The PhD Movie: My 2 Cents

Posted: November 30, 2011 in Movies & TV
Tags: , , , , , , ,

A few months ago, I blogged about Jorge Cham (the cartoonist behind the online comic strip Piled Higher and Deeper aka PhD Comics) coming to the University of Waterloo for a talk and book signing. If you’re a fan of the comics, you probably know that Jorge and the crew have been working on a movie adaptation of the comics for a while. Here is the trailer:

The movie was finally finished recently, and has been showing in special screenings at several university campuses across USA and Canada. Yesterday, I had the chance to see it when they played it here in Waterloo. The theatre was at full capacity (which is not surprising, seeing as the tickets were free!) Most of the audience were understandably grad students.

The movie had a pretty good cast, all of which are amateur actors, and according to Jorge Cham, all of them are either current or former PhD students themselves, or have some connection to one. The movie did a good job at choosing actors that have a very strong resemblance to the comic characters. Even though the movie had its funny moments (and trust me, there were plenty of those!), I must say that some of the jokes were not as funny when adapted to the big screen. If you’re not a grad student, you will still laugh at some parts, but most of humour will go over your head. It is grad students (especially PhD students) who will be able to relate the most and get the humour in this movie.

The main problem in my opinion is that the movie relied on the comics for the material. There was no coherent plot to speak of, but it seemed more like a bunch of the comics stitched together, which made the dialogue seem like a sequence of one-liners. Some of the lines and situation were right out of the comics: If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll easily remember these scenes:

The scribbly cartoonish effects throughout the movie were cool and fun. The actors’ performance was adequate (although sometimes it was a bit wooden). This is not a Hollywood movie quality by any stretch, but you don’t see this movie for the plot or the Oscar worthy performances. It’s mostly a fun experience, watching this with fellow grad students who can all relate to the comedy (and tragedy), you get the feeling that you’re not alone!

Bottom line: if you’re a grad student, you should definitely see this movie. If you’re not a grad student, give it a try too, you’ll find some of it funny!

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