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Top 10 High School Movies

February 24th, 2010 in Articles by Josh

High school looks so brilliant, with its jocks, its nerds, its cheerleaders. Nothing like school back in Blighty, where the only thing that defines different clans is the size of the knot in their school ties. Where’s the extravagance? Where are the road trips? Why can’t we have big brass bands playing music during kick-abouts?

The only inner journey of note for an English schoolboy is the grueling bus home, which holds the constant threat of suddenly disappearing under a dust cloud of rampant ASBO fists. Yeah, man, school in England sucks. American high school rocks! Hence, as an homage to our friends across the pond, here are the greatest ten films about their education system…

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Unless you were the enemy, you’ll remember that horrible shrinking feeling of being not quite as great looking, or wealthy, or stylish as some of the other kids at school. In your defense, you were also therefore much less of a total bastard/bitch. And look at them now, driving around in their cars, with their brilliant jobs, their four holidays and year, and their beautiful wives/husbands. Yeah, unfortunately, real life does little to halt these berks in their stratospheric rise to the top of the food chain. Hence why movies like Heathers are still such a delightful treat. Christian Slater does his finest Jack Nicholson impersonation, as he and Winona Ryder decide to take out some of the more loathsome characters at school. Devilish stuff.

Dazed and Confuzed

HIGH SCHOOL Dazed and Confused

Over in the UK, the last day of school is a rather flaccid affair. The brave ones might tell a couple of teachers to get knotted, while the rest of us silently shake hands, and retreat home to drink five ciders and weep into a pillow. It’s rather less than extravagant. Unlike over in America, where those cats go wild! Dazed and Confused chronicles the last day of school in the Summer of 1976, which basically means that everyone is driving around, getting a little bit toasted on the good stuff, attempting to find a good spot to party. Cue big barrels of brewski, a tearful fight, and plenty of rampant snogging, US style.

The Breakfast Club

HIGH SCHOOL The Breakfast Club

Quite probably John Hughes’ finest hour and a half, The Breakfast Club finds Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, and Judd Nelson all career peaking, whilst Molly Ringwald puts in the second finest performance of her career. It’s the story of a geek, a twit, a prom thing, a doofus, a goth, a hippy, a dimwit, a douche bag, a moron, a stupid face, a nomark, a male model, a twunt, and a numb-nuts all sitting around through a long Saturday detention, attempting to figure out how they will ever get along. In the end, of course, they come together and rally against the common enemy – teachers! Sticking it to the man has never felt so magnificent.



Don’t be fooled by the sparkle of the television series that followed, the original movie of Fame was pretty gritty. Yes, there were moments when these impressionable young singers and dancers broke out into routines – at one point famously taking things to the streets. But the undercurrent of the whole thing is bleak. They deal with abortion, near-rape experiences, drugs, a flame-haired young man with confusing sexuality issues. It’s like a late night episode of Hollyoaks turned up to 11, with DANCING. A brilliant, brilliant film.

American Pie

HIGH SCHOOL American Pie

One of the classic high school jaunts, American Pie rises above the Porky’s, thanks to it being considerably funnier. Both films find a gaggle of high schoolers trying to get laid, but American Pie tackles the whole thing with a touch of tenderness and sophistication. Seriously. That said, along the way, there are scenes of accidental male sperm ingestion, a brutal sexual assault on an apple pie, and the term MILF is coined for public consumption. Stand out characters include Eugene Levy as Jim’s dad, the rather sophisticated Paul Finch, and The Shermanator.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off


The second of three John Hughes films to make the top ten, this chronicles a remarkably well-planned skive from school, which results in art galleries, carnivals, and a mangled car. It also features Baby from Dirty Dancing playing out of character as a total bitch. Mathew Broderick was never this good again, and days playing truant were never this good – a more realistic take on things would have found Ferris sitting in front of a Kyle and Trisha double bill, before spending the entire afternoon rifling through his own underpants. It also has the added bonus of Mia Sara, one of our many forgotten beauties.



And again, the story of a small group of high school students on the quest for sex. Like American Pie, the key difference here is that it’s funny and tender in equal measure. Above relationships with girls, it focusses on the tender bromance between two best friends, as has become the staple in Judd Apatow movies. Plus it has a little more in the canon, in the form of McLovin – the geeky sideshow character, who gets to ride with the police – and it boasts a surprisingly excellent soundtrack. George Michael from Arrested Development is particularly good in it as well.

Pretty In Pink

HIGH SCHOOL Pretty in Pink

Ringwald’s tour du force. She plays a poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks, who has to make do with crafting her own wardrobe from old curtains and bits of scrap metal, falling in love with a socialite called Blane – played by the hamster-cheeked Andrew McCarthy. Cue a Romeo and Juliet-like tale of love against the odds, as Blane‘s sneering rich kid buddies repeatedly refer to her in dustbin terms, sometimes even to her face! All the while her wacky best male friend is attempting to do a botched-up wooing job of his own, but with little success. As well as Ringwald, James Spader plays a blinder as a smooth talking feathery-haired toff called Steff.

Peggy Sue Got Married


Make no mistake about it, we are enormous Kathleen Turner fans, and this is by far her best time traveling high school film – so good that it just managed to keep Back To The Future out of the top ten. Turner plays Peggy Sue, a bitter soon-to-be divorcee who passes out at a high school reunion, and ends up back in time at high school. There, she decides to relive her younger years, only this time, she’s going to get things right. She dates a pretentious beatnik, makes friends with some nerdy bloke, and then ends up getting together with the bastard she was about to divorce anyway. From the director of The Godfather.



It was always going to be a very close battle for the final spot on the list, and Election just ousted Grease, Napolean Dynamite, Rushmore, and Scream at the very last minute. Reese Witherspoon is a politician in the making, running for High School President, whilst Matthew Broderick has gone from Bueller to teacher. It’s a rather weird, quirky film, and Witherspoon, despite her Oscar a few years later, gives the performance of her career so far. A deserving, and rather appropriate, number 10.

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Author: Josh

Josh has spent ten years plying his wares as a journalist, working for some big names, and some rather small ones too. His is the giant throbbing brain that came up with this whole Interestment malarkey. Specialist subjects include: some types of music, a few films, certain television programmes, and hats.

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