Wild college movies are part of the American cinematic experience.
Sometimes, you may be in the mood to watch seriously mature cinema, including the groundbreaking works of James Cameron or the killer performances of Michelle Yeoh. Other times, though, you just want some cinematic junk food, and when you have those cravings, nothing hits better than a raunchy college movie. And while you might have to dig out those old DVDs rather than use Netflix or HBO Max, we’ve rounded up the definitive list of wild college movies, including a brief write-up of what makes these films such raunchy fun.
6. Animal House (1978)
It’s impossible to discuss wild college movies without discussing Animal House, the John Landis film about a troublemaking fraternity and their misadventures against a preppy rival fraternity and a conniving dean. This was the first film made by National Lampoon (formerly known only as a humor magazine), and it paved the way for quite a few future hits.
It’s not hard to see why people return to Animal House again and again. John Belushi is at his manic and perverted best in this film, and there are unforgettable gags involving everything from horse heart attacks to a new frat member discovering his date is underage. Just be warned: you’ll be quoting this movie for at least a week after you watch it.
5. Old School (2003)
Old School is, in all the ways that count, the spiritual successor to Animal House. But this Todd Phillips film (he would go on to make the Hangover trilogy as well as Joker) manages to be a hilariously wild college movie on its own merits as well.
The plot involves gentlemen in their 30s (including Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, and Will Ferrell) trying to relive their glory days by starting a college fraternity. And by the time you see these characters throw lubed-up wrestling matches so naughty they give people heart attacks, you’ll see why this one is in the raunchy Hall of Fame.
4. Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
While Revenge of the Nerds didn’t invent the formula used by wild college movies everywhere (that honor goes to Animal House), it did help crystallize the “slobs vs. snobs” vibe that most of these films embrace. In this case, the slobs are our titular nerd heroes, and the snobs they face are part of an entire fraternity of annoying jocks.
Interestingly, this is a film that has become more controversial over time and is arguably more transgressive than ever before. This includes many problematic scenes with female characters, and at least one scene that always leaves people arguing over whether we are meant to cheer for a date rapist. So this is certainly not a movie for the faint of heart, but if you’ve ever complained about modern movies being too politically correct, you might enjoy this retro (and occasionally retrograde) throwback film.
3. EuroTrip (2004)
EuroTrip began with a simple premise: what if the producers took the sex comedy vibe of Road Trip and set everything in Europe? This is how EuroTrip was born, and the loose plot is that Scotty and his friends are traveling across Europe so that Scotty can meet his pen pal.
What follows are rapid-fire comedy scenes about everything from being mistaken for the Pope to having sex in an airplane. But what really cements with as one of our favorite wild college movies is the earworm song “Scottie Doesn’t Know” that you’ll periodically remember and start humming for the rest of your life.
2. Van Wilder (2002)
Van Wilder is a reminder of the kind of weird movies Ryan Reynolds was starring in before he became an action hero thanks to Deadpool. In this wild college movie, Reynolds plays the titular character who is forced to try to make it through college when his dad cuts him off thanks to revelations about Van Wilder’s love of partying.
Most of the humor in this movie comes from the crazy and sarcastic dialogue that Reynolds does so well, including a memorable nickname for a rival student that we can’t print here. Suffice it to say if you love Ryan Reynolds, weird comedy, and strange jokes about sex, this may be the film you’ve been looking for.
1. Rules of Attraction (2002)
Unlike the rest of our wild college movies, Rules of Attraction isn’t a comedy, but it’s still very wild. This drama adapts the Bret Easton Ellis novel of the same name, with most of the plot revolving around James Van Der Beek playing a very different role than he played in Dawson’s Creek.
He plays Sean Bateman, who is the younger brother of American Psycho star Patrick Bateman. Sean is very different from his infamous brother, preferring to drink, sell drugs, and generally live his college life out in a complete daze. Ultimately, you’ll alternate between laughing, crying, and gasping with this strange film (maybe all three when it comes to a certain scene with a creepy townie), but just don’t expect any cameos from Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman.