The school year is well underway by now, and autumn is officially here this week in the Northern Hemisphere. I’ve always been a big fan of both, and not just because of new school supplies and pretty colours. I genuinely loved university; writing essays, listening to lectures, even the stress was okay, (although I’m sure I would have argued with this statement the week that I was horribly sick and immobilized because of my approaching Ancient Greek exam). I’m long done school now so I have to live vicariously through the movies. In that spirit, here are ten of my absolute favourite movies, featuring school.
1. Accepted (2006)
Starring Justin Long and Jonah Hill, you already know this comedy will run like a bizarre SNL skit. Long plays a kid who doesn’t want to tell his parents he didn’t get accepted into any universities, so he sends himself a fake acceptance letter, from a fake university and suddenly things get out of hand. This movie is funny, totally stupid and definitely a feel-good flick. You walk away with the conviction that formal education isn’t the way to go, and everyone has a crazy, spontaneous jazz player inside of him or herself tired of being hidden away by the constraints of a society run like an assembly line. I also love Lewis Black, and he plays the school’s only faculty member.
2. Easy A (2010)
Starring Emma Stone as a good girl who accidentally starts a rumour about herself that brands her as a “harlot.” She decides to run with the stereotype until it gets out of hand (apparently things get out of hand a lot in the movies). I love this movie because it’s so ridiculous with its overzealous Church girl, and its acne covered nerds, but the message about high school, gossip, and bullying isn’t that far off. Rumours do spread incredibly fast, and a lot of people do get hurt; the movie just exaggerates how that happens. Stone is as sweet and funny as ever.
3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997)
I learned the word “campy” because of this movie. It’s so cheesy and ridiculous that you can’t help but love it. Plus, it’s a movie about a badass female vampire killer, and lead to the popular tv series of the same name done by Joss Whedon.
4. The Sure Thing (1985)
Everyone always talks about John Cusack in Say Anything, but I’ve always preferred the Sure Thing. Cusack plays Gib, and frisky college student looking for some action (if you know what I mean). His best friend is across the country in California and promises that if Gib visits him over Christmas Break, he will get to meet a super hot, wild girl, who basically gives it away. The problem is, Gib ends up carpooling with a feisty, smart girl who predictably causes a situation where things get out of hand and the two have to find a way to get to California without a car.
5. Pretty in Pink (1986)
Basically any of Molly Ringwald’s high school movies would work, but I think Pretty in Pink has the best school related lines. Movies set in high schools in the 80s were very much anti-establishment. The teachers and principals are usually very horrible people. The fashion and music though, definitely makes these worth watching.
6. School of Rock (2003)
This movie is not plausible at all. It only made the list because Jack Black is hilarious and the plot and music are so typical of his outlandish style and comedy. The kids are cute and talented, but the whole scenario (pretending to be a supply teacher, falling in love with the principal, no one noticing that the kids aren’t learning anything but rock and roll, everyone being okay with identity fraud) just wouldn’t happen.
7. Mean Girls (2004)
I added this to the list because like Easy A it’s exaggerated but realistic. Every school has a girl like Regina George, even if she’s not quite as evil as Regina. People remember how everyone notices the new kid, they remember the Art Freaks, and all the other school divisions. Honestly, I grew up in a small town so we didn’t have quite so many social groups. Also, the mean girl phase was basically over by grade 9. It was more of a middle school thing. Rachel McAdams makes the movie and Amy Poehler and Tina Fey both make appearances.
8. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
I don’t think I ever need to write anything about this movie, but it is a classic high school film. Most of it’s not even in the school, but the crazy, tyrannical principal is unforgettable. “Bueller. Bueller…”
9. Never Been Kissed (1999)
This movie came out when I was in high school and I get all nostalgic just thinking about it. Drew Barrymore plays an undercover reporter who goes back to high school and has a chance to befriend the popular crowd for the first time in her life. She falls in love with one of the teachers who thinks he has lost his mind, and will lose his job, because he’s in love with a minor. Again, this movie could never happen. The stereotypes are definitely exaggerated, but Barrymore is just so funny. Plus the prom outfits are really great.
10. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Modernized Shakespeare plays were really popular in the 90s. A lot of this movie is actually set at a high school, and it stars a young Julie Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Heath Ledger. It’s just a funny, sweet love story with the usual cast of geeks, overbearing parents, bad boys, misinformation, angsty teens, and dramatic acts of love. Probably everyone has seen it, so I’m not going to spend any more time justifying my decision to include it.
There are so many other movies set in schools, many of which are classic. If you’re really into “school” as a setting, you can also check out Remember the Titans, Mr. Holland’s Opus, Here Comes the Boom, To Sir with Love, She’s the Man, Grease, Mona Lisa Smile, The Faculty, Larry Crowne, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, or Bring It On. (A note about movies from the 80s, particularly those set in universities, so many of them are incredibly vulgar, sexist or otherwise offensive. I think it was just the 80’s).
What movies make you nostalgic for school days? Do you love any of the movies I listed? Let me know in a comment!