Mandatory Movies: 10 High School Classics When You Get Nostalgic For Simpler Times
High school wasn’t all that great for many of us, but in our memories, it was the best time of our lives. (Nostalgia is a liar.) High school did have its perks: friends, sexual exploration, and your wide-open future on the horizon. But the awkwardness, rejection, and bullying inherent in secondary education often ruined what should have been an amazing four years. Hollywood loves to glamorize, exaggerate, and fixate on this tumultuous period in our lives. These 10 movies capture the absurdity and agony of adolescence. Watch them all and remember how glad you are to have graduated.
Cover Photo: Universal Pictures
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'Dazed and Confused'
It’s the last day of high school in 1976 for a group of Texan teens, and everyone’s trying to get in one more lay, toke, bender, or hazing incident. At the center of the chaos is football star Randall "Pink" Floyd (Jason London), bully Fred O'Bannion (Ben Affleck), and dropout David Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey). What this Richard Linklater film lacks in plot, it makes up for with sincere adolescent contemplation.
'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'
A big part of a high schooler’s life is trying to get out of going to high school. Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) was our hero in this regard, and the way he tricked his parents, roused his hypochondriac friend from his sickbed, snuck his girlfriend out of class, and stole a Ferrari will forever be remembered as legendary teenage high jinks.
'The Breakfast Club'
Five Midwestern high school students land in Saturday detention together and are tasked with writing essays about themselves. Though from drastically different backgrounds, they form an unlikely bond as their share their stories with one another. This John Hughes comedy set the standard for angsty teen movies for decades to come.
Inglewood high school senior Malcom (Shameik Moore) and his friends Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) are ‘90s-obsessed nerds who have a punk band. While attending drug dealer Dom’s (A$ap Rocky) birthday party, Malcom accidentally ends up with a stash of molly and a gun. The teen trio’s attempts to deal with the contraband catapult the rest of this slick and timely comedy to its hopeful conclusion.
In this inspired-by-a-true-story film, a group of boozing and pot-smoking high school friends is rocked to the core when one of them murders his girlfriend – and shows off the body. While the teens keep this creepy crime quiet, Matt (Keanu Reeves) and Clarissa (Ione Skye Leitch) are tormented by their consciences.
Cher (Alicia Silverstone) is a triple threat: she’s pretty, popular, and rich. At her Beverly Hills high school, she uses people as projects, from fixing up two dorky teachers to revamping an unfashionable newcomer (Brittany Murphy). When her older ex-stepbrother (Paul Rudd) comes home and starts inserting himself into her life, however, Cher is forced to grow up – and confront some very adult feelings.
Los Angeles high school graduates Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) don’t exactly fit in anywhere. They’re smart but anti-social and have no plans for their future other than to live together. When the friends meet Seymour (Steve Buscemi), an older, lonely record collector, through a personal ad, Enid finds a much-needed kindred spirit.
'Can't Hardly Wait'
A graduating high school class converges at a house party where teens aspire to get laid, get revenge, and celebrate their newfound freedom.
'Fast Times at Ridgemont High'
This vulgar teen comedy follows several Southern California high school students as they navigate dating, sex, and friendship. Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a 15-year-old who wants to lose her virginity. Stoner and surfer Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) delights in getting under his teacher Mr. Hand’s skin. Brad (Judge Reinhold) loses his job and his girlfriend in quick succession. It’s a classic ‘80s adolescent shit-show.
Best friends Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) are nearing high school graduation and want to lose their virginity before starting college. When Seth’s crush, Jules (Emma Stone), invites them to a house party, he sees an opportunity to get Jules drunk and have sex with her. There’s just one problem (aside from the date rape factor): Seth said he would bring the alcohol to the party, and he’s underage. Enter Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a nerdy friend with a fake ID. Of course, nothing goes according to plan in this raunchy, misogynistic comedy from Judd Apatow.