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Nancy Berk, Ph.D.

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College-Bound in Hollywood

Posted: 03/28/2012 1:51 pm

This week, when New Line Cinema announced that it had acquired the screen rights to Andrew Ferguson's best selling book Crazy U: One Dad's Crash Course In Getting His Kid Into College, I had to cheer. First of all, I love Will Ferrell, who is slated to star as the crazed dad. Second, I appreciate Ferguson's research and writing talent. And last but not least, I'm thrilled that Hollywood is recognizing the stress and humor of college search and seizure.

Approximately three million families are taking college-bound journeys this year, and while it's an exciting milestone, it's not all sunshine and brick walkways. Last year, in a Huffington Post blog, I wrote about the hilarious and pretty accurate portrayals of family college chaos in episodes of ABC's The Middle and NBC's Modern Family. Parent-child conflict and higher education anxiety is front and center in Hollywood these days, and with the younger boomers pushing their teens through the process, it's a familiar hair-pulling experience in more households than we can count. Accurately portraying family dynamics and sensitively poking fun at the culture can serve as a virtual support group for parents and teens knee deep in applications and angst.

In honor of Hollywood's wake up call, I decided to cast the five (amusing) College Tour Parent Prototypes profiled in my book College Bound and Gagged: How to Help Your Kid Get into a Great College Without Losing Your Savings, Your Relationship, or Your Mind. These types provide comic relief on the college tour circuit. I'm pretty sure my casting suggestions will maximize the chances of a block buster. Here goes...

1. The Hipster
This isn't the young adult urban middle class Greenwich Village dweller-type hipster. This is the guy with the unbuttoned shirt and gold medallion. He'd still be wearing bell bottoms, but no store carries them and he refuses to shop vintage. Often sporting Italian loafers (no socks), a tan and superior attitude, he rarely talks unless name dropping or giving orders.

Actor: Steve Martin
No one does wild and crazy guys like Steve Martin. If he's unavailable, move on to Alec Baldwin.

2. The Tourist
The tourist favors Hawaiian shirts but can pull off the look by just showing up. He would never carry a purse, but always travels with a bulging fanny pack. (Hello! the fanny pack is a waist purse!)

Actor: George Clooney
He rocked the Hawaiian shirt in The Descendants. I'm not looking any further; he's hired.

3. The Turn-Around Teenager
From behind, they look exactly like 18-year-old girls, but when these moms turn around, teen boys everywhere just feel foolish. From their "yes, these are my daughter's jeans" with peeping thong to midriff-baring halters and Lady Godiva extensions, these moms specialize in crossing the line. They continue to channel their youth by flirting with their kid's guy friends. The Turn-Around Teenager Dad probably exists, but he's a lot less colorful and may go unnoticed.

Actor: Demi Moore
I'm not explaining this one.

4. The Verbalizer
Verbalizers are equally distributed across gender. They ask questions that make kids and other parents cringe. They've been doing it since preschool, so they're armed and dangerous. They fire off questions like their lives depend on it. Somewhere along the line, someone told them they'd get extra points for ridiculous.The Verbalizer also delights in waiting until the question and answer periods have just about wrapped up, then throws in another stupid question that no one can answer.

Actor: Nancy Grace
Okay, she's not an actor, but this role was made for her. Plus, she doesn't have to dance.

5. The Hoarder
Hoarders take anything that's free. Bottled water. Sandwiches. Brochures. It doesn't matter if they are thirsty, hungry, or in need of information; they don't want to miss anything.

Actor: Meryl Streep
Look, she can play anyone and be convincing. Wouldn't it be cool to see how she stashes a stale jelly doughnut and five campus maps?

I also have ideas about the soundtrack, but that's another blog....

 
 
 

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