Emily’s Top 5 High School Films

Written by Emily Stewart July 18, 2014

Dan Byrd and Emma Stone in "Easy A"

I actually enjoyed my time in high school. I’m serious. I met a great group of friends, got to travel to cool places, and had an overall great time. Not to mention I was super “grool,” or whatever the kids are saying nowadays. Ha. Just kidding. I was super awkward. After high school and university, I’m still super awkward. Oh, well. For some strange reason, I enjoy the high school film genre. I tend to set my stories in that time period. Some of my favourite films – including “Mean Girls,” “A Cinderella Story,” and “Juno” – have been included in my previous Top 5 lists. I would include these films on this list, but I wanted to add some different ones into the mix.

5. “Pleasantville” (Ross, 1998)

Reese Witherspoon and Paul Walker in "Pleasantville"

I have to confess something. I’m all for good people, less corruption, and an overall pleasant world. However, if things are too perfect to be true, it frightens me. Maybe I follow dystopian narratives too often, but there’s usually an underbelly to a perfectly content society. David (Tobey Maguire) learns this the hard way after he and his sister are transported into the 1950s sitcom “Pleasantville,” which he watches to escape his realities. Being inside your favourite show should be a dream come true, right? Nope. They figure out their society is too far behind the 1990s that the residents are closed minded. “Pleasantville” isn’t necessarily about high school, but it’s still one worthy of this list. There’s a lot of cool visual treats served in this film, especially the use of colour.

4. “Kick-Ass” (Vaughn, 2010)

Aaron Taylor-Johnson in "Kick-Ass"

Again, “Kick-Ass” is not explicitly a high school film, but still a relevant one. The main reason why I enjoyed this film so much is because of the cinematography. “Kick-Ass” is a colourful visual treat for the eyes, especially after recovering from an exam. That aside, the title character (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) lives out the tired-but-true plot of a misfit saving the day. In a sense, the portrayal is a bit of satire. A hero named “Kick-Ass”? It’s both appropriate and an eye roll!

3. “Easy A” (Gluck, 2010)

Emma Stone in "Easy A"

I had to put this one on my list because of Emma Stone. In the few movies I’ve seen her in, her off-screen personality shines through the characters. This film is no exception. There’s witty humour throughout “Easy A.” It also provided me a perspective on slut-shaming that helped form my stance on the issue. Really, anyone can be called out on it, even when they haven’t experienced their first time. Granted, Olive (Stone) got herself into that trouble by lying to Rhiannon (Aly Michalka) about it. Still, she has brilliant responses to the criticism. Telling the story through a webcam was a neat idea as well.

2. “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (Hughes, 1986)

Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, and Matthew Broderick in "Ferris Buellers Day Off"

Admit it. There were times where you wished you could just skip school for a day and not get in trouble for it. No? How about work? Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) basically lives everyone’s dream. Whether anyone will confess it or not, we all feel the need to take a day off from our usual routine. The title character was one of the few brave enough to do it. Plus, he shows us how important it is to take a break from reality at times. Maybe I wouldn’t do it the day I have a test, but still.

1.  “Grease” (Kleiser, 1978)

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in "Grease"

I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me “Grease” would crown this top 5 list after I first watched this film. Don’t get me wrong, I always loved the soundtrack and the cast is great. However, the whole idea of changing yourself to please others threw me off. Especially with Sandy (Olivia Newton-John), whose image was overly changed. Now, I realize that Danny (John Travolta) also changed who he was for her. Both of them didn’t need to really. Ah well. It’s still a fun film with a soundtrack I couldn’t tire of, and great dialogue.

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About Emily Stewart

Emily is a Media, Information and Technoculture student at Western University who likes to put her critical thinking skills and passion for writing to good use, including reviewing TV shows for We Eat Films.

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