With the holiday season just a few days away, “Best of the Year” compilations are accumulating faster than student requests for term-paper-deadline extensions. It is in that spirit that University Life recognizes its five favorite films about higher education from 2023.
Grrrr…. — Blinky, a therapy cocker spaniel at Middlebury College in Vermont, awakens one morning to find blood on its paws. On the campus quadrangle a sophomore is lying in the snow, viciously mauled. Blinky can only recall accepting an odd-tasting dog biscuit the night before from a mysterious man in a Patagonia windbreaker who claimed to be an adjunct professor. A spine-tingling thriller, with a twist at the end involving a tattered copy of The Bridges of Madison County that will leave you speechless.
Lived Experience — Michelle is a madcap post-modernist scholar at Auburn University who studies poetry as oppression. At an end-of-semester holiday party she meets Ax, the defensive line coach of Auburn’s football team. Sparks fly. The strength of their physical attraction is matched only by their ideological antipathy. They love each other. They hate each other. They love each other. They hate each other. A delightful romantic comedy, featuring a sex scene in a steamy locker room that will melt your contact lenses.
Draw! — A faculty task force charged with revising the Core Curriculum at the University of Wyoming has reached an impasse: there’s not enough room in the Core for required courses in both Sociology and Political Science. Rusty Dillard, chair of Sociology, and Monica Trusk, chair of Political Science, agree to settle the matter via a gunfight on Laramie’s Main Street. Monica doesn’t reveal that she is blind in one eye as a result of a childhood accident involving her Ninja Barbie. A taut, old-fashioned Western worthy of John Wayne. You can almost smell the prairie dust on their boots.
Academentia — Pervis Lofflin, the new President at Boise State University, has announced his commitment to using reason and logic to lead BSU to greatness. The faculty union objects, and proceeds to take a vote of no confidence in the President. The motion passes, 214-7. Lofflin’s chronic migraine headaches begin to worsen, affecting his performance in the bedroom. Felicia, his wife, takes a lover. Heart-wrenching and profound.
Trojan Horse — Every night she’s on duty, a deranged nurse in Lehigh University’s Health Services Center steams open 50 individual condom packets, uses a pin to poke a tiny hole in each Trojan, and then reseals the packets. She deposits the damaged goods in a punch bowl in the Center’s waiting room. Co-directed by Seth Rogan and Greta Gerwig, this is a thought-provoking examination of the consequences of untreated mental illness and the dangers of youthful lust.