No more teachers! No more books! No more teachers' dirty looks! When the teacher rings the bell, drop your books and run like hell!
It's the anthem of June, as classes wind down and summer begins. When there's two full months free of school, it's easy to forget the looming dark cloud that is September ... unless you're a lucky college grad (or a high school student not heading off to further your education).
There's a definite twist that happens over those four years, as school falls into a memory. High school grad movies are full of exacerbated partying, getting your last hoorahs, and last chances at childhood love. After college, however, the tone changes a little bit. There's work, the towering pressures from the adults around you, and the bad choices you make in the name of lust and love. The two films for this double feature are almost 30 years apart, but both are classics, known for their stars, music, and adult angst. I give you: The Graduate and Reality Bites.
There is no movie that better embodies the theme of graduation, as well as that of burgeoning adulthood, like Mike Nichols' The Graduate. Benjamin Braddock is a 21-year-old college graduate who comes home from college to face the expectations of his parents while he struggles to figure out his future. Amidst his confusion, he falls for the advances of his parents' friend, Mrs. Robinson, and begins a sexual affair that is complicated when he falls in love with her daughter, Elaine.
This is one of those films where every piece fits fluidly into the next -- the theme, the struggles, the acting, the shots, and of course, the soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel. "Scarborough Fair," "The Sound of Silence," and "Mrs. Roosevelt." No, wait. See, Paul Simon was writing a song about "Mrs. Roosevelt and Joe DiMaggio and stuff" when Nichols convinced him to change it to Mrs. Robinson. That simple change made the song iconic and helped to knock The Beatles' White Album off the top of the charts.
Imagine Robert Redford and Candice Bergen as Benjamin and Elaine. This led to the famous exchange between Nichols and Redford: ""Well, let's put it this way," said Nichols, "Have you ever struck out with a girl?" "What do you mean?" asked Redford. "That's precisely my point," said Nichols.
Other possibilities for Benjamin: Lee Stanley, Charles Grodin, Warren Beatty, Burt Ward, Jack Nicholson
Other possibilities for Elaine: Patty Duke, Sally Field, Natalie Wood
Mike Nichols gave up his hope to have Jeanne Moreau play Mrs. Robinson in order to use Simon and Garfunkel for the soundtrack.
Ronald Reagan was considered for the role of Mr. Braddock.
Marilyn Monroe was slated to be Mrs. Robinson when the book first started to be adapted in 1962.
That famous leg above belongs to Linda Gray.
The opening of The Graduate.
That infamous wedding scene.
But there's one more bit of trivia before we go to film number two. In the original screenplay, the film opens with Benjamin giving his valedictory speech. He gets rhetorical, asks what the point of college is, and then a wind blows his notes off the podium. He stammers: "It's because, it's because..."
Yes, the beginning of Reality Bites can tip its cinematic hat to The Graduate, although from there, things diverge a bit. Instead of one serving of angst, there is a myriad: Lelaina struggles to deal with the challenge of making a living versus making art, Troy struggles with trust and disinterest, Vickie struggles with promiscuity, AIDS, and the fear of being alone, Sammy struggles with coming out, and Michael, well, he struggles to be cool.
This was the time when reality television wasn't flashy. The Gap was all about button-down shirts.
Like its predecessor, however, Reality Bites offers the angst that comes with going out into the world and the pressure of adult relationships -- all with one of those memorable soundtracks. It's not all from the likes of one artist, but instead, offers an aural link to the past -- from Juliana Hatfield and Lisa Loeb to Ethan Hawke performing Violent Femmes.
This film snapped up "My Sharona" before Quentin Tarantino could use it in Pulp Fiction.
Janeane Garofalo beat out Anne Heche, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Parker Posey for the role of Vickie.
Introducing Renee Zellweger, before she had speaking roles.
Deleted Scene: Chinese Fire Drill
When Michael gets his hands on Lelaina's work. Guitar Hero fans might notice Social Distortion's "Story of My Life."
Life in "Clever Clever Land."