Today's popular teen flicks would have never existed without the high school classics that made and shaped the genre. What makes a great high school movie is the legacy they've made on generations of teenagers, despite the decade they grew up in. These are the movies with the unforgettable characters, witty lines, and the feeling of being forever young. They say high school is supposed to be the best four years of your life, and with these films you can relive those days over and over again.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
"Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you're crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us… in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…a princess…and a criminal. Does that answer your question?"
"The Breakfast Club" is widely considered to be THE film that defines the high school movie genre. The story revolves around five high school students from different cliques (played by Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall and Ally Sheedy) sentenced to spend a Saturday in detention, only to find out that they have a lot more in common than expected. Whether you were the star football player or chess club president in high school, anyone can relate to one of the members in "The Breakfast Club."
The movie starts off with petty teen problems like image and popularity and then goes on to focus on bigger issues, such as having insecurities, feeling misunderstood, and getting pressure from parents and peers. We fell in love with the group as they pulled crazy antics under the watchful eye of Principal Vernon. "The Breakfast Club" remains to be memorable in the hearts of our inner teenager.
Written by Cameron Crowe and directed by Amy Heckerling, (both of whom would later be known for other coming-of-age films, Almost Famous and Clueless), "Fast Times" summed up the eventful school year of its students. The movie touched base on just about every teenage dilemma under the sun. Who could forget Sean Penn as surfer pot head Jeff Spicoli as he had a pizza delivered to him during class? Then there's the scene that made Phoebe Cates famous as she climbed out of the pool in her red bikini. Her performance as Brad's (Judge Reinhold) sexual fantasy made a place for itself in pop culture history. If your high school years weren't exciting, you could always enroll at Ridgemont High.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
"Life goes by pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
If anyone knew how to play hooky, it was definitely Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick). Sit down and take notes because Bueller has mastered the art of taking the day off. Ferris was the MVP of playing sick and cutting school. But instead of staying home, Ferris went out with his girl (Mia Sara) and best friend (Alan Ruck) in a Ferrari and spent the day exploring Chicago. What makes this all amazing? Even with a resentful sister (Jennifer Grey) and a crazy Dean (Jeffrey Jones) on his trail trying to put a stop to his antics, Ferris pulls it all off with out getting caught. Fine work Mr. Bueller, we applaud you.
Sixteen Candles (1984)
"I can't believe this. They f***ing forgot my birthday."
Before MTV started airing "My Super Sweet Sixteen," not everyone was lucky to have a big soirée. Just ask Samantha Baker. Starring the original teen queen, Molly Ringwald, "Sixteen Candles" is about Samantha and her very forgettable sixteenth birthday. What else could ruin her day? Maybe getting groped by her grandmother or having a foreign exchange student tag along by her side. Perhaps Farmer Ted, played by Anthony Michael Hall, showing her panties to a bunch of freshmen. No matter how horrible of a birthday it was, all was forgotten as she got to spend it at the end with hot guy Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling).
Dazed and Confused (1993)
"Now me and my loser friends are gonna head out to buy Aerosmith tickets. Number 1 priority of the summer."
Named after the song by Led Zeppelin, "Dazed and Confused" took us back into the 1970s to every student's favorite time of the year: the last day of school. We got to watch as incoming freshmen got the hazing welcome mat and seniors were worshiped. Then there was Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey) who loved his high school years so much, he stuck around even after graduating. Another plus to the film is the killer sound track featuring music by KISS, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Aerosmith.
Everyone was afraid of the future after the four years came to an end. After high school is adulthood, responsibilities, and making serious decisions. In one night, the crew of "American Graffiti" lived it up before they headed into the real world. The film showed the bittersweet realization that childhood needs to be left behind in order to grow up.
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
"I woke up this morning, you know... and the sun was shining, and it was nice, and all that type of stuff. And the first thing, I saw you, and, uh, I said, 'Boy, this is gonna be one terrific day, so you better live it up, because tomorrow you'll be nothing.' You see? And I almost was."
A teen high school movie wouldn't be complete without the mysterious and misunderstood bad boy. James Dean as new kid Jim Stark set the example and paved the way for other famous teen rebels like John Travolta as Danny Zuko in Grease and the late Heath Ledger as Patrick Verona in 10 Things I Hate About You. Teenage angst at its finest, "Rebel Without a Cause" is a true classic.
American Pie (1999)
"We'll just tell your mother that... we ate it all."
"American Pie" succeeded at making the awkwardness and frustration of losing one's virginity hilarious. It's truly one of the best high school films of the 1990s. "American Pie" revolves around four guys eager to have their first sexual experience by prom night. Lord knows we'll never look at an apple pie the same ever again. It was in this movie we were introduced to MILF Stifler's mom (Jennifer Coolidge) and learned a thing or two about what really goes on at band camp.
"It has nothing to do with Satan, Mama. It's me. Me. If I concentrate hard enough, I can move things."
Now if you were the bully in high school, you may want to think twice on who you pick on. You'll never know what they're capable of doing. The ultimate revenge of the nerd, Carrie (Sissy Spacek) uses her telekinetic powers to get back at the popular kids who pour pigs blood on her at the prom. Be careful of who you mess with ladies and gentlemen. If you need a reminder, watch the clip below.
"It's one thing to want someone out of your life, but it's another thing to serve them a wake-up cup full of liquid drainer."
"Mean Girls" could never compare to the Heathers who originated the "It" girl clique. Lindsay is no match up to Winona Ryder and her drain cleaner laced morning beverage, which took down the queen bee and killed her. By making her death look like she killed herself and other murder incidents of other popular kids, suicide becomes the newest trend for the "in" crowd. It's one of Ryder's earlier and best roles of her career.