Film Reviews: Daria: "Is It Fall Yet" and "Is It College Yet"

Introduction

There are two movies of the Daria franchise. The first one, called Is it Fall Yet? feels sort of like an extended episode, occurring during the summer between seasons 4 and 5, so between Daria and Jane's junior and senior years. Is it College Yet? the second movie, takes place in the last few months of senior year, when all the Lawndale High students are figuring out their college plans. Both movies are interesting, funny, and explore tensions underlying the show's status quo.

(Also, if you buy the DVD box set of the show, the movies are already included on there as "Extras" on the final disc. I wish someone had told me that before I bought them separately, oops!)

'Is it Fall Yet?' Summary

Basically, it's easiest to break the movie up by each characters' story:

  • Daria: Forced to volunteer at a summer camp led by Mr. O'Neal, because her mom wants her to do something besides "sit around the house all summer". She ends up sort of bonding with this one kid who hates everything because of a bad situation with his family.
  • Jane: Goes away to an artist's colony, where she deals with overwhelming pretentiousness, but she makes a new friend there. This friend is great until she makes sexual advances on Jane, which reasonably make her uncomfortable. She also sees this friend for a hypocrite and a phony when she starts going out with a guy she totally bashed in private.
  • Quinn: Gets a tutor so she can raise her score on a standardized college admissions test. At first she's ashamed to admit it, but then when word gets out, the guys actually think that's cool, so the other girls in the fashion club hire the same tutor. But, they all frustrate him with their apathy toward studying and disdain for anything even remotely "geeky". Quinn is the only one out of the four of them he doesn't quit on. She develops a crush on the tutor and actually asks him out, only to be shot down because he perceives her as lacking depth and thinks she'd be better off without him.
  • Mr. DeMartino: Goes to volunteer as a coach at the summer camp with Mr. O'Neal so he can rekindle his love of teaching. His abrasive personality at first seems to be working against him, until he makes the worst bully at the camp cry and rebels against O'Neal's policies in an outlandish fashion, which earns him tremendous respect from the students.
  • Mack and Jodie: Jodie has to do all kinds of activities and work to keep her parents happy, with no time left over for fun. Mack has to work in an ice cream truck, which is a job he hates.
  • Kevin and Britney: They start out trying to be lifeguards, but quickly get fired because well, no one should ever trust them to be lifeguards.

The movie also explores Jane and Daria patching up their friendship after the whole Tom fiasco that almost ruined it. The movie ends happily, of course, with Mystik Spiral giving the pair a friendship song written just for them.

'Is It Fall Yet?' Review

While this movie is not quite as good in my opinion as Is it College Yet?, it's still pretty good. I liked Jane's story, as well as Jane reconciling her feelings about Tom being with Daria. I also liked Mr. Demartino's story, as he is one of my favorite characters, because the intensity of his angry outbursts makes for good humorous moments. His speech at the end is one of my favorite parts of this movie. Quinn's story was also pretty good, although I preferred her story in Is it College Yet?, but she does show here that she can be more mature and intelligent than she pretends to be for the sake of popularity. Overall, I'd say this movie is on par with some of the best episodes of the show, but it still kind of feels more like an extended episode than like a true movie.

'Is It College Yet?' Summary

This movie deals with various characters agonizing over decisions regarding what they'll do after high school. (I think all these colleges are made up names, by the way.)

Daria: Is considering Bromwell, Tom's parents' alma mater, along with a few other schools. She doesn't want to let the influence of Tom's rich legacy family help her get into Bromwell, because it feels dishonest to her.

Jane: Is applying primarily to Boston Fine Arts College, but wonders whether college is right for her or not.

Quinn: Gets a hostessing job at an upscale restaurant, and makes a friend who's in college, allowing her to explore the college social scene. Unfortunately it becomes clear that her new friend, Lindy, might have a drinking problem. Quinn decides to confront Lindy about this when it costs Lindy her job when she's caught having a screwdriver at work.

Jodie: Grapples with a tough decision between Turner, the African-American college she'd prefer to go to, and Crestmore, the elite private college her father wants her to go to. Her boyfriend, Mack, helps convince her father to accept her decision to go to Turner.

Britney and Kevin: Britney, along with the other cheerleaders, is going to State University, but Kevin has to be held back because his grades were bad. I guess even jock privilege only goes so far.

The teachers: Ms. Barch misinterprets Mr. O'Neal's kind words as being a marriage proposal, and basically forces herself on him, discussing wedding plans and how they'll live together and that kind of stuff, despite his attempts at correcting her. Mr. DeMartino comes to the rescue, showing him how to stand up to her like a man. The problem is, when O'Neal finally does this, it just turns her on.

'Is It College Yet?" Summary and Review

Is It College Yet? was a very good movie. I think it showed off the best aspects of all of my favorite characters, and also created some genuinely difficult dilemmas for the characters to find a way to overcome. This is the kind of problem-solving leading to character development that I really like about the show. My favorite part of this was probably Quinn's, because she just started out wanting to have fun and got herself sucked into a potentially bad situation, and she showed a lot of promise in her ability to handle that situation maturely and rationally. Both of these movies prove that Quinn is less of a superficial ditz than Daria sometimes gives her credit for.

Conclusion:

While Is it College Yet? and Is it Fall Yet? are basically just longer episodes of the show, they're fun to watch and both have some strong character arcs. If you buy the box set of the show on DVD, the movies are included under "Extras" on the last disc. I definitely think these are worth seeing. I'd probably rate Is it Fall Yet? at about a 7.5/10, and Is it College Yet? at about a 9/10.

Listen to Uncle Anthony, kids!

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