PHD Movie: A Documentary of the Graduate School Experience
Figure 1: PhD Comics
Looks aside, the actors and actresses brought depth and complexity to the 2D characters from the comic series. Actress Alexandra Lockwood was excellent as the ever-so-optimistic Cecilia and Tony Chu was perfect as her clueless advisor Professor Chu (substituting for Prof. Jones in the comic). Actor Evans Boney had the right blend of Zen and Star Wars to portray grad student guru/dinosaur Mike Slackenerny. I just wish they had given anthropology student Tajel (Crystal Dilworth) more screen time, and where's Prof. Rivera? Finally, there's Raj Katti playing our nameless hero (you'll have to watch the movie to find out his name) so convincingly that one would think he was actually a first-year graduate student...oh wait, he actually is a grad student in real life! In fact, most of the cast were either PhD graduates (the lucky ones) or still in grad school. No wonder their performances felt so genuine!
I was very impressed with how they brought to life comic strips that were only 3 or 4 frames in length, piecing together the entire history of the comic series (right back to its black-and-white beginnings in the Stanford Daily when Jorge Cham was still a grad student) into a coherent hour-long movie. Some may argue that audiences with fewer degrees may not fully appreciate the humour (cf. The Big Bang Theory), but I know that the handful of undergrads and B.A./B.Eng./B.Sc. graduates who managed to sneak into the screening shared the laughter. I have a feeling that graduate students would no longer be considered a marginalized, misunderstood, struggling social group if this movie were given a wider release.
I'm really [word censored from vocabulary] for a trilogy that follows the saga of our no-longer-nameless hero as he ventures deeper and deeper into the thesis zone. There is already enough content in the comic series for a sequel, possibly centred around a first attempt at quals. They could even make a movie to show each year of study, giving us 7 movies (on average).
If you were unable to attend the screening last Friday (stuck in the lab, of course), make sure you get there early for the 6:30 pm screening this Wednesday, November 23rd. I guarantee it will keep you laughing from the very first scene right to the end. The PhD movie is a comedy/documentary that you don't want to miss.