Best high school movies to watch before graduation

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Sam Dunham

BY SAM DUNHAM (’17)

As summer approaches and the last days of high school are winding down, it seems appropriate to list some of the best coming-of-age movie classics that portray the drama, romance, suspense, heartbreak, and satanic principles of the most terrifying place on earth: high school. Truly great teen drama movies are few and far between, but when the acting, story, and dialogue all come together, a great high school movie can transcend any generation. So as all you seniors reminisce on your four years of “learning”, remember the great movies that encapsulated the experience we all have had, the kind of movies that spoke to every American teen.

“Fast Times at Ridgemont High”

What makes Fast Times so great and unique in the realm of high school movies is that it covers so many different characters and storylines. The fantastic ensemble cast features starpower such as Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Phoebe Cates as young teens at Ridgemont High School going through the uncertainties and drama of being a young adult. Director Amy Heckerling pulled no punches with her film, covering topics such as sex, drugs, and abortion. The characters are wildly diverse, from preppy to burnouts to athletes to simply guys/gals searching for their own identity. “Fast Times” delivers the silly fun and relevant themes that cements it as a film that paved the way for teen movies.

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”

While this movie certainly doesn’t spend much time in an actual high school, “Ferris Bueller” is undoubtedly one of the most iconic and beloved teen characters of all time. With summer looming and “senioritis” infecting countless students, a movie about skipping school and going out to have fun has a definite appeal. This movie is more than just mindless fun, but truly speaks to the teen generation of the 80s and today. Director John Hughes, who is renowned for his teen coming-of-age movies in the 80s and 90s, created a cultural icon in this film and taught teens everywhere that sometimes, a little rebellion and cutting loose is necessary in the life of a high schooler.

“The Breakfast Club”

There is perhaps no greater teen movie than this John Hughes classic. It seems like a simple premise: five seemingly very different high schoolers are stuck in saturday detention together for hours. However, these angsty teens soon learn to appreciate, and even love, each other and accept their differences in the school’s social hierarchy. There is little else to be said, the movie is quite simply fantastic top to bottom. The acting, which includes a rockstar cast of stars such as Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, and Judd Nelson, is stellar. The dialogue between the teenage characters is incredibly realistic for its time and very effective. John Hughes encapsulates the high school experience and social structure in one two-hour movie. “The Breakfast Club” is not just one of the greatest high school movies of all time, but one of the greatest movies of all time.