeper level, encouraging me to watch different types of films and translate my thoughts into words. For those involved in the film, Boyhood took 12 years to make; director Richard Linklater captured growing up in the most accurate way possible, by actually filming scenes every now and again for over a decade. We see the characters age, we see the children grow into adults, and the adults mature into well rounded individuals.

What struck me about Boyhood, is that there is no grand emotional moment, the film doesn’t end in a screaming match, or some big confession of love. Instead, just like real life, the ending creeps up on you, all the years blend into one until, before you know it, your childhood’s over, you’re ready to go to college and begin the next step. It ends on a reassuring note, throughout the film the main character struggles to find an identity for himself, he doesn’t quite know what type of person he is, but when he arrives at college, we get the sense that he’s finally found a group of people he fits in with, and he can now realise who truly is. Boyhood doesn’t follow the typical structure of a film, instead it opts for a more realistic take on growing up. The film needs an end point and moving to college is a natural stopping point for the film, but we get the impression that the character’s lives will continue on; life moves on whether you like it or not, and no film captures this gradual progression of time better than Boyhood.

Dazed and Confused
You might notice a trend when you read through this article, three out of the five films I will discuss are directed by Richard Linklater. If you’re familiar with his work, then you’ll know when discussing coming of age films it’s impossible to avoid Linklater. It’s his staple, it’s what he’s known for. His films often have a meandering plot that can seem directionless, but it’s the characters that occupy the story that Linklater focuses on. This is clear to see in his 1993 feature Dazed and Confused, following a group of teenagers celebrating the last day of school in the 70s. What the film excels at is exploring philosophical themes while at the same time being a fun, silly film about teenagers. The main character Randall ‘Pink’ Floyd travels in almost all of the cliques you can think of, he’s on the football team, he’s friends with the arty kids, but he’s also a stoner, and takes a younger freshman under his wing for the night.

Moving to Uni can be stressful and scary, but Dazed and Confused approaches this milestone moment with a chilled-out attitude that will hopefully help ease any anxiety, (perhaps that’s all the weed they smoke). Throughout the film, Randall is unsure whether he’s ready for college, but as the film unfolds, we understand that no one is ready for their next step in their life, but you have to move on. You can’t spend the rest of your life driving around your hometown with your school mates, you have to grow up. But instead of stressing you out, instead of the characters spending all their time worrying over the future, they just enjoy the last night of their old lives together. Whatever they do next, whatever steps they take in the next part of life, they’ll worry about that in the morning. Right now, just enjoy the time you have, the future will come whether you like it or not, and chances are, you’ll be fine.

Everybody Wants Some!!
Everybody Wants Some!! is the spiritual successor to Dazed and Confused, while it features new characters, it picks up from where Linklater left off in 1993, following a freshman in college who just arrived at a frat house. If Dazed and Confused tells us to relax in the lead up to a big life change, Everybody Wants Some!! reassures us that this change will be for the better. As our main character arrives at college, he soon fits in, finding his place on the baseball team and he begins his college experience on a high note, navigating his newfound freedom with plenty of new friends to help him through. One of the most interesting characters is Wyatt Russel’s Willoughby, while at first, he seems like a normal college baseball player, it’s eventually revealed that he is in fact 30. And that he has been fraudulently transferring to different colleges to continue playing ball and living the student life.

Much like Matthew McConaughey’s character in Dazed and Confused, Willoughby reminds us that we can’t fight growing up, we can’t continue to coast and live the life we’re comfortable with, we need to grow up. Growing up can be scary, but it’s something we all have to go through. You can’t be like Willoughby and refuse to progress in life because you don’t feel ready. Our main character took the plunge and moved to college, and he was all the better for it, growing up and becoming a more independent, well-rounded person. That is what moving to Uni is all about, embarking on the next stage of your life, becoming the person you are destined to be. Don’t deny yourself a future because you don’t want things to change.

This may be a surprising pick, after all I’m not sure digging holes in the desert reflects the typical Uni experience, although archaeology students may beg to differ. But, at its core, Holes is a story about arriving in a new, strange place, and making friends to help cope with your new environment. Chances are you watched the film in English class around year 8, if so, Holes may bring you an element of nostalgia. While the world seems to be changing faster than ever, and dragging you along for the ride, the film can take us back to a time when things were simpler, when instead of worrying about moving into a new place, or making new friends, your chief concern was getting Mr Smith’s fifth period History homework done in time. The main thematic thread of Holes is destiny, things go wrong for Stanley, and he attributes this to an ancient curse put on his family, but in the end, things work out well.

When the future seems uncertain, Holes reminds us that even if things aren’t looking good in the moment, everything happens for a reason, and in the end, what might seem like a curse could actually be a blessing. If York wasn’t your first choice University, don’t worry, Camp Green Lake wasn’t where Stanley wanted to spend his summer, but he comes out the other side of his experience a better person, and with tons of cash in the form of buried treasure. Holes is a simple, quite silly story, that can help take your mind off the stress of moving to University, and reassure us that in the end, things will work out fine.

Coming to University can be hard, but hopefully these films can help distract us from the stress, or remind us that everything will be okay, you’ll make friends, you’ll do well on your course, and, most importantly, you’ll eventually call this place home. Superbad helps us come to terms with saying goodbye to old friends, while Everybody Wants Some!! will help us make new ones. Boyhood puts coming to university in a wider perspective of growing up, while Holes can help us reconnect with our younger years, and Dazed and Confused, well that will just help us chill out.