Five Classic Films For High School Students

My Top 5 Movie Picks For Any High School Student


Aden Schulze-Miller

There are an innumerable amount of films that resonate amongst High School alumni, some of them are natural classics while others bank on an all-teen cast and school set pieces to captivate their audience. Nonetheless, as High School has played an inevitable role in the lives of most generations (at least here in the United States), the appropriately dubbed “High School Esque” film genre is one that relates to and touches the hearts of many. Out of the many possible choices, I’ve laid out my five favorite films of that category, not in any particular order. None of these works are contemporary, per se, though that just makes them easier to watch with folks.


#1 – Dazed and Confused (1993)

A raunchy extravaganza that follows multiple different teenagers during a night of partying on the last day of school, Dazed and Confused (1993) is a must-see comedy classic thats held up well through the decades. Its choppy and erratic sequences tell multiple stories at once, all of which are both humorous and heart-breaking, as the film incorporates relatably emotional segments that contrast with bouts of perfectly dry humor. It may not be everyone’s thing, but it’s certainly an uncomfortably wonderful viewing experience for those who are willing to let loose for a little under two hours. I’d give it a ⅘, your parents probably have it on DVD somewhere, so go ask them where it is as soon as humanly possible.


#2 – Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

    What’s undoubtedly a household name, Napoleon Dynamite (2004) was an immediate cult classic, and has proven to resonate greatly with the current generation of highschoolers. Napoleon’s (John Heder) charming adventures with his best friend Pedro (Efren Ramirez) and crush Deb (Tina Majorino) lure audiences into a quaintly amateur production that subtly evokes almost every possible emotion from the audience. The film isn’t afraid to go in every direction, constantly subverting the viewers’ expectations; while that might sound dramatic, it’s entirely true, as at a moment’s notice both the film’s plot line and tone might shift dramatically (though it never feels unpleasant). This film is one that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone that has found themselves in the unfortunate position of having not seen it; I’ll give it a solid 5/5; it has some flaws but is definitely close enough to cinematic perfection.

#3 – Weird Science (1985)

One of my father’s favorite films, Weird Science (1985) is an underappreciated classic in the true sense of the word. The movie is perhaps a bit dated, but it holds on to it’s cheesy humor so effectively that it couldn’t matter less. Run by a great cast, the film’s story is certainly unique; two boys embark on a mission to experimentally create their own super-girlfriend, and what follows is beyond fantastical. If it all sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is, yet the film plays off of it’s own absurdity amazingly well. At the end of it all, there may or may not be much more to take home from the picture other than the value of the bond between best friends, yet the ride up to this point is outstandingly enjoyable. I’d say it stands at a ⅗, maybe more, maybe less. You should totally shut off your brain for a bit and go give it a watch with your friends.



    As a precaution, I advise against watching this film with any small children in the room; the film is at times oppressively vulgar, if only for comedic effect. Besides this quality, however, Detroit Rock City (1999) details an aspiring coverband’s journey to attend their idol, KISS’s concert in, well, Detroit. While there are brief bouts of dramatic tension, our heroes are lovable personalities that play off of each other with perfect chemistry, leading to perhaps the most bluntly humorous out of all of these films. The movie is also incredibly pleasing to those with a matured taste in music, as the film flaunts a soundtrack riddled with 80’s classics. Once again, this is another movie that’s great to watch with your friends on the weekend. Critics haven’t been overly kind to the film, though I’d argue it’s worthy of another ⅗, as it’s flaws are overshadowed by its comedic genius and fun story.


#5 – The Breakfast Club (1985)

As it stands, The Breakfast Club (1985) is the most easily recognizable of any film from its genre. An older staple in any household, and less comical than the previous picks, the film’s plot revolves around five distinct caricatures who, having come together through similar means (weekend detention), discover that they’re all more alike than what was previously believed. It’s another “coming of age” story that tugs at the heartstrings, it’s characters are depressingly relatable and it’s never consistent in nature, much like your average teenager. I can’t really do it justice through that explanation, thus I say you should just make some time to watch it whenever it seems appropriate, either with or without company. It would be absurd to rate the film anything other than an firm 5/5, within its class as this is as good as it gets.


As noted previously, this is but a small sample out of a countless selection of “High School” films; some other great choices are movies like Sixteen Candles (1984) and Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). Check them all out before graduation for the proper experience!