In search of something light and fluffy, I saw “Easy A” this week and was pleasantly surprised. I hadn’t read anything about the film ahead of time, and was happy to discover it wasn’t the god-awful movie I thought it would be about a girl sleeping with teachers for good grades. Quite to the contrary, it focused on a girl struggling with her journey from invisibility to notoriety thanks to a vicious rumor mill. This generically original plot and the sassy dialogue got me wanting to watch the flick again, and this inspired me to make a list of high school movies that are worth second, third and thirtieth viewings.
- “Mean Girls” (2004) – As a formerly home-schooled girl struggles to find her place in the food chain of her new public school, we all have a chance to laugh and cringe at how awful high school is, was and always will be. With a screenplay by Tina Fey and the priceless comedic timing that reminds us why Lindsay Lohan became famous, this flick has just the right balance of suspense, soul and silliness to keep me watching it again and again.
- “Bring It On” (2000) – It’s rare that a head cheerleader seems relatable let alone human, but fresh dialogue and the depiction of cheerleading as an actual sport will make you shout “Rah, rah!” for this movie’s protagonist. In addition, a ballsy take on race and class combined with a gripping sports-movie-esque structure will keep you on the edge of your seat viewing after viewing.
- “The Breakfast Club” (1985) and “Sixteen Candles” (1984) – Although these John Hughes classics are known for their portrayal of the 1980s, the social pressures and teenage dreams of their memorable characters ring true today. If you’ve never seen these gems, I recommend watching them in the above order, because the somber tone of the detention hall in “The Breakfast Club” is best followed with a chaser of the laugh-out-loud humor in “Sixteen Candles.”
- “Easy A” (2010) – Ever wonder what it takes to go from invisible to infamous? Well, this movie follows a high schooler who experiences this transformation the hard way after a false rumor is spread about her sex life. Our heroic little lady refuses to take this slander lying down, however, and her attempts to capitalize on her newfound notoriety yield some great laughs. As if that weren’t enough to get you interested, Stanley Tucci plays a hilarious bit character worth the price of admission alone.
- “Can’t Hardly Wait” (1998) – A guy trying to woo his long-time crush amidst a raucous graduation party? This doesn’t sound like such a smart idea, but neither do most things people do in high school, so I promise you’ll suspend your disbelief while watching. You’ll also laugh and swoon along with the multi-character cast of stereotypes and archetypes as you vicariously experience one last hoorah of high school.
Psst: Would different high school movies make your top-five list? I tried to single out the flicks I feel have the best balance of heart and humor, but would your criteria be different for this genre? (Some notable pictures I left off due to my criteria include “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “American Pie.” Care to make a case for either of these?)