Back to School Movies

It is that time of year when the kiddos are going back to class and learn new things that will promptly be forgotten as soon as the first major holiday break happens. For those of us without children, the end of August and beginning of September barely makes a blip on the radar other than remembering to slowdown when driving thru a school zone. Never the less, school starting feels like a holiday that must be celebrated with a nice movie marathon.

Whether it is going to high school, starting college, or gaining acceptance to a special school, these ten movies are the best way to celebrate the return of reading, writing, and arithmetic (and all the other insane drama that comes with it).

Footloose (the 1984 Original):

Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) and his mother movie from Chicago to small town Bomont to live with his aunt and uncle. In Bomont, dancing and music are banned all due to the influence of the reverend Shawn Moor (John Lithgow) after the death of his son. Ren along with the minister’s daughter, Ariel (Lori Singer), and friends decide to work together to bring back music and dancing to their town. This 80’s classic (the remake is okay, but nowhere near as awesome) is perfect for that teenage rebellion side to come out and still be a bit of a goody-goody.

Mean Girls:

16 year old Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan before the booze, drugs, and fame ruined her) is trying out school for the first time. She was homeschooled before and now that her family has moved to civilization from the bushes of Africa, she must learn to navigate the wilds of high school and the Plastics. So fetch. One of those rare teen comedies where the humor and the end message are positive. It also stands the test of time, just replace the Burn Book with Twitter and Instagram.

Pitch Perfect:

The Barden Bellas of Barden University are in a acca-rut. Their tired routine is not getting them the recognition they want and the leader, Aubrey (Anna Camp), refuses to change it, convinced it will win them Nationals. Enter freshman Beca (Anna Kendrick), a DJ wannabe forced to audition for the group when her father offers her a deal and she shakes up the group. Thru the Bellas, Beca learns college is not always about the things you learn in class, but the friends and connections you make. I was a total choir nerd in high school and this is one of my favorite movies to watch when I need a happy boost. It makes me miss the days of rehearsals and that moment you feel when you get a song right.

Fame (the 1980 original):

Following a group of students from audition to graduation from the High School of Performing Arts in New York City, this tale of trying to make it to the top is wonderfully campy as it tries to take a look at the gritty world of show business. Fair warning, you will be singing the film’s title song for days after. Avoid the remake at all costs!

Fast Times at Rigmont High:

Another 80’s ensemble look at high school, except this one takes on the drama behind the love lives of two students, Stacy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Mark (Brian Backer) and the older classmates, Linda (Phoebe Cates) and Mike (Robert Romanus) who attempt to guide them. To round out the cast, the film also follows the exploits of lovable stoner, Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn), and his teacher nemesis, Mr. Hand (Ray Walston), along with senior Brad (Judge Reinhold) whose final year is not going as awesome as he expected.

Bring it On:

At the start of her senior year, Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst) dreams come true when she is named the captain of her school’s high school cheerleading squad. The dream quickly becomes her worst nightmare as the pressures to earn a sixth consecutive national title and a brewing controversy over stolen routines threatens to derail the squad. This wonderfully hilarious movie breaks stereotypes about what it means to be a cheerleader and is a classic that every will enjoy.

Back to School:

An uneducated, self-made millionaire, Thornton Melon (Rodney Dangerfield), goes to college to prove to his son, Jason (Keith Gordon), that an education is important when the young man wants to drop out. Thornton and his son gain popularity thanks to the huge parties and large amount of generosity displayed by the wealthy businessman turned student. But Thornton’s cheating ways and disruption of class has made him a thorn in the side of the upper crust professor, Dr. Barrbay (Paxton Whitehead), who looks to get the lovable Thornton thrown out. Most people don’t enjoy Danderfield’s movies, but this one is a classic which also co-stars a young, beginning of his career Robert Downy Jr. and features cameos from Kurt Vonnegut and Oingo Boingo. Perfect movie for those who are older and going back to get their education (something I will be doing at the beginning of next year).

Sky High:

Will Stonghold (Michael Angarano) the son of the two biggest superheroes, The Commander (Kurt Russel) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston), is starting school at Sky High, a high school specifically for children with powered parents to learn to use their own abilities to save the world one day. Just one big problem, Will hasn’t developed his powers yet and is placed in Sidekick classes, much to the cringe of his superhero parents. Completely cheesy, but still a fun twist on the now almost clichéd superhero genre.

To Sir, with Love:

Image Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Image Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

A back to school movie for teachers. An unemployed engineer, Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier), accepts a teaching job in the rough East End of London. The class he has taken over is filled with students who have been rejected by other schools for their disrespectful behavior and quickly attempt to make Thackeray quit with horrible pranks. Eventually, Thackeray wins over his students by helping to teach them life skills needed in the real world while introducing them to cultural elements missing from their past education. A classic film with a great performance from Poitier that was badly copied in the 90’s with Dangerous Minds. It also has a catchy song that plays a part in the film, something else the Michelle Pfeiffer movie ripped off.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone:

Did you really think on a column about going back to school on September 1st wouldn’t include this movie? What kind of Nerd do you think I am?!? Young Harry Potter gets a letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and his life becomes a series of insane events in battling evil and making passing grades. Still waiting on my letter to come.

What movies are your favorites for going back to school? Are you waiting on your letter too? Let me know in the comments section below.

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About Nerdling

The Nerdling has an unhealthy obsession with books, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Star Wars. She finds hockey to be the best sport in the world (Go Dallas Stars!) and is working on her first novel, but mostly glowers at a blank screen. You can find her on Twitter @nerdlingstale on Facebook @NerdlingTales or Instagram @nerdling_tales

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