You remember how it was when summer ended and school started—a real drag, right? No doubt parents everywhere are thrilled to send the youngsters (back)packing, but for kids…it's sucky and we know it. To make going back to school slightly more bearable, here are 15 movies that'll have kids walking the halls with a smile.
Minus some heartbreak and a little pregnancy scare, Grease is a feel-good romp from beginning to end and will have you hand-jiving out the door, pumped to tackle another year of teen romance, school sports, sleepovers, dances and more. If only the entire student body would break out in song and dance at the drop of a hat, high school would be a much better place. Lesson: Seize the opportunity and go back to school baggage-free. Summer nights are summer nights - period.
Bring It On
Torrance Shipman is a high school senior, so this is her year. Not only does she get to be captain of the Rancho Carne cheerleading squad, but this is also the last time she’ll have the opportunity to help the Toros win a national title. Lesson:Bring It On; savor the opportunity and aim high like Torrance.
Searching for a boy in high school may be as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie, but at least Clueless gives you the chance to learn from Cher’s mistakes. Lesson: If you notice that your school eye candy is a “disco-dancing, Oscar Wilde-reading, Streisand ticket-holding friend of Dorothy,” it might be best to move on – even if that means testing the waters with an ex-stepbrother.
If high school were set to the tune of the Project X soundtrack, the experience would be an endless blast. Then again, many more suburban neighborhoods would likely burn to the ground, too. Lesson: You never want to be Thomas in that scenario. Find another sucker to forfeit his or her parents’ home for the night. Better yet, find a better way to get popular.
Thinking about running in the school election this year? Election can serve as campaign 101 whether you’re an unpopular overachiever like Tracy Flick or a school golden boy like Paul Metzler. Lesson: Do bake cupcakes; don’t tear down opponents’ campaign posters. Do be warm and friendly towards classmates; don’t create unnecessary scandals.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
If you’re hoping to acquire a great group of friends, The Perks of Being a Wallflower could be an excellent source of motivation. No glossy teen nonsense here, just an honest portrayal of a 15-year-old’s experience making new friends. There are some serious ups and downs along the way, but in the end, Charlie learns something valuable. Lesson: "We can’t choose where we come from, but we can choose where we go from there."
The Breakfast Club
The archetypes here have earned a negative connotation, having been used and abused on the big screen, but they’re still valid to a point. Lesson: Everyone’s got their “thing” and there’s nothing wrong with being defined by it because, when the time comes (perhaps while spending a Saturday in detention) it serves as a motivating factor to embrace and grow from.
Sugar & Spice
Dressing up in Betty costumes, brandishing some serious firepower and robbing a supermarket for the sake of helping a friend through a teen pregnancy is a major no-no, but that’s why we need movies like Sugar & Spice.Lesson: Live out all the naughty vicariously through the film, and be nice when we hit the halls for a new school year.
Can’t Hardly Wait
Can’t Hardly Wait’s got something for everyone – the Average Joe looking for love, the nerd out for revenge, the jock trying to hold on to his high school glory days, a virgin eager to put his sexual mojo to use…. But even while they’re all trying to achieve personal goals, the film is also very much about the gang coming together. Lesson: A party for a single social clique isn’t half as much fun as taking the come-one-and-all approach.
All I Wanna Do
If you don’t go to boarding school, All I Wanna Do will make you wish you did because Verena, Odie, Tinka, Tweety and Momo are a delight to spend time with. Their crusade at Miss Godard’s Preparatory School for Girls hits the ideal balance of revolting for the sake of a good time and fighting for what’s right. Lesson: Make a difference at your school in both respects.
Everyone needs a hallway god to admire. Whether your school has no football team or you just aren’t charmed by your own star players, West Canaan’s Jonathon Moxon, Lance Harbor, and Billy Bob will undoubtedly fill that void. Lesson: A required regular watch to ensure I was getting the complete school experience.
If you’re on your way to college, Pitch Perfect will have you praying your school has a brigade of über competitive a capella groups like the Barden Bellas and Treblemakers. Do a little ditty with some cups or just enjoy some Ace of Base, impromptu puking, and Treblemaker serenading from afar. Lesson: If you do opt to slap on a scarf and obey the pitch pipe, beware; nodes are real.
Got a seemingly impossible feat you’re looking to achieve this school year? Pop in Legally Blonde-- because if Elle Woods can get into Harvard Law School, anything is possible. But in all seriousness, while Elle’s achievements are a bit of a stretch, her work ethic and determination do ring true on many levels. Lesson: Put naysayers in their place by working hard and proving them wrong.
Watching Accepted before heading back to college has two benefits – it’ll get some of the silliness out of your system and also make you appreciate the system. “Rock Our Faces Off 222” and “Taking a Walk and Thinking about Stuff” are probably a blast, but are they worth all the work it takes for Bartley to get South Harmon Institute of Technology accredited? Lesson: Make sure that college you applied to really exists.
In the words of Billy Madison, “Stay here. Stay as long as you can.” And that’s probably what poor Mavis Gary is saying to every kid she meets after returning home and facing the fact that her high school social status didn’t guarantee her an equal level of success in the workplace--or life in general. Lesson: School only lasts so long, so appreciate it while you’re there.