…and this incentive, combined with an two-for-a-bargain ticket pricing structure (“buy one, bring a friend for free”), meant that the movie played to a sold-out (lecture) theatre.
Almost everyone else in the cast and crew is either a real doctoral student or somehow connected to one.
The closing credits charmingly detail each of the cast and crew’s real-life roles as well as their cinematic contributions.
The film draws heavily on the comic strip, from the physical resemblance of the cast to their comic counterparts to the scenes with recreate strips from the comic verbatim. Cham mentions in his interview that he used the comic strip archives as elements of the plot, and there is a sense in which this is to the detriment of this piece of work as a movie. The characters’ actions, hopes and dreams take the form of set pieces and one-liners, and I was a little distracted by playing “spot the comic strip” among the jokes.
Perhaps intentionally, the film itself has something of the feel of a student production. However, in the same way you don’t look at xkcd for the artistry, or follow buttersafe for the engrossing plotlines (although either may contain elements of both), the real value in this movie comes from the shared experience of viewing it with about 200 likeminded souls. When the nameless grad student (and star of the movie) laments
I’m not working on a problem, I’m working on a subproblem of a subproblem of a subproblem
and the entire auditorium erupts with laughter, as a graduate student, you feel a little less alone.
(Another blogger agrees.)
Whilst someone who has not
endured experienced grad school will be able to laugh at the slapstick, smile at the thwarted romance, and hark back to the idealism of youth, it is PhD students themselves who will be touched most deeply by the exasperation, frustration, triumph and mention of a diet of caffine and ramen noodles.
The screening was also chance to catch up with fellow PhD students from across the campus (for example, those whom we worked with during the Research Development Course and had not seen since). Our conversations over free food and drinks resulted in essentially a re-enactment of the below comic (which also features in the movie). Those of you who are thinking of attending a screening would be wise to be wary of what topic of conversation you choose for your post-movie chat.