Well, after the summer holidays, it’s Back To School for most young people in the UK this week! Unfortunately, I’m an adult, so going back to school is not an option for me. I am not able to have six straight weeks off work over the summer to enjoy my freedom. I have four weeks off a year, and I can’t take them off consecutively. But I look back on my school days fondly. Yes, I miss them, especially the high school days. I can’t remember much about primary school, but high school evokes plenty of happy memories for me. Innocence, learning lots of things, going through puberty, having lots and lots of friends…But they are over now. However, films have me covered in this area. There are a plethora of films about high school that jog my memory about my high school days. So here are my Top 10 High School Films!

Oh, high school…those days of being carefree and careless…
  1. The History Boys

I had to include at least one British film about high school on this list! It’s based on a play by Alan Bennett, which I confess to not having read/seen on the stage. But that doesn’t matter, does it? What we have here is a bunch of schoolboys who hope to enter Oxford or Cambridge. Of course, they also want girls. It’s full of 80s tunes, clever and witty dialogue, and the immortal phrase: “History: it’s one f**king thing after another.” Oh, and where else will you find a teenage lad trying to seduce a girl by talking about World War I?

  1. Brick

If you want a neo-noir based in a high school, then Brick has you covered. If you want to see what the director of The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson, is capable of, look at this film, his directorial debut. Joseph Gordon Levitt’s Brenden Frye receives a phone call from his ex-girlfriend, asking him for help. From that point on, high school drama is mixed with drugs and inspiration from the detective novels of the 40s/50s to deliver something unique in the high school film genre.

  1. Mean Girls

A recently transferred girl becomes one of the ‘mean girls’ in a modern-day high school classic. Lindsay Lohan burst into stardom after this as the girl, Cady. Initially, all she wants to do is have friends, but she becomes involved with the ‘mean girls’ in the school, who have Regina as their leader. Cady plots to replace Regina as the leader…but for good reasons, or bad? This tale of good girl gone bad in high school pokes plenty of fun at the genre. It has fun with it whilst having a moral message that’s in keeping with the genre. Yes, it has its cake and eats it. But it’s hilarious, quotable and notable.

  1. Election

High school film can be used to satirize plenty of things, but Election is overt in its satire of politics. And it’s great at doing it, as well. Tracy Flick, played by Resse Witherspoon, runs for student body president. Teacher McAllister, however, has other plans, so pits Paul Metzler against her. It’s a two-horse race until Tammy puts her name on the ballot paper. She believes that the student government is pointless. There’s plenty more happening behind the scenes, but Election is dark and funny. It isn’t the typical high school film you’d expect.

  1. Easy A

This isn’t based on Shakespeare, but Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ‘The Scarlet Letter.’ Emma Stone plays Olivia, who lies about losing her virginity and is treated like a whore by the conservative Christians at school. Olive comes to embrace her role as the school slut, even though she’s no such thing. Election was about politics, Easy A is about the hypocrisy and cruelty of religion. It’s also about the stigma of being a virgin in high school AND the stigma of being a slut in high school. It’s almost a Catch-22, isn’t it? Stone plays her part to perfection, and Amanda Bynes as the evil Christian do-gooder plays against type wonderfully.

  1. Superbad

What high school film list would be complete without a gross-out comedy? I could have gone for Porkys or American Pie, but it’s Superbad that lingers in my memory. It’s loud, rude and crude, but that’s all you want from a gross-out comedy, isn’t it? It may be a little overstretched, but the gross-out moments and the gags hit home. And I’m talking about belly laughs. Come on, it’s about two high school pupils who want to lose their virginity. You can’t expect Shakespeare here, but you can expect to laugh over and over again.

  1. Carrie

Carrie may be a horror film, but it’s as much about the horrors of high school than it is of having telekinetic powers, or a overtly religious mother. It opens with a scene that many teenage girls fear: having your first period in public (in the school showers, no less). Instead of helping her, her fellow female pupils laugh and throw tampons at her. Like any good high school film, it builds up to the prom, and it’s something to remember as well. But for all the wrong reasons. More than anything, Carrie is a film about the horrors of high school bullying. And it’s still terrifying.

  1. Donnie Darko

I can include this, can’t I? Part high school drama, part mind-bending science fiction, part-horror, part 80s nostalgia-fest, Donnie Darko is jack of all trades and master of most. Jake Gyllenhaal proved he could be in the big acting leagues here. He’s the titular Donnie Darko, who’s told by a human sized rabbit named Frank that the world will end (in a specific amount of time). Oh, he’s also possessed by Frank on occasion. Feel overwhelmed? You will be after watching the film (and even after several rewatches). It has high school crushes, high school bullies, helpful teachers and a dance sequence that’s mesmerising. Oh, and you’ll want to watch it again and again to make sense of it.

  1. The Breakfast Club

The classic high school film, The Breakfast Club has all the tropes and stereotypes we associate with the high school film today. The jock, the bad boy, the rich girl, the geek, the weirdo…but they aren’t merely stereotypes here, Each stereotype is turned on its head in a bittersweet manner. All five school kids have to share a Saturday detention together. Yes, there’s mystery about what each individual has done to warrant a detention, but there’s also the kids beginning to understand each other. Oh, and Judd Nelson as Bender is brilliant.

  1. Clueless

I did want to put The Breakfast Club here. But I saw Clueless a long time before I watched The Breakfast Club, and just simply love it more! A high school film with a twist on Shakespeare is nothing new, but a high school drama based on a Jane Austen novel brought us Clueless. Clueless is based on Austen’s Emma, about a girl who realises that it makes her feel good by doing good things. Her first taste of a good deed is matchmaking between two teachers (that has the bonus of sorting out her average report card). She “adopts” a new girl at the high school, who’s a total L-7. But her attempt at good deeds backfires…It’s funny, clever, and laughs at the high school genre more than it takes from it. Oh, it gave me a crush on Alicia Silverstone that lasted a long time.

Honourable Mentions

10 Things I Hate About You

American Pie


Napoleon Dynamite

Pretty In Pink

Agree or disagree? Any you’d take away or add? What is your Top 10?


  1. Screen Zealots September 5, 2017 / 10:29 pm

    Great list! I think “Brick” is one of those special little movies that many people have yet to discover.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. rAdishhorse September 5, 2017 / 11:49 pm

    Nice. I like the not typical High School movies you put on the list (Carrie, Donnie Darko). How about Elephant? Also, no Fast Times at Ridgemont High?

    That said, I kinda miss the Mean Girls/Herbie Lindsay Lohan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hammy Reviews September 6, 2017 / 1:30 am

      Much to my shame, I haven’t seen Fast Times At Ridgemont High


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