School and science: Back to school movie recommendations

Just kick back, relax, and enjoy a couple movies before you can’t anymore.


Courtesy of IBDb

Left: “Tall Girl” main character Judi played by Ava Michelle. Right: “Primer” main characters Aaron and Abe played by Shane Carruth and David Sullivan respectively.

Max Vetter, Entertainment Reporter

It’s that time of year again, and I’m sure plenty of people are looking for some good (and not-so-good) movies to forget the sorrow of the upcoming year of online learning. What better way to do that then to watch some back to school themed movies? For this, we’ll talk about a well-known movie based on high school and a less-popular movie about science that I’d love to share with you.

School: “Tall Girl” (2019)

Back in late 2019, “Tall Girl” became a bit of a meme for being “the next so bad it’s good classic”. It’s about Judi Kreyman, the titular tall girl, and the struggles that come with being a girl of such stature. Everyone knows this movie is terrible, even if they haven’t seen it, but I feel like the ridicule is a tad hyperbolic. As an amateur movie critic who has waded through the absolute worst of the worst, “Tall Girl” can’t compare to either sludge like “To Boldly Flee” (2012) or comedic masterpieces like “Fateful Findings” (2013). There’s a certain earnestness you need to make a truly great “so bad it’s good” movie, and “Tall Girl” is anything but. But even without that earnestness, “Tall Girl” has some charm.

This movie is vapid, unfunny, and quite annoying, but in a strangely immersive way. The main character is like an amalgam of every single snarky Marvel protagonist smushed together into the body of a rich, conventionally attractive, blonde girl, with a persecution complex to top it all off. Not a single character in this movie makes sense, especially not Dunkleman, who as a charismatic drama kid who speaks Japanese would probably be the most popular kid in the school. This results in a sort of twisted character study of someone so insufferable you wouldn’t ever want to see her in real life, but fascinating enough that you want to see how she treats her friends from a distance.

“Tall Girl”, while being a good “so bad it’s good movie” for beginners, isn’t funny enough on its own to not watch with friends. So go watch it with friends over Discord or Facetime. It’s trash, but fun trash.

Science: “Primer” (2004)

Not only is “Primer” the best time travel movie ever made, but it might just be the only time travel movie that’s entirely consistent. “Primer” follows Aaron and Abe, played well by Shane Carruth and David Sullivan. These two accidentally invent a time machine while trying to make a gravity canceling machine. What follows is one of the most mind-boggling time travel capers I’ve ever seen, with some important plot points not even being shown on screen.

The time machine in question is incredibly creative as well. It can only take you back as far as it’s been turned on. That means no dinosaurs and no talking to your future grandkids. Along with this, to go back in time, you have to wait for the entirety of the time you want to travel back. With these basic rules in place, Shane Carruth weaves a tale of scientific discovery and betrayal, posing that scientific experts who know nothing about ethics probably shouldn’t be given a time machine.

The strongest aspect of the film is its writing. Aaron and Abe seem exactly like the Silicon Valley type nerds who would accidentally make a time machine in their garage, and their eventual downfall was realistic and compelling. I also love how there’s a special emphasis put on the process of science, as opposed to most movies where human drama is more essential, and science is replaced with a snappy montage.

Carruth, a former engineer himself, finds the drama in the scientific method and puts it at the forefront. This is substantiated by how none of the characters in the movie ever explain the science that they would already know to each other. There’s no audience surrogate character – a character who should know about as much as the average audience member – so seeing these characters discuss the science they’re so passionate about in such a knowledgeable way adds to the feeling that you’re seeing something you shouldn’t.

“Primer” isn’t perfect, but it’s a truly excellent example of smart sci-fi done right, along with being a wonderful reminder that anyone can make a great movie. Please go see it, then watch this video, because it’s essential in understanding the plot fully. You can rent “Primer” on Amazon Prime, or anywhere else you rent movies.