Summer break is always over before you're ready. To prepare you for that dreaded trek back to your university campus, we're suggesting some college comedies that are pretty good on their own, but would certainly benefit from a toke or two.
We're skipping the obvious choices like Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds and Old School, focusing instead on buried treasures and cult classics. All titles are available to rent on digital platforms unless otherwise noted.
Back to School (1986)
Rodney Dangerfield never landed a better star vehicle than this broad comedy, playing a wildly successful big-and-tall clothing manufacturer who, as the title suggests, re-enrolls in college well into his 60s. The twist here: It's the same university his nerdy son is attending, and he not only becomes the big man on campus and successfully woos his literature professor but helps his kid score on the diving team.
Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
Richard Linklater channels the tone of his own cult classic Dazed and Confused, this time traveling back to 1980 to study the antics of a Texas college baseball team in the days before school starts. There's no conventional plot to speak of; it instead takes the form of a shaggy hangout movie wherein much beer is consumed, even more weed is smoked, and very little baseball is played.
How High (2001)
There was a time when Hollywood was positioning Method Man and Redman as the next great comedy duo, putting them not only in a short-lived sitcom on Fox and this throwback to '80s college capers. The rappers star as slackers who smoke some magical weed that lands them at Harvard, and fish-out-of-water antics ensue. It's probably only funny if you're also high, but the movie obviously made a mark: A "sequel" starring Lil Yachty and DC Young Fly aired on MTV earlier this year.
Orange County (2002)
A clerical error gets an aspiring writer (Colin Hanks) denied from his dream college, and he sets out to correct things. This is an underrated anarchic farce, much smarter and funnier than it has any right to be. It also boasts one of the best supporting casts of any 2000s comedy: Catherine O'Hara, John Lithgow, Chevy Chase, Kevin Kline, Harold Ramis, Lily Tomlin, Ben Stiller, and a scene-stealing turn from Jack Black as Hanks' stoner brother. Streaming on Amazon Prime.
Real Genius (1985)
Although it flopped in theaters, Martha Coolidge's high-tech campus comedy has since earned a well-deserved cult following. It's set at a university for science prodigies, where a meek freshman and a mischievous junior (Val Kilmer at the top of his game) develop a laser that threatens to be turned into a military-grade weapon. A smart mix of WarGames and Animal House, and dig that '80s fashion.
School Daze (1988)
Spike Lee's second film, released just a year before Do the Right Thing blew him up, is a trenchant examination of campus politics at a historically black college. In between the very real discussions of race and class are obvious breaks from reality, when the characters launch headlong into colorful musical numbers. As is the case with most of Spike's joints, it's as lively as it is messy but is still quite relevant. ♦