Fordham graduation is this Saturday, so in honor of that event, I thought this would be a fitting time to put up what might actually be my favorite movie--definitely one in my top five. Ben Braddock has just graduated and the only thing he's got planned for himself is a little "drifting here in the pool." Ideas? Well, everyone's got ideas for him... from "Plastics" to meeting with older women in hotels to taking out their daughters when they come down from Berkeley. Everyone thinks they've got him pegged, too. "Track star." "Agitator." (Gotta love the Normal Fell bit there as the landlord in Berkeley. Obviously, that got him the Mr. Roper gig.)
Its tough though. The one thing college doesn't really prepare you for is figuring out what to do with yourself after you're done, and so any graduating senior can relate to what Dustin Hoffman goes through in this movie. For one thing, its just a bizarre situation to be back home from college after you've lived four years on your own and now, all of the sudden, you're thrust back into their world. Your whole college life comes to a screeching halt, and now you're hanging out with people in their 50's. (At least my parents didn't buy me scuba gear and make me test it in our pool on my birthday in front of all their friends.)
The music (this seems to be a theme with me...) from Simon and Garfunkel is classic, as is the whole movie... Its tough to get more memorable than Hoffman's ride in his Alfa Romeo down to Santa Barbara to search for Katherine Ross's wedding, touched off by the "Mrs. Robinson" track.
So watch this, or go back and watch it again. Listen to every line. There are too many good ones that Hoffman's deadpan style might lull you past, but so many of the short ones are funny. He tells his parents that he's getting married, and then they realize that he hasn't even asked the girl yet.
"Benjamin, this whole idea seems rather half-baked."
"No, I assure you, its fully baked."
Anne Bancroft, who is like a million years old now (and married to Mel Brooks) rasps and smokes her way into Dustin Hoffman's world for the summer, culminating in a train wreck of a standoff towards the end. She "controls" much Ben's life, and the movie, until he finds what he actually wants and goes after it. So take some time off if you need, but not too much, to find your Elaine, and go after it like a track star. You'll learn why wood is better than wire, and how to keep a crowd at bay with a crucifix.
"Doesn't he seem like the kind of guy that needs to fight them off with a stick?"
Benjamin Braddock. Class of 1967.