• Melissa

20 A+ Back to School Movies

It’s been a few years since I have had to worry about back to school time, but there’s no denying that I still feel that little pang of happy anxiety come August…the fear and excitement of starting a new school year filled with new people, new opportunities, and new SCHOOL SUPPLIES!

Though I don’t have to worry about collecting my school planner and trying to remember my locker combination anymore, I still do love watching other people go through it! Therefore, I’ve collected my top 20 back to school movies, sure to get you in the S-P-I-R-I-T (even if you're learning from the comfort of your own home this year)!


20 Back to School Movies

Rushmore (1998): It’s a little romantic, a little heartbreaking, a little sad, and a whole lot of funny. One of my all-time favorite movies, Rushmore is a whimsical and wonderful story of a small prep school and the boy who just couldn’t let it go. Filled with familiar tales of awkward friendships and unrequited love, Rushmore will have you smiling from start to finish.

Dead Poet's Society (1989): If you’ve been lucky enough to have a teacher or professor like John Keating, you best count your blessings. A testament to the importance of language and words, Dead Poets Society is a beautiful film that should be on the syllabus for any student, no matter what their discipline.

Election (1999): We all know her…the pushy, smart, show-off who overtook the school walls with “Vote for Me” posters. She was on the ballot for Class President, Homecoming Queen, Prom Queen, and graduated valedictorian. Every school has one, and in Election, Reese Witherspoon captures her so perfectly. Her relationship with her teacher (Matthew Broderick) alone makes this one a must-see before school starts.

School Ties (2001): A hidden gem in the back-to-school movie line-up, School Ties stars Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Chris O’Donnell, and Anthony Rapp. Taking place in a private all-boys school, School Ties covers touchy topics such as racism, bigotry, and prejudice and pushes the door wide open on the difficulties students face from their parents and their environment.

Clueless (1995): A true time capsule of 90’s culture, Clueless is a joy for those who were products of the time. Based on Jane Austen’s Emma, Clueless is a feel-good film that may look trashy on the outside, but has a heart of gold.

Mona Lisa Smile (2003): Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts) is a recent UCLA graduate hired to teach art history at the prestigious all-female Wellesley College in 1953. Determined to confront the outdated mores of society and the institution that embraces them, Katherine inspires her traditional students to challenge the lives they are expected to lead.

Bring it On (2000): This is not a democracy, it's a cheerocracy. A movie with guilty pleasure written all over it, Bring it On has enough spunk, sass and spirit fingers to jump start your school pride.

Back to School (1986): To help get his son on the straight and narrow, Thornton Melon (Rodney Dangerfield) heads off to college. In true Dangerfield fashion, hilarity ensues, and the film ends with an ironic message from Dangerfield on how to deal with life’s challenges.

Animal House (1978): The ultimate college prep movie. I mean, if you didn't ever have a shirt that said COLLEGE, did you actually even go to college?

The Breakfast Club (1985): One of my favorite movies of all time, The Breakfast Club is the ultimate high school movie. With a character to represent every high school cliché, this classic 80’s film teaches us all that, at the end of the day, the labels we strive for never really matter.

Mr. Holland's Opus (1997): I can honestly say that some of the best high school and college memories I have are of my time in band. The arts are ESSENTIAL to a well-rounded and productive education, and Mr. Holland’s Opus is a sweet dedication to those who continue to fight so hard to keep the arts active in their school districts.

Kindergarten Cop (1990): Because children.

Remember the Titans (2000): The ultimate in feel-good movies, Remember the Titans will attack your emotional core. Denzel Washington shines as a football coach who has to battle racism, failing students, and a school system that is working against him. Despite all odds, the love and dedication he shows his team make this a heart-warming film that anyone will enjoy.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001): Let’s be honest, when Harry and Hagrid go to Diagon Alley to shop for his school supplies, you can’t help but just squeal with glee! Harry’s introduction into Hogwarts and the wizarding world rings familiar with those going to high school or college for the first time. Meeting new friends, getting used to new professors, and navigating a new landscape are stressors for any student, but Harry and his friends show us that just sharing some jelly beans can go a long way in establishing life-long connections.

School of Rock (2003): A movie about the old fashioned way of sticking it to "The Man": ROCK N' ROLL!

10 Things I Hate About You (1999): In all honesty, here are the two best things about this film:

  • Heath Ledger

  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Aaaand that’s about it.

Mean Girls (2004): This movie is so fetch. The cool girls may not be as cool as you think, and Mean Girls sheds light on what makes the Regina’s of the world tick.

Easy A (2010): Prompted by her popular best friend to spill details of her boring weekend, Olive (Emma Stone), a clean-cut teen, decides to spice things up by telling a little lie about losing her virginity. When the high-school busybody overhears the conversation and spreads it all over campus, Olive is suddenly notorious, but for the wrong reasons.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986): Because Mondays will always suck.

Grease (1978): A definite guilty pleasure, Grease holds a spot up there as one of my favorite back-to-school movies. For extra credit, check out Grease 2, where you’ll learn helpful songs that teach you about the months of the year and how plants reproduce. All helpful information.


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