The Duck of Minerva

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Any good academic movies?

August 29, 2012

With the loss of the drinking intellectual stimulation that comes from APSA, I’m in need of some inspiration to kick start the semester that begins next week.

We all know that academic life is full of adventure, comedy, human drama, and conflict. So, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a decent Hollywood movie about academic life.

Lucky Jim should be a shoe-in, but the 1957 film is just bad. Wonder Boys ranks high because Michael Douglas looks good in a pink robe, and in a rarity for this genre, actually refuses to sleep with his student. A Beautiful Mind isn’t really about academic life, but the critique of the movie by academics is close — can you believe that Hollywood simplified the complexities of Nash’s work — oh, the outrage! Most in the genre are too superficial or predictable — Tenure, Mona Lisa Smile, and the more recent Liberal Arts.

My favorite, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, is just too scary to watch again:

Any suggestions?

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Jon Western has spent the last fifteen years teaching IR in liberal arts colleges at Mount Holyoke College and the Five Colleges in western Massachusetts. He has an eclectic range of intellectual interests but often writes on international security, U.S. foreign policy, military intervention, and human rights. He occasionally shares his thoughts about professional life in liberal arts colleges. In his spare time he coaches middle school soccer, mentors the local high school robotics team, skis, and sails.