On one of the lesser HBOs, I just finished watching the last 2/3rds of one of my favorite movies: How I Got Into College, which, along with “Heathers” in 1989, was probably the last innocent gasp of films made for my specific generation just getting out of high school. Featuring a staggeringly-pretty Lara Flynn Boyle with actual baby fat on her cheeks and Anthony Edwards desperately trying not to lose his hair, you may remember this one as having the “Man A” and “Man B” stoner dudes inside people’s mailboxes solving SAT questions.
This movie was directed by Savage Steve Holland, who gave you the transcendent “Better Off Dead” and the execrable “One Crazy Summer” (and was also the voice of the Whammy on “Press Your Luck”), and even has Nora Dunn and Phil Hartman as college-entrant specialists. I’m not sure why this movie appeals to me so much, as it has none of the wicked darkness of “Heathers,” the off-taste brilliance of “Revenge of the Nerds,” or the existential fuck-you of “The Last American Virgin” – perhaps it fills a niche just by being very sweet. And Diane Franklin-esque, for that matter.
Anthony Edwards is slumming here, much as he was in the “Nerds” movies, but he manages to polish turd with the best of them. And Lara Flynn Boyle – god, before she starved herself rotten, she was so unthinkably cute. When Corey Parker (the forgotten “third Corey”) gets his first kiss from LFB, it is a paroxysm of innocent ecstasy.
Also, getting into college is such a fabulous (or tragic) rite of passage that I’m amazed more movies never addressed the experience directly. When each character gets their acceptance letter, I teared up, remembering the precise moment when my dad called me at school and told me that I’d been accepted into the University of North Carolina as an out-of-state student. I walked on air with a weightlessness that lasted weeks, and like Frost said, it made all the difference.
HIGIC was shot in 1989, which, along with 1986, I consider my favorite year of post-adolescence. There was a crispness to 1989, a bright shock of lacquered hair sticking straight up and being noticed. When Corey and Lara speed down the highway in order to get her college essay in before the deadline, I looked at the 1989 trees and felt like I remembered them that way, cold and upright, en route to an unforgettable spring.
Enough time has passed since 1989 that it has now gone past short-term memory, slipped even past some long-term thoughts, and become something harder, unbendable and staring across the expanse of sixteen years with the longing stare that “this time has truly passed.” They say the human body regenerates every cell every seven years, and so as I watch the blue sky in “How I Got Into College” and remember exactly how it felt, I see it with eyes that have been replaced twice over.