The end of summer has arrived. Fall is officially here and kids all over have returned to school for yet another year of learning. This time of year has got us at Fan Fest thinking about the never-ending list of incredibly awesome and classic high school-themed movies that have been made throughout the years. As such, we thought we’d take a look at these films over the years and rank The Top 10 Best High School Movies of All Time. Each movie below explored the hilarity, the awkwardness and the life lessons which we all experienced in high school. Check out our top 10 and see if your favorite ranks on the list.
Warning, the following list may make you nostalgic for homeroom hi-jinks and Saturday morning detention! Read on at your own risk.
10- Heathers (1988): Starring Christian Slater, Winona Ryder and Shannen Doherty, Heathers is a dark comedy and basically the ultimate anti-happy 80’s teen movie. The film’s take on high school issues is dark, dirty and, at times, down right violent with a depiction of high school cliques that is purely evil. Giving us such awesome quotable lines as, “What’s your damage, Heather!?” and “F*ck me gently with a chainsaw,” the film is the ultimate high school revenge flick, if you are totally (and we mean, totally) twisted. Ps. Rumor has it that a pilot was ordered for an upcoming remake of the film as a series on TVLand. Lick it up, baby. Lick… it… up….
9- Footloose (1984): Footloose is a high school film that has everything! Cliques, bullies, underdogs, controlling parents, and that one epic ending dance scene that totally tears up the town. Kevin Bacon stars as Ren, the new kid in town who is having a tough time fitting in. His character falls in love with the preacher’s daughter and takes on the adult authority figures in order to fight for the kids’ right to party! Complete with an awesome 80’s soundtrack and Kevin Bacon’s killer dance moves, Footloose deals with overcoming bullying, fighting for what you believe in and falling in love, all things that every high school kid has certainly dealt with at one time or another.
8- Can’t Hardly Wait (1998): The best part about high school is the end of the year blow out party! Can’t Hardly Wait follows the typical cast of high school characters (a nerd, a jock, a hopeless romantic, the prom queen, etc) throughout that final epic night. Old friends reconnect, new relationships are formed, high school drama ensues. With a cast of popular late ’90’s stars such as Jennifer Love Hewitt, Seth Green and Ethan Embry, Can’t Hardly Wait takes you on a journey of the last night of high school and the first night of the rest of their lives.
7- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986): We all know this film and we all wanted to be Ferris Bueller (played by Matthew Broderick); the slick kid in high school who can get away with anything, even having the most epic day EVER after calling out “sick”. From cruising around in that hot red Ferrari to singing on a float in a parade, this film became the standard for which all senior cut days tried to live up to.
6- Grease (1978): Grease, at its core, is a story about teenage love in the 1950’s. Olivia Newton-John as Sandy and John Travolta as Danny brought a teenage ‘Summer Lovin’ romance to life in this classic musical film. After their amazing summer fling, Danny, the leader of the T-Birds and Sandy, who begins to hang out with the Pink Ladies, part ways when school starts. When the two discover that they are attending the same school, there is a lot of debate over whether they can still be together since it’s uncool for Danny’s image to be in love with a goody-goody like Sandy. But, we all know, they really “go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong.”
5- 10 Things I Hate About You (1999): Adapted from Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, new kid Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is head over heels for popular sophomore Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik), but Bianca’s overprotective father forbids her to date anyone unless her older, sister Kat (Julia Stiles) is dating as well. The shit hath hittith the fan…..ith. However, when model/pretty boy Joey Donner (Andrew Keegan) also wants to date Bianca, he enlists the help of senior Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) to attempt to win Kat’s heart. I mean, who didn’t totally swoon when Heath Ledger’s character sang ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You’ over the athletic field sound system?! RIP Heath!
4- Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982): Fast Times at Ridgemont High helped launch the careers of 80’s superstars Jennnifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, Judge Reinhold, Sean Penn and more. A little different from the other films on this list, Fast Times follows a group of Southern California high school students who are enjoying some subjects not taught in high school: sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, all the while making life changing discoveries about friendship and love.
3- Mean Girls (2004): Tina Fey’s Mean Girls took a hilarious (yet semi truthful) look at high school girl culture. Cady Heron (played by Lindsay Lohan) is a new girl in school who eventually becomes friends with Regina George (Rachel McAdams), leader of The Plastics and Queen Bee of the school. When Cady makes the mistake of falling for Aaron Samuels, Regina’s ex-boyfriend, and Cady begins a covert operation to sabotage the popular Plastics group, girl-on-girl crime ensues. The film is definitely “SO fetch” and pretty accurately displays high school girl drama.
2- American Pie (1999): American Pie is the story of four friends who make a pact to lose their virginity by prom night. A simple premise which became THE coming of age, teenage film of the early 2000’s, left its mark with tons of quotable one liners! MILF, Stifler’s Mom, “Like warm apple pie”, “this one time at band camp…” and the list goes on and on. Not to mention, the sound track is also pretty rockin’!
1- The Breakfast Club (1985): The Breakfast Club earns our vote as the best high school movie of all time! It’s a timeless classic which follows a group of characters through a life changing Saturday detention where we find that each character is out to prove they are something more than what they appear to be. Ultimately they discover that, though they may run in different social cliques throughout the school, they aren’t all that different. “Each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, and a princess, and a criminal.” With the star-studded 80’s cast of Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelson, this John Hughes films is definitely one of our favorites of all time. Not to mention, the films theme song is still, to this day, EPIC! Any time Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” plays, your mind immediately goes to The Breakfast Club.
This list could go on, and on, and on forever. We had a real difficult time narrowing this list down to just 10 films so, “Honorable Mentions” (and some of our other all time personal favs) are listed below.
- Bring It On
- Pretty in Pink
- Lean On Me
- Teen Witch
- Just One of The Guys
- Dead Poets Society
- High School Musical
- Back to the Future
- 16 Candles
- Dazed and Confused
- Napoleon Dynamite
- Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
And there you have it. Our lists for the Best High School Films of All Time. What do you think of our choices? What films did we miss? Let us know in the comments section below.
A karaoke obsessed, craft beer enthusiast and lover of all things pop culture, Denise enjoys all facets of entertainment from Broadway to box office blockbusters. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, concerts (lots and lots of concerts), volunteering, reading and playing with her rescue kitten, Samantha (who rescued who, right?).