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For incoming freshmen, college can be a big, scary new world. And between homework, class schedules and weird new roommates, there's enough to worry about without the added pressure of putting together a decent DVD collection.
So in order to help your new college experience go as smoothly as possible, we've put together a list of the 20 essential DVDs (or Blu-rays) that every new college freshman should own, including all the best movies for college's favorite pastimes: drinking, hooking up, studying and even smoking — you know, if you're into that (Mandatory Disclaimer: NextMovie does not condone underage drinking or illegal drug use).
Your education starts now.
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There still ain't no thing like the original thing, baby, which is why every college student needs to check out "Animal House." Just how influential was "Animal House"? Ever since its portrayal of a hard-drinking, hard-partying frat house hit theaters, frat houses around the world have been doing their best to live up to the ideal. It's a case of life imitating art imitating a food fight. A classic.
Some people just can't let go of their college glory days. And once you get a look at "Old School," you'll see exactly why those people consider college to be the best time of your life: Because it so totally is. Trust us: Once you see Will Farrell as the instantly iconic "Frank the Tank," you'll never look at school the same way again.
Yeah, so "The Hangover Part II" was a bit of a disappointment. But the original "Hangover" still holds up as one of the funniest films in recent memory, thanks in large part of Zach Galifianakis' mentally unbalanced Alan. While we always urge moderation when it comes to drinking, there is something to be said for waking up with a tiger in your bathroom. If you're going to eff up, do it epically.
Drinking doesn't have to always be about kegs, hangovers and regrets. Case in point: "Swingers," which launched a whole retro-Rat Pack revival thanks to its '50s-style cool and its love of a well-made martini. And if Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau's best performances to date aren't quite enough for you, don't worry, because "Swingers" also features one of the greatest soundtracks ever compiled. It's so money.
If you're not much into the whole beer scene, try out a film with something a little more refined on its mind: "Sideways," which chronicles the lives of two very serious wine enthusiasts taking a tour of California grape country. Both extremely funny and surprisingly moving, "Sideways" won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. See what a little culture can do for you?
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Dave Chappelle became a thing thanks to this wacked-out (in the most literal sense) comedy about a couple of stoners trying to spring their friend from jail by using the awesome power of weed. Even if Chappelle weren't so great, this one would be worth watching just for the cameos, which include Jon Stewart as well as pot godfathers Willie Nelson and Tommy Chong.
'Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle'
Who knew that you could create an entire film franchise about the munchies? But that's just what happened thanks to 2004's "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle," in which the titular heroes attempt to score the ultimate post-hit snack. Bonus: The series helped revive Neil Patrick Harris's career, which deserves a massive thank you from everyone.
Most people probably don't associate Disney with the wacky weed, but there's one big exception to that rule: "Fantasia." Considered a bit of a dud when it arrived in 1940, this visionary union of animation and music was rediscovered in the psychedelic '60s; turns out dancing hippos in tutus are the perfect way to help expand your mind. Far out.
'The Big Lebowski'
Not many films can claim to have inspired an entire lifestyle, but "The Big Lebowksi" is one of them, as millions of fans have taken up The Dude's live-and-let-live philosophy of mellowness. But you don't have to attend a "Big Lebowski" convention to see why; just one viewing will convince you of the nobility involved in dedicating your life to rug custodianship.
'Dazed and Confused'
Among the best coming-of-age films ever, "Dazed and Confused" chronicles one fateful night in the lives of a group of high school students in the mid-'70s. The lesson? Sometimes sex, drugs and rock n' roll can actually save your soul. Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich and Parker Posey are among those who toke up in the name of great justice.
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The premise is as simple as a kiss and as timeless as heartbreak: On his last night in Europe, Ethan Hawke's backpacker meets Julie Delpy's French university student. With just one short evening together, the two begin a whirlwind tour of Vienna — and of their own hearts. One of the great romantic films of the last quarter century.
Woody Allen became Woody Allen — and Diane Keaton became "Annie Hall" — thanks to this 1977 Best Picture winner, which features Allen at his absolute best as a guy trying to figure out how he screwed up the love of his life so badly. Sad, funny, beautiful and witty, "Annie Hall" encourages both kissing and thinking — as do we.
Grab the tissues, people, because no matter how jaded you might think you are, nothing can withstand the emotional pull of "The Notebook." Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams are two star-crossed lovers who are torn apart by everything from overbearing parents to a literal world war, but somehow they get together in the end — just like you and your hookup will do by the 90-minute mark.
For an entire generation of film fans, John Cusack is and always will be Lloyd Dobler, an aspiring kickboxer who falls for the class valedictorian (Ione Skye) after their high school graduation. The mismatched pair has highs, lows and a boom box for the ages. If you're going to fall in love tonight, fall in love with this movie.
One of the most beloved indie films of the past decade, "Garden State" was written and directed by Zach Braff, who also stars as an emotionally screwed-up guy trying to deal with the death of his mother. When he meets the equally screwed-up Natalie Portman, the two begin an odd and endearing relationship backed by one of the best soundtracks ever.
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'Dead Poets Society'
Despite the fact that he's not sporting a beard, Robin Williams is in serious mode in this timeless ode to the amazing influence a good teacher can have. Williams plays an English teacher at an uptight boys school who instructs his charges in how to think critically about their world — the most important lesson any student can ever learn.
'Revenge of the Nerds'
Of course, nerds have pretty much been getting their revenge for the past decade, as geek culture has taken over the mainstream. But just in case you like your revenge to be a little more visceral, check out this '80s classic that features a group of dorks and dweebs overturning college society by using their big brains to become campus heroes. Hell yeah!
'Good Will Hunting'
Robin Williams finally gets his beard on in this indie hit, but his limelight is kind of stolen by two newcomers to show biz: Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, who co-wrote and co-star in this film about a super genius trying to escape the circumstances of his life through the power of education. Oh, and a young Casey Affleck steals some scenes in it as well. How you like them apples?
'The Breakfast Club'
Getting an education is important, but sometimes the best lessons in life are the ones you learn after school. That's the big takeaway from "The Breakfast Club," which features the Brat Pack as a group of mismatched misfits thrown together for one unforgettable day of detention. John Hughes at his best.
Reese Witherspoon joined the big leagues by joining the Ivy League in "Legally Blonde," where she plays a supposedly ditzy gal who enrolls in Harvard Law School to chase her dream guy. Instead she realizes her true abilities, realizes her full potential and becomes a star lawyer, smashing the preconceptions of those who had stereotyped her. Plus, it's funny. Reese can truly do it all.