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Class is in session: top 10 best back to school movies

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As much as any kid hates the annual demise of summer, and initiation of the grueling school year, it’s an unavoidable reality. The back to school signs, shimmering in the fluorescents of shopping malls, brightly colored leaflets stuffed into newspapers, and overly jolly TV jingles advertise the impending approach.

Thankfully there are some fantastic back to school flicks that will undoubtedly remedy the schoolhouse blues. Check out the top 10 below:

“Billy Madison” (1995)
“Billy Madison” (1995) Wikipedia.org

“Billy Madison” (1995)

2. “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986)Truthfully, “Billy Madison” isn’t a great movie. Heck, it isn’t even a good movie really, but thanks to titular character Billy Madison (Adam Sandler) crooning “back to school, back to school,” we’ll forever associate this goofball movie with starting the semester. At least it’s one of Adam Sandler’s more tolerable productions.

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986)
“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986) Wikipedia.org

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986)

High school senior Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) fakes an illness to skip school, and together with friends Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck) and Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara), enjoy an eventful day off. We’ve all been plagued by senioritis, at varying levels of education, and even related sentiments towards work. Upperclassmen should find some stellar de-motivation here.

“Dead Poets Society” (1989)
“Dead Poets Society” (1989) Wikipedia.org

“Dead Poets Society” (1989)

Coupled with Robin Williams’ recent passing, the heartwarming “Dead Poets Society” is a great back to school movie. Particularly poignant for literary folks, the narrative follows a group of high school seniors at Welton Academy Prep School, and their radical new English teacher John Keating (Robin Williams). Williams delivers a gripping, though substantially different, performance from many of his more comedic roles, so don’t expect as many adlibbed lines.

“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982)
“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982) Wikipedia.org

“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982)

Based on writer Cameron Crowe’s experiences posing as a student at Clairemont High School in San Diego, the adaptation of Crowe’s book of the same name is an amusing romp with several memorable characters. The cast features the always entertaining Judge Reinhold, Sean Penn as a rather convincing stoner, a football playing Forest Whitaker, and even Nicholas Cage. It’s worth watching at the very least to see such an amalgamation of stand-out actors in one production.

“Animal House” (1978)
“Animal House” (1978) Wikipedia.org

“Animal House” (1978)

“Animal House” is the epitome of college humor flicks. Arguably, it’s the film that initiated the slew of copycat movies to follow. Delta Tau Chi fraternity consists of a ragtag group of frat brothers, led by John “Bluto” Blutarsky (John Belushi). Former Saturday Night Live star Belushi steals the show, inciting uproarious laughter with a facial expression or movement. Credit “Animal House” for popularizing the obligatory toga party, and for causing many concussions from attempted beer can crushing.

“Carrie” (1976)
“Carrie” (1976) Wikipedia.org

“Carrie” (1976)

High school is, undeniably, an awkward time, and prom is the crown jewel of discomfort. Beneath the veneer of powder blue tuxedoes and plastic tiaras, is a sweaty gym with clichéd songs blasting from poor quality speakers. However, all that seems fine and dandy when compared with the task of actually asking someone to the prom. Thankfully we’ve got Brian De Palma’s adaptation of Stephen King’s classic Carrie. Seriously, no matter how awful your prom night is, it can’t be nearly as disastrous as Carrie’s (Sissy Spacek), and De Palma’s cult classic truly makes any date seem fantastic.

“Revenge of the Nerds” (1984)
“Revenge of the Nerds” (1984) Wikipedia.org

“Revenge of the Nerds” (1984)

As the title suggests, “Revenge of the Nerds” is a root for the underdog comedy. The simplistic plot is genuinely hilarious, as the nerds face off against the jocks. Robert Carradine, Anthony Edwards, and Timothy Busfield prominently lead the nerd camp, while Ted McGinely, Donald Gibb, and Matt Salinger play the popular athletes. John Goodman also stars as Coach Harris, the football coach, sure to elicit a bevy of laughter.

“The Wackness” (2008)
“The Wackness” (2008) Wikipedia.org

“The Wackness” (2008)

Johnathan Levine’s 2008 coming of age flick chronicles Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck) in his final summer before college. A quirky adventure, Shapiro sells weed in New York out of an ice cream cart, and barters pot for therapy sessions with psychiatrist Dr. Squires (Ben Kingsley).  Squires and Luke have a very atypical relationship, which includes drinking, getting stoned, and graffiti, and to complicate matters, Luke has a fling with Dr. Squires’ stepdaughter Stephanie (Olivia Thirlby).

“The Breakfast Club” (1985)
“The Breakfast Club” (1985) Wikipedia.org

“The Breakfast Club” (1985)

Five high schoolers from completely different backgrounds attend a Saturday morning detention. Each student represents a stereotype: there’s the resident bad boy, John Bender (Judd Nelson), the jock Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez), the nerd Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall), the slightly nutty Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy), and the pampered Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald). Assistant principal Dick Vernon (Paul Gleason) assigns the detention kids each an 1,000 word essay on who they think they are. Ok, so we know where this is going immediately, but it’s fun to watch, and offers a cheerier perspective on cliques and their ability to intermingle.

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (2001)
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (2001) Wikipedia.org

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (2001)

Although the wizarding world may be drastically different from the muggle world, there’s a common element: school. It’s because of his enrollment in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry that Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) discoverers his magical lineage. Interestingly, Harry actually relishes the opportunity to attend classes, though his experience is a bit more like college. Go easy on the butterbeer, Harry. Thankfully, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” is sure to expunge any back to school blues.

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