MY TOP TEN FAVORITE HIGH SCHOOL MOVIES OF ALL TIME
10. Mean Girls
Mean Girls, like any other high school movie about evil, tyrannical high school vaginas, is just another rehashed, watered-down version of the movie Heathers. But be that as it may, it’s still Lohan in her prime, rocking a spray- tan, red hair extensions and a rack that brought everyone to their knees. But it’s Rachel Mcadams portrayal of Regina that really takes the cake here, in my opinion. Because even though the character is, at times, a bit of an affectation, her performance is still a borderline pitch-perfect portrayal of that blonde, top tier high school beauty queen psychopath. We all knew a girl like that in high school, and we hated her, but at the same time, we would have sold our souls to be her, even if it was for only five minutes. But it’ll never happen. She’d run you over in her silver Lexus before Satan would ever even have the chance to answer your call. So stop trying to make it happen. It’s not going to happen.
9. Bring It On
Because you still know all the words to the entire opening sequence by heart and don’t you dare lie to yourself. Bring It On is a slutty, silly movie that tried desperately to cram R-rated material into a PG-13 rating, (How many times did they flip the bird instead of actually saying the word ‘fuck’?) but it still got the job done. I know it made me secretly want to be a cheerleader for the rest of my life, and It probably have the same effect on you, too.
8. Cruel Intentions
Buffy, slutting it up on the Upper East Side, telling the boys that they can put it anywhere, trying to destroy innocent people, strutting around her parents’ penthouse apartment wearing nothing but lingerie just so she can fuck with her stepbrother. One of my favorite scenes is when she’s blowing coke in the bathroom, and Witherspoon comes out of the bathroom stall on the first day of school and tells her to trust in Jesus right before she bitch slaps her ego so hard that she’ll never make it out of high school alive. She got everything that she deserved, but goddamn, she looked good on the way down.
People always say the hardest scene for them to watch is the scene where she gets her first period in the locker room, but for me, the hardest one to stomach is the opening scene where she’s being forced to play volleyball. The camera starts out high, observing a game of teenage girls playing an innocent game of volleyball, all of them at ease, knowing what to do and how to play, or at least how to pretend. Then the camera slowly focuses in on Carrie, and she’s standing there crippled with anxiety and horrified to even take a step into the game. The look on her face is excruciating. It reminds me having to try and throw footballs and score goals, of which I always failed miserably — ultimately ending up making a complete ass of myself for even trying. So what if you’re not good at all that shit? What if you don’t look and act like 90 percent of the people around you? What if you’re offbeat, quiet and reserved, or just plain don’t fit in? Well, if that’s the case, then in the universe of high school, you’re fucked. So if you were the one standing there, an outcast and a loser, who just so happened to be telekinetic, and they fucking dumped a bucket of pig’s blood on your head, then don’t even try and tell me that you wouldn’t have done the exact same fucking thing. I know I would have. I’d have fucking burned that bitch to the ground, too.
Everyone always wonders how far they would make it in a horror movie, and everyone always thinks they’re the star; the hero sole survivor that gets to be in the sequel. But what makes you so sure that you’re not the dumb blonde hanging from a tree with her intestines hanging out? Scream is just another movie about upper middle class white teenagers getting slashed to bits, but it broke all the rules, which makes it a cut above the rest, pun intended. Scream mocked the slasher movie genre. It’s characters were self-aware, and instead of just simply going down one by one, they tried to put the puzzle together along with the audience as the story progressed, trying desperately to follow the rules of how to survive a horror movie. In the end it was still no use, but the damaged Sydney Prescott somehow managed to find her way to the top, and brought the whole system to its knees. I love movies where girls kick ass, and horror movies are always making us wonder how badass we really are. There’s no way to know for sure, but if you don’t think you would make it, then you’d better get down on your knees and pray that Jesus can restore your virginity.
