The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Arts November 4, 2005

Wanton Distraction
By Matt Goldberg

Five films that every college student must own

There are plenty of films I’d recommend everyone go out and buy, but I realize that most people might want to spend their time and money on social activities. Still, I can’t help myself from pushing films I like onto other people, because without a personality or a constitution for alcohol, a film library is basically all I have to get people to like me.

These are movies that are great to play in the background while you work, and they have dialogue as catchy as any song. Also, all of these films have a low likelihood of being reissued in the near future, so don’t worry about picking up a copy only to have a special edition arrive a few months later. And so, for the college student who’s low on cash and strapped for time, I submit these five films (in no particular order) for your consideration.

BASEketball (1998) – 103 minutes, $6.99 at Best Buy
I’ve never really understood why Trey Parker and Matt Stone don’t do more acting. What do they do with the other 37 weeks of the year when they’re not making South Park? They both have excellent comic timing and Parker can deliver some priceless facial expressions. David Zucker’s sports spoof manages to make great use of their comedic talents, along with that of their friend Dian Bachar, who ends up as the butt of many of the jokes. The film is filled with great random moments, some sharp commentary on today’s professional sports and completely unapologetic humor. I know I’m not the only one who finds comedy in putting 50,000 volts through a kid who’s a post-op transplant patient.
   »Choice line: “Wow. The Lord must really have it in for that little boy.”

Super Troopers (2001) – 103 minutes, $9.99 at Best Buy
This is a film you need to let sink in before you love it. There are plenty of jokes that connect the first time you see it, like the opening scene or the antics of Officer Farva. But watch it a couple more times and you’ll start to find yourself quoting lines that seemed completely innocuous the first time around. You will find ways to incorporate the lines, “I just lost a myself!” and “The lice hate the sugar” into your daily lexicon. I’ll admit the first time I saw the film I didn’t really get what the fuss was about and I can’t really explain what turned me around. All I know is that I manage to utter, “I am all that is man” at least twice a week.
   »Choice line: “...and that was the second time I got crabs.”

The Big Lebowski (1998) – 117 minutes, $14.99 at Best Buy
It’s the longest and most expensive film on this list and it is worth every second and every penny. It’s a tale that involves a urine-soaked carpet, bowling, kidnapping, a marmet, vaginal artwork, a cowboy and a nihilist to name just a few. It’s part western, part mystery, all comedy and all Coen Brothers. It may not have Fargo’s awards or O Brother, Where Art Thou’s soundtrack, but it has Jeff Bridges and John Goodman giving the best performances of their careers and a story which seems to be a constant parody and yet feels completely original. I won’t even describe the wonder that is Jesus Quintana. Much like Super Troopers, it’s a film that gets better and funnier with each viewing.
   »Choice line: “I’m the Dude. So that’s what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or, uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.”

Dirty Work (1998) – 81 minutes, $9.99 at Best Buy
Alongside the meaning of life and when will Keith Richards die (if ever), one of the greatest questions in the universe is why Norm McDonald doesn’t have a bigger career. Surely there’s a market for his unique brand of comedy. How did Rob Schneider yield films like The Animal, The Hot Chick and two Deuce Bigalows while Norm McDonald is reduced to cameos and failed sitcoms? Well, in this film about a revenge-for-hire business, the potential of Norm is unlocked, Chevy Chase is funny for the first time in years and it’s all under the direction of Bob Saget (I was surprised too). See it, or I’ll have no choice but to unleash my loyal army of prostitutes.
   »Choice line: “Note to self: No matter how hard life gets, there is always beer.”

National Lampoon’s Van Wilder (2002) – 94 minutes, $9.99 at Best Buy
There’s this Ryan Reynolds guy that seems to be popping up in a lot of films lately. If you’ve ever wondered who this guy is and why you should care, this film is your answer. He’s this mystical blend of Jason Lee, Jim Carrey and Chevy Chase (when he was funny). Don’t let the National Lampoon brand scare you; this film does not shame Animal House but honors it. Don’t let Tara Reid in a leading role scare you; she’s just a plot device and Reynolds carries her performance. But if you want something to scare you, then think of the funniest gross-out gag you’ve ever seen in a film. There’s a scene in this film that completely destroys all pretenders.
   »Choice line: “I know Ms. Pac-Man is special. She’s fun. She’s cute. She swallows.”


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