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September 7, 2016
By Cailey Gleeson
There have been countless films made throughout cinematic history that attempt to capture the true essence of one’s days spent in high school. Directors like John Hughes—who was the mastermind behind countless beloved films such as Sixteen Candles—have become synonymous with the ‘teen’ genre.
Like any genre, the focus of these films evolves with the needs and problems of the intended audience. Despite the changes of each, the themes of first love, rebellion, angst and coming of age—to name a few—will always fit within teen films.
This is one of the reasons why these types of movies are so successful. Even though a teen in 2016 watching a movie from the 1980s will definitely have significant differences from the characters, they will be able to relate to at least one aspect of the film.
While any number of these could resonate with teens, only a select few of these films reach cult status and ultimately end up defining a generation. Here are the top five films about high school that all teens should watch at least once—or a few hundred times.
1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The 2012 film adaption of Stephen Chbosky’s cult classic novel is a must see for all teens. It perfectly encapsulates the struggles faced by high school students from all walks of life—from friendship to drug and alcohol experimentation. Not only is the plot incredible, the characters are brought to life by a talented cast—including Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller. It’s a quintessential film about the pressures placed on teenagers from the moment they enter high school to the end.
2. The Breakfast Club
Who would’ve thought a film about a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal would perfectly capture high school life? John Hughes completely hit the mark with this film for a variety of reasons. For one, it features ‘80s heartthrobs Judd Nelson and Emilio Estevez. It also touches upon a dreaded aspect of school in general: Saturday detention. Furthermore, the film explores the complicated world of high school relationships. Most importantly; however, the film exposes how stereotypes are often completely wrong. By the end of this movie, you’ll be in such awe that you’ll find yourself raising your fist to “Don’t You Forget About Me” as the credits roll—it’s that good.
3. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Yet another John Hughes movie makes the list. If you’ve seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, you’ll know that it barely takes place in school—but experiencing the wild adventures of the troublesome trio is essentially a rite of passage for any teen. Not only are their zany antics around downtown Chicago hilarious, the subplots of Ferris (Matthew Broderick) and Cameron’s (Alan Ruck) relationships with their family members give the film a quasi-serious tone. While this film shouldn’t encourage anyone to cut class, it’s a reminder that everyone needs a break from the stresses of life once in a while.
4. Easy A
Even though you’ll probably never encounter a situation like the plot of this film, Easy A is an essential commentary for anyone in high school. The film explores the troubles every teen will encounter one time or another while in high school—especially bullying. The characters in this film are targeted by for a variety of reasons, but the recurring theme is their sexuality—which is definitely an issue many teens face throughout their time in high school. That’s where Olive (Emma Stone) comes in and ends up being an unlikely hero—donning corsets with a scarlet letter sewed on—and ultimately changes the perspective of her many conservative classmates.
5. Mean Girls
This movie is so fetch—seriously. Tina Fey’s iconic comedy starring Lindsay Lohan is a must see for all teens. While lines like “Get in loser, we’re going shopping” are one of the biggest reason for this film’s cult status, it also offers important lessons—like on Wednesdays pink is the only color that should be worn. In all seriousness, the film actually has important lessons embedded within the comedic plot. It emphasizes that being popular in high school shouldn’t be the most important to a teen—contrary to what many believe. The film aims to remind teens that that if they wants to be “popular,” then they should just be themselves within their own group of friends.
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