Christians are mean. They’re self-righteous and think they know everything. They’re judgmental and they don’t tip. Now don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with Jesus, who was a fucking badass rebel who sought out the misfits, trying to make sense of those that everyone else had already given up on. It’s Christians that are the problem, and whether or not you believe in Jesus as a God, or as simply a character in a story, you reserve the right to believe in whatever you want — and you should never be judged for that. I love this movie because it had the balls to questions an authority that people feel like they have to cower to in order to make it to those pearly gates. Organized religion tells you to believe in all that is written, regardless of whether or not it makes sense, and if you follow the rules, you will live in eternal happiness for all time. That is such a crock of bull shit. Everything should be questioned. You should never lay down and let printed words run your life. I can’t think of very many movies that pushed back as hard against religion as Saved! did, and it’s a fucking high school movie, for fuck’s sake. A girl who tries to save her gay boyfriend by offering up her virginity to Jesus, and in a cruel twist of fate, she gets knocked up and has to live out the rest of her senior year as a pariah. But her actions ignite arguments, discussions and conversations about what it really means to have faith, and it eventually brings everyone to a better understanding of the God that they’re trying to worship, and of themselves. My favorite scene is when she finds out she’s pregnant, and she stands in front of the cross of a church and yells the words ‘fuck’, ‘shit’, and ‘goddamn’.
Cher is an American Hero, a rebel, and a martyr. Seriously. Joan of Arc doesn’t have shit on this bitch. Cher is the antithesis of every high school mean girl you’ve ever seen on screen, and although she may be a little retarded, she breathed hope into the lives of frumpy losers who dreamed about being taken under the wing of the most popular girl in school. Cher thinks she knows everything, and she knows absolutely nothing, but it’s her nativity that made her such a fearless force of nature. And although she very well could have used her power for evil, she chose the other side of the coin, and tried to be like that book she read where it says that it is a far far better thing to do nice stuff for other people. Every frame of Clueless looks like it could be found in a ’90s time capsule, and I think I speak for everyone here when I say that there’s a huge void in my heart that only the ’90s can fill — and Clueless is one of the best fixes there is (not to mention the entire script is basically one giant one-liner). And even though we’ll never get that decade back, Clueless will remain the same for forever and always. I sincerely hope it never stops streaming on Netflix. It’s always there for me when I need to be reminded of better days.
3. Rebel Without a Cause
Every hunky male movie star who came after James Dean is just a James Dean wannabe, and the hardest demon for me to face down every morning, usually, is the fact that I’ll never be James Dean, or Marilyn Monroe, which is what this movie is about. Because being yourself is really, really fucking hard, and Rebel Without a Cause explores just how difficult it can be to have to get out of bed in the morning and face all that anxiety — and how excruciatingly painful your youth can be in general. Everyone is fucked in high school; it doesn’t matter who you are. We all walked the halls with the shit-end of the stick held between our teeth. I’ve always found this movie to be comforting, because it felt good to know that the experience of high school was the same for everyone, no matter what generation you came from — and that even James Dean, who was the most popular boy in the entire world, still had a hard time. I’ll never be him, but I know he never would have wanted for me anyway; he would have wanted me to be myself instead, and I wish the same thing for you. They can never take away our blonde hair and lipstick, so put on the brightest shade of red you can get your hands on; and when your father calls you a slut and tries to wipe it off, spit in his face, re-apply and persist.
