Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 128: The Graduate

Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #161
Year: 1967
Director: Mike Nichols
Starring: Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft

Ah, looking at that poster brings back some fond memories. When I was a senior in high school preparing for my graduation party, I made a pretty wicked PhotoShop of the poster to The Graduate – a movie I was slightly obsessed with at the time – putting my face in place of Dustin Hoffman's. Subtlety wasn't (still isn't) my forte, but hey, it made me laugh. I wouldn't have been inspired to make that poster if the source material wasn't excellent, and even though it's been since my high school graduation that I've actually watched the film, I can assure you that it is. It's given us some truly timeless quotes, it gave Simon & Garfunkel an excuse to write one of their best songs ("Mrs. Robinson"), it has some entries in the canon of oft-imitated-but-never-replicated movie scenes (See the last twenty minutes of Wayne's World 2, which parody The Graduate by restaging it with Mike Myers and changing nothing. And I thought I was unsubtle.) and, above all, it's an enjoyable, funny movie that lives up to every bit of the hype it has generated in the 40+ years since its release.

The film follows recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock (a very young Dustin Hoffman in his first movie role) as he returns to the West Coast where he grew up and is seduced by a friend of the family while accidentally falling in love with her daughter. It's one of those movies that even if you haven't seen it, you've seen it because of how many times it's been parodied, paid tribute to, and referenced in pop culture since its release – and as such, I'll forgo a proper plot summary here. I'd kind of like to look at the culture impact of the movie over the past forty years, but that sounds like a 2000 word essay, and I'm writing three blog posts tonight and have three research papers to finish by Saturday, so, uh, nah. So yeah, you're kind of getting ripped off with this post. As with a lot of comedies, it's kind of difficult to write a self-contained piece about the film and nothing else that's very useful or interesting, so I'm copping out. If you want a paragraph on Wayne's World 2, I could probably do that, but somehow I doubt if that's in high demand. At least you learned about some fun I had with PhotoShop in high school, so this wasn't totally a wash, right?

The Good: "Plastics" and "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me, aren't you?" are two of the greatest movie lines ever, and the Simon & Garfunkel song is so good, but I think the final shot of Dustin Hoffman looking out the back window of the bus with his presumed bride-to-be and that incredible look of doubt and apprehension on his face as the film cuts to credits says so much of what needs to be said about this movie. It's one of Hoffman's single greatest moments ever as an actor.

The Bad: Anne Bancroft's performance is surprisingly a little bit shaky, and not nearly as sexually enticing as Hoffman's character plays it as. Honestly, it's mostly creepy.

The Skinny: #161 sounds a little low to me. This one's a classic.

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