8 Essential Post-Grad Movies

Movies Lists

“Pomp and Circumstance” seems to signal only one thing: a strange limbo.

You might be surrounded by peers going off to secure, cubicle-bearing office buildings, as you sit pondering which type of fried rice you should order for take-out. Maybe you’re facing the life-altering onset of employment, or rather, unemployment. If you just graduated and are feeling the cloud of adulthood approaching, do yourself a well-deserved favor and settle in with one of these (mostly) Netflix-ready flicks to console you as you try to figure out your next move. Pint of Ben & Jerry’s not included.

1. The Lifeguard

Kristen Bell plays Leigh, a stressed 20-something facing a laundry list of challenges as a writer living in New York City. Following a messy break-up and exhausting journalism research, Leigh retreats home to the comforts of high school nostalgia, parental cooking, and her old lifeguarding job. Diving into her old life leaves Leigh in the depths of a catch-22, as she falls headfirst for a high school-aged boy and faces an ultimatum from her boss: Run back to the city, or keep hiding from reality at home?

2. Post Grad

In this quirky coming-of-age rom-com, Alexis Bledel plays the oblivious Ryden Malby, a college graduate with a concerning amount of naivety. Expecting to land her dream publishing job right away, Ryden is shocked when she is left in the dust, unemployed, and forced to move back home. With no path to follow, she turns to the retail world, and learns how to live day to day, expectation free. Ryden’s hopes of a perfect, secure job waiting for her next to her diploma are relatable, but we hope Ryden’s story will serve as a cautionary tale.

3. Camp Takota

After she accidentally leaks her boss’s affair on the Internet, Elise (Grace Helbig) finds herself unemployed and wine-drunk by noon. With summer approaching and her teenage camp job as her only option of income, Elise heads for the countryside. Reuniting with her old friends and fellow counselors brings Elise not only bug bites but a much-needed reality check. And reminiscing by the lake leads Elise to the quarter-life crisis answers she had been awaiting. With her head cleared up, she pushes herself to make the career changes she should have made months before. Cue fresh-start-inspirational closing montage music.

4. Tiny Furniture

Before she graced HBO with Girls, Lena Dunham debuted her talents with the 2010 indie-favorite, Tiny Furniture. Beginning with the immediate punch of post-college reality, Aura (Dunham) crawls back to the warmth of home, met with zero sympathy from her younger sister, Nadine, played by Dunham’s real-life sister, Grace. As Aura navigates her way through disconnected friendships and failed employment searches, the expectations of a productive life begin to wear on her, and she falls into a mind-numbing slumber in her own pool of laziness.

5. The Graduate

What would a compilation of post-grad films be without the inclusion of Mike Nichols’ 1967 masterpiece? Perpetually posed with the question of “What will you do after you graduate?”, Benjamin Braddock is a fresh, doe-eyed grad. Full of uncertainty and confusion, Braddock turns to Mrs. Robinson, a fountain of insight into what lies ahead for Ben. And a total cougar.

6. Into the Wild

Jon Krakauer’s acclaimed book hit the big screens in 2008, depicting the tumultuous tale of young Chris McCandless (Emile Hirsch). Following his college graduation, McCandless pulls all the money from his bank account, first donating some to OxFam, and, delusionally inspired by his role model, Jack London, burns the rest. Exemplifying the mantra “go west, young man,” McCandless sets off to seek adventure. En route to Alaska, McCandless shares his radical thoughts on government, moreover how society would be better off without any rule at all. And along the way, he encounters a cast of characters, all lending him a slice of wisdom from the pie of life-before meeting the cold, unforgiving reality of the Alaska wild.

7. Ghost World

Although the film follows the wit and cynicism of fabled Enid Coleslaw (Thora Birch) as she graduates from high school, Coleslaw still faces the impending doom of growing up. Scarlett Johansson acts as Coleslaw’s angsty gal pal, Rebecca, who begins to grow tired of Coleslaw’s childish ways. Steve Buscemi steps in to portray Seymour, the prime example of an adult to avoid morphing into. And Enid becomes enthralled by Seymour’s pathetic life, devoting her days to his oddities instead of searching for a purpose in her own world. Complete with a lynchian diner and an upbeat jazz score, Ghost World provides a dark insight into direction-less suburbanites.

8. Trainspotting

Danny Boyle’s 1996 drama offers an honest look into 20-somethings and drug addiction. Honing in on a group of men who epitomize anti-ambition, the film follows Marc Renton (Ewan McGregor) as he tries to find a better, smarter path. Between lanky schmuck Spud showing up high for an important job interview and Renton’s emphasized denial of real life, the darkness is juxtaposed by Diane, a Twiggy look-alike Renton meets at the local pub. The 15-year-old turns up the saturation dial when necessary, enlightening Renton and reminding him that he can’t hide from the world forever, listening to Iggy Pop. Renton is met with a revelation: either succumb to his dirty gang of buds, or grow up and get clean.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin