Recently, everywhere I turn I feel like I have someone in the midst of a quarter life crisis is crashing into me and word vomiting. Which is totally cool, I'm not upset about it at all, I've so been there myself, I get it. Clearly, Mercury is in retrograde or something. Ever since I was a little girl, TV and movies have been my OG BFFs. IMO they can be life's greatest teachers. I decided to round-up some of my favorite films for laughing, crying, and feeling a little less alone during the quarter life crisis. These are the movies that helped me when I was feeling lost in life and I highly recommend watching them too when you feel lost. While some of these do focus on people a little past their twenties (I feel like if they watched these, they could've skipped their 30-something crisis) and some are high school based, but isn't that when our existential crisis starts? Anyway, enjoy these movies about adulting and figuring out what to do when you don't know what to do with your life.
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31 Quarter Life Crisis Movies:
“So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.”
You know that feeling after graduation where you begin to panic, feel like the walls are closing in because this. can't. be. it. Yeah, you're not alone.
Good Will Hunting
“You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.”
Feeling undervalued, underpaid, and crushed under life? You're not alone! Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is basically a genius working as a janitor at MIT. He solves a difficult graduate level problem, a teacher takes interest in him, and his therapist becomes the great Robin Williams, need I say more?
“It’s like I was playing some kind of game, but the rules don’t make any sense to me. They’re being made up by all the wrong people.”
You've graduated at the top of your class, now what?
“Aura would like you to know that she’s having a very, very hard time.”
A Pre-Girls Lena Dunham wrote in and stars in this one. After graduation she moves back in with her mother and sister in NYC. She can't find a job, and is every other millennial who feels lost in her 20s, while everyone around her seems to be figuring it all out.
Into the Wild
“When you want something in life, you just gotta reach out and grab it.”
After graduating from the top of his class at Emory University Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch), opts to take the road less traveled. He turns turn the prestigious and profitable career path waiting for him, and instead donates his savings to charity, get's rid of his possessions and journeys into the Alaskan Wilderness.
In A World
“Dani: I'm not going to have an argument about whether we're having a goddamn argument or not, right?
Moe: That's the only kind of argument I know how to have.”
If you have family dysfunction, feeling like an underachiever, or facing sexism in the workplace sound like you, then you can probably relate to this one! A vocal coach finds herself in competition with her successful father in an industry that just isn't ready for women.
Dead Poets Society
“You must strive to find your own voice because the longer you wait to begin the less likely you are to find it all.”
A classic from the late and great Robin Williams, who plays an English teacher that pushes the envelope with his unorthodox ways. Ultimately he challenges his students to break out the tiny boxes they've been trapped in and seize the day! Particularly helpful if you feel like you are trapped in someone else's life RN.
“I didn't know where I was going until I got there.”
While this movie isn't about someone in a quarter life crisis (actually it's a mid-life crisis I'd say), I think there's still some gems for the QLC. Especially since the experiences that push Strayed to go on this journey are those we can experience at any age (the loss of a mother and ending of a marriage). She sets out alone to hike one of the country's longest and toughest trails. After the loss of her mother, ending of her marriage, and what she finds isn't what she expected.
Up in the Air
“How much did they pay you to give up on your dreams?”
The age-old tale of a twenty-something with loads of passion and fresh ideas going to head-to-head with an old-timer employee stuck in his ways. Especially for those new in the workforce, there are tons of lessons to learn.
The Fault In Our Stars
“That's the thing about pain. It demands to be felt”
Two teenage cancer patients facing death, fall in love and embark on a great adventure.
“There are no two words in the english language more harmful than ‘good job.'”
I'm not usually a fan of movies based around music, but this was so inspiring. I think it's an important look at how mentors aren't necessary perfect or who we want them to be, and we all have our demons and need to overcome them to achieve greatness.
“You’ll meet them all again on their long journey to the middle.”
A touching coming of age story of a young boy who joins a rock tour.
Away We Go
“I think we might be F*#$ ups.”
A couple expecting their first child, travel across the country ISO the “perfect” place to raise their growing family. Another tale of having to let go of other's people's opinions and the dreams they've pinned on you to find yourself and your own dreams.
“Dark times lie ahead of us, and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”
All of the movies and books are about growing up and overcoming the odds. They literally have everything, relationships, feeling lost, finding yourself, and so much more. Basically, the best story ever.
500 Days of Summer
“People change. Feelings change. It doesn’t mean that the love once shared wasn’t true and real. It simply just means that sometimes, when people grow, they grow apart.”
Yes, it's a rom-com but it's also so much more. In our twenties it's easy to pin our future on someone else and lose our sense of self. Relationships and feelings can be messy and a rollercoaster, and there's always something to learn.
“If you can’t laugh at yourself, life is going to seem a whole lot longer than you’d like…What do you do? You laugh, you know. I’m not saying I don’t cry, but in between, I laugh.”
The OG movie for a quarter life crisis IMO. I literally can't even tell you the number of times I've seen this movie. The number of hours I've cried, laughed, and felt not alone when watching. Two people in their own quarter life crises, overcoming the past and death and transitioning into new skin.
…also I basically was beyond in love with Zach Braff and this one time he put his arm around me, took a selfie, and called me “sweetie” and I died…
Devil Wears Prada
“I love my job. I love my job. I love my job.”
Hate your job? Perfect, watch this and count your blessings!
Silver Linings Play Book
“You have to do everything you can. You have to work your hardest and if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining.”
A recent divorcee spends some time in a mental institution, only to be released back into his parents home. In order to rediscover himself, he has to navigate the world of mental health, love and loss.
Scott Pilgrim VS. The World
“Why does everything have to be so complicated.”
On the surface, this comedy focuses on a boy chasing the heart of a girl. However, it has so much more to do with the people and fights we are all going to face in our twenties. Every co-worker, ex lover, or boss we meet has his/her own baggage. We have to overcome understand that and find a way to work with them or overcome the struggles in order to deeper relationships with them or grow into the person we are meant to be.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
“I'm always anxious thinking I'm not living my life to the fullest, you know? Taking advantage of every possibility?”
A couple undergoes a procedure to erase the other from their memories. A haunting look at the intricacies of relationships and pain of loss, and how they can lead to a new self discovery.
“The only thing I hate more than the present is nostalgia for the past.”
You will definitely recognize some faces in this group of friends in their twenties who come together after one of them attempts suicide.
“You can't change your situation, the only thing you can choose is how you choose to deal with it.”
Inspired by a true story, a young man finds he has cancer with a 50/50 chances of survival. His best friend and mother don't handle it while, while he tries to remain upbeat.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
“When in doubt break boundaries.”
Walter Mitty is feeling stuck in the monotony in his job, with only his day dreams to escape. Until one day he goes on the adventure of a lifetime that he never imagined…
“As much as life can suck, it always beats the alternative.”
While this movie takes place in high school, it's wise beyond it's years and tackles some these that most of us face during our quarter life crisis. The shy boy across the street, goes out for the night of his life with the most popular girl. The next day she disappears. He and his friends go on a search to find her.
Breakfast at Tiffany's
“You call yourself a free spirit, a “wild thing,” and you're terrified somebody's gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you're already in that cage. You built it yourself.”
The infamous Holly Golightly is trying to make it on her own as a twenty-something in NYC. She struggles to pay the bills, find love, and find a place that feels like home (beyond Tiffany's).
“One day your life will flash before you eyes. Make sure it's worth watching.”
Two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die. While it obviously doesn't focus on people in their twenties, I think it's an important reminder that life is short and you have to make time to do all the things you want to do.
“I'm such a failure.”
Amy is a recent grad who believes she is destined for greatness. Her histrionic ways may be an over the top portrayal of all that's wrong with millennials, but it's not far off to the struggle many of us face. Watch the movie.
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“We all make choices in life. The hard thing is to live with them.”
A man so desperate for success, steals another mans work and passes it off as his own. At the height of his success, his mistakes come back to haunt him.
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion
“That's it! We can go to the reunion and just pretend to be successful. I mean, who's gonna know? They're in Tucson. We're here.”
Two women with lackluster careers, relationships, and lives go back attend their high school reunion only to learn what really matters in life.
The Edge of Seventeen
“I had the worst thought: I've got to spend the rest of my life with myself.”
A movie about what it feels like to be lonely with great acting and comedic relief. Probably one of my favorites on this list.
Ingrid Goes West
“I'm tired of pretending I'm like someone I'm not”
In the age of Instagram and comparison traps, you'll definitely want to watch this movie about a stalker who sets out to befriend and Instagram star. It's dark, it's funny, and a little scary to realize the times we are living in.
List of 31 Movies For Your Quarter Life Crisis About Adulting
- Into the Wild
- The Fault In Our Stars
- 500 Days of Summer
- Garden State
- Devil Wears Prada
- Almost Famous
- Office Space
- Good Will Hunting
- The Graduate
- Silver Linings Play Book
- About Alex
- Adult World
- Tiny Furniture
- Breakfast at Tiffany's
- Bucket List
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- The Words
- In A World
- Dead Poets Society
- Away We Go
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
- Up in the Air
- Harry Potter
- Scott Pilgrim VS. The World
- Paper Towns
- Romy and Michele's High School Reunion
- Edge of Seventeen
- Ingrid Goes West
Originally published 09/07/18; Updated 05/25/2020