2. The Breakfast Club
All John Hughes movies are a bit of a fantasy, and I love all of them dearly, but there’s only enough room on this list for one, the best one: The Breakfast Club. It’s a movie about five completely different teenagers that came together, put away the sword for an afternoon, and found a way to understand one another. They cried together, kissed each other, danced together, and realized that they’re not all so different, and that they don’t have to feel so alone if they don’t want to. Like I said, it’s a fantasy, which is why movies exist — to take us out of our realities and put us in places with fictional characters that make us feel like we can be ourselves when we’re with them. There are pieces of all of us in each those five teenagers, and no matter how much time passes, they always take you back to that feeling. And when you’re with them, you don’t feel alone, which is a hard feeling to shake when you’re in high school. Because when the chemistry in your body begins to change and you start growing hair in all those awkward places, trying to prep you for adulthood, you have absolutely no idea who the fuck you are and you’re always one step away from losing your mind. If you’re a girl, nothing is ever the right size. Small enough, big enough, perky enough, good enough. And if you’re a guy, there’s always this sense that your balls haven’t dropped yet, or that they’ll never drop far enough for you to be the kind of man that they expect you to be. Then shove everyone into buildings and rooms together for four consecutive years, crank the hormones up to screeching overload, and we’re supposed to be surprised that the news is always plagued by seemingly endless reports of high school shootouts? We hated each other. Always comparing, and competing in every way possible. Best tits and hair. Most touchdowns scored. Who got the highest score on their SATs. Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah. But John Hughes always found a way to see the light through the cracks, and by doing so, he gave us characters to root for, fall in love with, and relate to. If only life could always feel like a John Hughes movie. The ’80s would never end, and we would all stomp across the end zone and throw our fists in the air together.
A fellow writer once asked me: “What’s the one thing that you wish you had written?” And the answer sprang into my head before he even finished the question. There was no doubt in my mind.
How do I even begin to talk about Heathers? How do I fully express my undying love for Winona Ryder, in all forms, but most especially as Veronica Sawer, pouring her heart out over her journal, rocking her blazer like a fucking boss and doing all she can to try and stop Heather. Enter Christian Slater. The psychopath boy next door with a head of hair that never quits. Combine the two and you’ve got the best teenage satire to ever be printed on a LaserDisc.
Heathers is about an outsider who somehow winds up in the belly of the beast of the most popular click in her high school by being asked to join by their leader, Heather. (Oh hey, Mean Girls.). But she comes to find very quickly that there’s really no place for her anywhere within the parameters of the group, and that the morals and principles of each member, all of whom are named Heather, resemble that of every evil dictator in history: their sole purpose in life is to inflict pain and suffering on a mass group of people: the 95% of the student body that they don’t think is cool, and not feeling cool is, at times, one of the great woes of life. You know what I mean. Because even after high school ends and the dust has finally settled, that shit still follows you — because no matter how much you change or grow up, there’s still always that nagging suspicion that you’re just some loser who belongs alone at a lunch table somewhere.
Heathers fulfills a really dark, like an unbelievably dark (I highly doubt this movie would get made today), fantasy: killing off your classmates that made your life hell, even if they are your best friends in the whole world. It’s a madness movie, meaning that it takes you with it as it begins to go crazy. And the script, Jesus, it’s so fucking good. The dialogue, the one-liners, the outfits, the hair, the 80s. We really don’t have enough time here, but if you don’t mind, in the last paragraph of this post, I’m going to try and use nothing but Heathers quotes and references to describe pretty much everything we’ve explored here today, boys and girls. So strap yourself in, because this shit won’t be pretty. And goddamn, I wish that I’d written this shit.
So you’ve hit a pretty killer spoke in your menstrual cycle, you’re terrified of digesting food, you can’t tell if you’re going to prom or to hell and every day of high school feels like you’re getting fucked gently with a chainsaw. You feel like a Blue Bird, a Brownie, and a Girl Scout Cookie. That high IQ you’r sporting doesn’t mean shit, because all you use it for is to help you to decide which lip gloss to wear in the morning and how you can manage to hit three keggers before curfew. If you’re not careful all your teen-angst bullshit might start to rack up a body count, yours included. But God, dying would be so boring, because you know you would just wind up sitting around, drinking Kool-Aid and singing Kumbaya for the rest of your afterlife. Luckily that sexually explicit photography exhibit involving tennis rackets served as a pretty good distraction, and gave you shower nozzle masturbation material for weeks. But it’s not enough. Nothing will ever be enough. So wash down your Corn Nuts and that brain tumor you had for breakfast with a glass of Drano; puke everything up on the floor in front of everyone, walk away from the mess and tell everyone to lick it up. Because you never would have gotten into Stanford anyway, baby.
So lick. It. Up.