As it is graduation season, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the high school experience and how it is captured in film.
To my mind, far too many movies set in high school are soaked in alcohol, sex, and drugs. It is hard for me to relate because that wasn't my high school experience. Maybe I just didn't get invited to the cool parties, but I find that those movies usually miss out on the either the intense drama of high school or its utter absurdity.
So here are the Top Ten Movies about High School from the students' perspective (next week's will be from the teacher's point of view).
- High School Musical.I know that this is an overly sweet and sugary take on that time, but it does deal with the heart of finding yourself and breaking through your defined boundaries. And I am not ashamed to admit that I think music is very well-written with fantastic choreography by Kenny Ortega
This movie is like a little window into the youth culture of the early '90's. It was fun and silly.
8. Ordinary People
While this movie is more about the broken family at its center, it also captures the emotional fragility of high school. When Timothy Hutton finally finds someone he can bare his soul to, her inattentiveness stings so badly and her smallest slight cause him great distress.
One of the best things about this movie is how it shows the main characters think of themselves above the common high school crowd, only to find that they are just as petty and short-sighted as the ones they judge. How often do the outsiders trash the popular kids and convince themselves that they are not as immature? Using a big vocabulary does not make you wise.
6. Pump Up the Volume
This is a movie that grasps the catharsis of high school rebellion. When you are that age, so much of life seems unfair and one-sided. This movie gave a voice (albeit a very vulgar one) that could vent those frustrations and, for lack of a better word, angst to a sympathetic audience.
5. Some Kind of Wonderful
This is the best high school movie that navigates that strange territory of friendship, crushes, and romance. It captures the intensity and confusion of it all in a way that is honest and not pandering
4.Ferris Bueller's Day Off
This is the ultimate day-dream fantasy of an ideal high school life. John Hughes was great at capturing the real high school experience, but he also knew our secret hopes and wishes and he put them onto the big screen in this movie.
3. Can't Hardly Wait
There is nothing in this movie that is too terribly deep. But my goodness, is it a fun time. So much of high school life, reflected in the 6 main characters rang true, and because of that it also hit my funny bone.
- American GraffitiLike Can't Hardly Wait, it is a single night at the end of high school with interlocking stories. But George Lucas also caught the conflict of moving on verses leaving behind. How do you say goodbye to your high school friends? Should you? Can you?
- The Breakfast ClubNo surprise here. This movie is still as relevant today as it was in the '80's. As I wrote one before on this movie, the 5 main characters are not stereotypes. They are archetypes. That is why the resonate so deeply even 30 years later. No high school movie comes close.