As parents across the country purchase school supplies, new shoes, and backpacks for their kids, they are celebrating the most wonderful time of the year: back-to-school time! Kids drag their feet to that first bell, while parents kick their heels in glee. It’s no secret that this time of year is a big deal for everyone. Marketers revel in back-to-school sales, and network television shows start rolling out their season premiers. Movies have also traditionally jumped on the back-to-school bandwagon. In looking back over the years, there are dozens of films that have capitalized on this theme, and many of them are wonderful.
Here’s a look at a few back-to-school movies that stand the test of time.
7. Back to School — 1986
Not only is this classic ’80s flick about going back to school at the end of summer, but it’s also about going back to school as an adult. It features Rodney Dangerfield at his best, when the comic was in his prime. We get love stories, an underdog prevailing, and a boatload of laughs. While the hairstyles and outfits reek of the decade, the humor is still very well done.
6. Election — 1999
This dark, Oscar-nominated comedy hits on a lot of topics, while Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick deliver seasoned performances. We all know that nauseatingly perfect kid in school who wins everything and for whom everything comes a little too easy, right? Well, here, we have a teacher doing his best to sabotage her chances of winning the title of school president. While this certainly doesn’t have a happy ending, the journey is well worth it.
5. Grease — 1978
Our favorite T-Birds and Pink Ladies head back to school in September and welcome exchange student Sandy to Rydell High School. We have some of the most memorable music ever (not to mention those dances) and an all-star cast. It doesn’t get much better than this.
4. School of Rock — 2003
This movie is really so much fun. You have a bunch of wildly talented kids (and Jack Black’s comedic performance on top of that) plus a script that totally delivers. Black plays Dewey Finn, a struggling musician who pretends to be a substitute teacher to a bunch of fourth-graders. When he sees how musically inclined they are, he attempts to capitalize on it. The movie even inspired a Broadway adaptation, brought to us by none other than Andrew Lloyd Webber himself.
3. Mean Girls — 2004
Who knew that Lindsay Lohan would star in one of the best coming-of-age movies of all time? We all knew those mean girls in high school. You were either one of them, wanted to be them, or wanted to date them. In this film, which was expertly adapted for the screen by Tina Fey, we have Regina George (the girl we love to hate) and her crew as they indoctrinate newcomer Cady Heron. In addition to several guest-starring roles by Saturday Night Live alumni, we have Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried, and Lacey Chabert as the “Plastics.”
2. Dead Poets Society — 1989
“Oh Captain, my captain!” This film, which won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, is beautiful from start to finish. We have a career-defining performance by the formidable Robin Williams, and we are introduced to a whole slew of actors who have gone on to have incredibly impressive careers: Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, and Josh Charles. We rally with the boys as they support their caring and invested teacher, and we mourn with them as they lose one of their own.
1. The Breakfast Club — 1985
We have the brain, the athlete, the basket case, the princess, and the criminal. This one movie sums up what it’s like to have to endure the battlefield that is high school. And, of course, we get to enjoy the performances of the beloved “Brat Pack” over the course of two hours. While Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, and Judd Nelson all went on to star in several successful projects after this one, the chemistry that we got to witness on-screen in this gem is one for the ages.