It’s the heart of spring break season, and school is probably the last thing on your mind. So why not escape into an alternate world and have a little film festival with some of our other favorite high school characters? In no particular order, we give you a roundup of five of our favorite school-themed movies. (Pass the popcorn!)
Easy A (2010)
What it’s about: Emma Stone plays sort-of-wallflower Olive Penderghast, who accidentally develops a risqué reputation after helping a friend out. She confronts the high school gossip ring head-on by adopting her own version of The Scarlet Letter label.
Why we love it: By taking The Scarlet Letter’s plot out of the 17th century and into the 21st, this clever comedy will relate to anyone who’s been the victim of the ruthless high school rumor mill. Plus, Emma Stone (as Olive) gives us a smart and sassy lead character we love to love.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
What it’s about: Based on the book of the same title, this recent movie tells the story of Charlie—who’s new to high school, but not the stress of adolescence. Recovering from his own recent hospitalization and mental health issues, he stumbles upon the “wallflowers” (including Emma Watson) that become his friends and greatest source of support.
Why we love it: This film isn’t afraid to get serious, tackling mental health, trauma, sexual orientation and bullying with sensitivity and nuance. And fine, we admit we like seeing the former Hermione Granger as a high school student (minus the magic wand).
Stand and Deliver (1988)
What it’s about: This drama set in inner-city Los Angeles is about educational barriers. And inspirational teaching. And, well, math. It traces the real-life story of math teacher Jaime Escalante and his quest to challenge his students to live up to their full academic potential.
Why we love it: For starters, it’s based on a true story. And for anyone who’s ever felt shortchanged or underestimated by their community, it’s gratifying to watch a teacher in action who goes the extra mile.
What it’s about: Cher Horowitz is your typical teenage girl. As if! No, she’s an uber-wealthy, debate-loving socialite with good intentions. As she meddles in the lives of others, she learns about herself, what she wants and how to—as she says in the movie—“make over her soul.”
Why we love it: As with Easy A, we love a clever update on a classic story. In this case, it’s Emma, by Jane Austen. And beneath the comedy, wealth and never-ending wardrobe, the movie makes shrewd observations about high school cliques, teenage love, judging others and what it truly means to be a better person.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
What it’s about: Five students from wildly different backgrounds show up for Saturday detention. There’s the jock, the brain, the basket case, the princess and the criminal. As the day progresses, they delve beyond stereotypes and come to know one another.
Why we love it: Search for the best teen movies in history, and you’re guaranteed to see this classic at the top of the list. And it’s no wonder. This movie uses just one setting and one day to say practically everything there is to say about the high school social system, while tackling issues like parental pressure, authority and adolescent isolation. Chances are you’ve seen this one, so see it again.
The best teen movies take an everyday teen experience and make it speak volumes. Like this scene from The Breakfast Club, which sums up high school stereotypes through the simple act of…eating lunch.
What’s your favorite school-themed movie? Why? Will you be watching any over spring break?
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