It's already the end of September—that time of year when when school days themselves may feel crazy but it no longer feels so crazy to be back in school. Whether you're a freshman, senior, or anything in between, now is the perfect time to kick off a high school movie obsession. We here at The MindHut have just the list to get the ball rolling. So let's ring the bell—movie school's in session!
"American Graffiti" (1973)
Before chartering a new course for pop culture with "Star Wars," good ol' Georgey Lucas wrote and directed a little teen comedy called "American Graffiti." In it a group of high school seniors (among them, very youthful Ron Howard and Richard Dreyfuss) enjoy a night out on the town before separating for college. Hijinx, lessons, and a race against Harrison Ford at his dreamboatiest ensue.
Though it's not particularly accurate (one hopes) in its depiction of day-to-day life in a modern high school, "Brick" nevertheless showcases with stunning accuracy a sort of adolescent anger that's too rarely depicted in film. The story of a teenaged private investigator (Joseph Gordon Levitt) who looks into the death of his girlfriend (Emilie de Ravin) and becomes embroiled in a gang war, it manages to meld the archetypes of both high school and noir in ways both surprising and entirely too sensible.
"Fast Times At Ridgemont High" (1982)
"Fast Times At Ridgemont High" possesses the rare quality of being both indelibly linked to a particular time period while remaining oddly, idiosyncratrically timeless. The plot centers around a group of high schoolers in the early 1980s all rockily approaching adulthood. There's the young and inexperienced Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh), her unlucky older brother Brad (Judge Reinhold), the mature Linda (Phoebe Cates), iconic surfer dude Spicoli (Sean Penn), and a whole host of memorable side characters (Nicolas Cage and Forest Whitaker, both shockingly baby faced, have supporting roles). If any film deserves the descriptor of "awesome, totally awesome" it is indeed this one.
"Freaks And Geeks" (1999-2000)
We promised this list would have one TV show, and truth be told this one's a doozy. Arguably no other piece of art has explored the wondrous highs, crushing lows, and creamy middles of teenagedom with so deft a touch or authentic a perspective as "Freaks And Geeks" did. Set in a nondescript suburb of Detroit in 1980, the show follows a year in the life of "freak" Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini) and her younger "geek" brother Sam (John Francis Daley) along with their parents and the stars of every comedy film from the past seven-years (we're looking at you Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, and James Franco).
First things first: this show is hysterical. The dialogue is infinitely quotable, and though physical comedy is a rarer find within "Freaks'" 18-episodes, when it is used its used with laser sharp precision. But ultimately more important to the show's character than its sense of humor is its sense of empathy. There are moments of unbelieveable cruelty suffered upon the protagonists of "Freaks and Geeks" by their peers, but even the basest of characters are given moments to prove their essential decency and worth. Viewers may never completely warm to bully Alan but they will come to understand him. It's the show's overarching kindness that makes it more affecting than just about any dramedy from the past twenty-years. It's certainly what makes it unique.
What are your favorite movies about high school?