The Best Movie Pep Talks to Get You Through Finals


Isn’t it amazing how when finals roll around, you have the sudden urge to watch movies? You’re taking a study break, and TNT will have the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy running, and suddenly you’ve watched all the way from Bag End to Mordor. We want you to do well on your exams, but we also understand that urge to do anything but study when studying is all that must be done. As a compromise, we’ve assembled some movie clips that will give you a study breather while firing you up to knock out your finals.

  1. The Last Samurai:

    Have you considered the possibility that you’re overthinking your finals? If you can’t get thoughts of what happens if you fail, what you’re going to do this summer, or that hot chick that sits next to you in class out of your head, take a lesson from Nobutada the Samurai, and just let it all go.

  2. Stripes:

    So it’s the night before your big exam, and you haven’t studied. Private John Winger and his platoon found themselves in the same situation the night before their big army drills. Did they throw in the towel? Hardly, soldier. Winger reminded them that they were Americans, dammit, born to come from behind and beat the odds.

  3. Hoosiers:

    I’m sure acing your finals is beyond your wildest dreams so let’s just keep it right there. Forget about the stakes, the weight of the final. Focus on your flashcards that you’ve gone over time and time again. And most importantly, don’t get caught up thinking about passing or failing this exam. If you put your effort and concentration into testing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don’t care what the gradebook says at the end of the game. In my book, you’re gonna be winners. Okay!?

  4. Billy Madison:

    Just think: after you take that last final, you’ll be able to say right along with Billy Madison, “Yahoo for school! Yahoo for me!” And to anyone who says, “Hey, any idiot could graduate from college,” Billy’s got your response for that, too.

  5. Fight Club:

    It being Fight Club and all, this pep talk is a bit anarchistic and the recommendations inadvisable for anyone who wants to continue living in society. But the clip and the movie in general made a lot of great points, not least of which that it’s important in life to keep things in perspective. Having the perfect clothes or apartment or GPA or whatever does not really matter. What matters are the things you’ll think back on when you’re on your death bed, and taking a final will probably not be one of them. So don’t sweat it so much.

  6. The Big Kahuna:

    The monologue at the end of this movie doesn’t mention studying, but it does touch on pretty much everything else in life. It reminds you not to worry about the future, since your biggest troubles will probably be things you never thought to worry about. If you don’t know what you want to do after you take this final and graduate, don’t worry about that either; some of the most interesting people were once right where you are now.

  7. Accepted:

    In creating his own fake college called South Harmon Institute of Technology (check the acronym), Bartelby Gaines discovered learning can happen without teachers or classrooms (or dare we say, finals?). All you need is a desire to better yourself that you never have to let go of. So no matter what happens on your exam, remember it’s OK to be a $#!%-head, now and forever.

  8. Apollo 13:

    This clip has the added impact of being based on a true story. The movie took some license with the number of amps needed to be used, but there’s no question four men’s lives depended on a team of scientists and their ability to basically study really hard and pass an engineering test. They took on the challenge and it became one of the United States’ finest moments. Now, get to work! Failure is not an option!

  9. Any Given Sunday:

    It’s another sports movie, but you might find Coach Tony D’Amato’s statement that he and his team are “in hell” relevant to your current spot in Finals Week. Are you willing to fight and die for every last point on that test? Well, maybe not die, but study really hard and stay up really late? Just watch the clip.

  10. The Pursuit of Happyness:

    Full disclosure: we never saw this movie because the misspelling irritated our grammar Nazi sensibilities. Apparently it’s explained in the film; who knew? But we know Chris Gardner’s true-story rise from homeless man to millionaire is quite inspiring, as evidenced by this brief clip.

  11. Pool Hall Junkies:

    You might have missed this movie when it came out in 2002, but it’s worth a viewing just because Christopher Walken’s in it. Here he gives a freaked-out pool hustler who’s playing for his life the courage to go out there and win, with a probably inaccurate but classically Walken-esque story about lions. It’s too late to be scared…

  12. Tommy Boy:

    It’s not a pep talk, but it is Chris Farley screaming, cartwheeling, and hugging strangers, and who has more pep than Farley? And when you get your scores back, we’re sure this will be you, too.

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