6. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
The Curriculum: A modern day retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, 10 Things I Hate About You sees new student Cameron attempt to win the heart of his crush Bianca. However, Bianca’s father has strict rules about dating, including that Bianca cannot date until her older sister Kat does. The problem is that Kat has no interest in boys or dating, so Cameron enlists the help of bad boy Patrick to woo Kat, so that he can finally go out with Bianca.
Best Lesson: High School certainly isn’t without its struggles, but it is also has its great moments too. 10 Things I Hate About You focuses on all the fun things about High School – falling in love for the first time, the music you listen to, and the friends who do it all with you, and does it all in a smart and funny take on Shakespeare. There is definitely a sentimentality in watching these teens navigate relationships and school. But it is done in such a feelgood and fun way, that you cannot help but fondly remember and miss your own schooldays.
7. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
The Curriculum: High School slacker Ferris makes an elaborate plan to take a day off from school, his last chance to do so before he graduates. Ferris calls in sick, ‘borrows’ a Ferrari, and then takes off on a trip to Chicago. Not far behind is Ferris’ Principal, who does not believe that Ferris is sick and plans to catch him in the act.
Best Lesson: As much fun as you could have in school with your friends, there was also a lot of fun to be had in missing school with your friends as well. ‘Cutting class,’ ‘bunking off,’ and ‘skipping school,’ are all rites of passage for students. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a film about being young, having fun and looking back on it all with not a shred of regret. It is enough to make you yearn for those simple schooldays, where your biggest responsibility was to have as much fun as possible.
8. Dazed and Confused (1993)
The Curriculum: Set in 1976, Dazed and Confused follows a group of teenagers on their last day of high school. The incoming freshman are being hazed by the seniors, and everyone else is out to get laid, drunk or stoned. Apart from star of the football team, Randall Floyd, who has promised to focus on the championship and abstain from partying.
Best Lesson: Nostalgic without being cliched, Dazed and Confused perfectly captures the fun of high school, in a way that will make even the most cynical look back on their schooldays with some fondness. Set in that wonderful time of breaking up from school, with summer stretched gloriously in front of you, Dazed and Confused is the ultimate film about hanging out and having fun. There is no other time in your life where you have infinite possibilities laid out in front of you, and where you can party endlessly with your friends.
9. Heathers (1988)
The Curriculum: Veronica disapproves of the cruel behaviour displayed by the popular clique at her high school. She decides to confront the leader of the clique, Heather Chandler, with her new boyfriend J.D. But when they accidentally poison her, they make it appear as though Heather has committed suicide. Soon Veronica discovers that J.D. is killing off the students that he dislikes, and she must stop him whilst also dealing with the new clique leader Heather Duke.
Best Lesson: This intelligent black comedy successfully paints school politics in a way that probably makes you feel glad that you no longer go there. Yet, in its cynical and dark portrayal, there is something fascinating in thinking back on your own schooldays and wondering how you dealt with it all, and what your own role was. And perhaps even feeling like you wish you could go back again, and do it better.
10. Rushmore (1998)
The Curriculum: Eccentric student Max excels in extracurricular activities, and is ruthlessly ambitious. One day, Max strikes up a friendship with rich industrialist Herman Blume, but their friendship is put to the test when they both fall in love with new first grade teacher, Rosemary Cross. The two friends soon become entangled in war to gain her attention, leading to a complicated situation.
Best Lesson: Taking aside the brilliant eccentricity of the characters and the film’s quirky message about doing what you love, Rushmore scores highly as a film bound to make you miss your schooldays, on its visuals alone. The school clubs, the classrooms, the library, and all set in the best school term of the year – the Fall.
Unravelling over the Fall term, you cannot help but remember the excitement of a new school year – freshly sharpened pencils and crisp new exercise books. But also, the new passions and dreams that each different year brings when you are young – what will you achieve? Who will you become? Overachieving Max finds happiness in his school life, and whether the audience shares the same feeling or not, they can find familiarity in some aspect of his schooldays.
Author Bio: Cara McWilliam-Richardson is a writer with a passion for films and filmmaking. She has written several screenplays, and is currently working on her first novel. Her favourite genre to write is fantasy and science fiction.