17 High School Movies We Love, And What They Taught Us About Life

Julie Gerstein
17 High School Movies We Love, And What They Taught Us About Life
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If you’re anything like us, you’re about to spend this holiday week at home, ensconced in the warm, fuzzy embrace of childhood memories, teenage nostalgia, and photo albums filled with bad middle school haircuts and awkward mall punk phases we’d rather forget (okay maybe that’s really just us). As part of our trip down memory lane, we’ve also been re-watching some of our favorite teen movies, the ones we watched as kids to prepare us (or so we thought) for what it might be like to actually enter the totally confusing/exciting/beguiling world of adolescence.

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It turns out high school was everything and nothing like a John Hughes movie. Though there was no best friend name Duckie and we didn’t make our prom dress out of a thrift store monstrosity (ahem, “Pretty in Pink), high school was in parts very funny, kinda sad, and generally full of typical teenage angst.

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That said, we’ve rounded up 17 high school movies we love, and what they taught us about life in general. Take a look and share your favorites in the comments!

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Sixteen Candles (1984)

Molly Ringwald plays Sam, a girl who's birthday's been forgotten by everybody — except Jake Ryan, the hottest guy in school. 

The Lesson: It's cool if you're entire family sucks and forget your birthday, as long as Jake Ryan remembers. 

The Virgin Suicides (1999)

A group of boys becomes obsessd with a family of beautiful sisters after one of them commits suicide. 

The Lesson: Things usually aren't as perfect on the inside as they look on the outside. (And often heartbreakingly so). 

She's All That (1999)

Rachel Leigh Cook stars as Laney Boggs, an arty, nerdy girl (who also, of course, happens to be stunningly attractive) who becomes the subject as a bet between Zack Siler (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and his popular friends. Zack bets he can turn her into the school's prom queen by the end of the year, but also starts to fall for her. 

The Lesson: Popular guys are terrible. But the right guy will love you for who you are. But hey, if you're not sure, a short makeover session, set to a Sixpence None the Richer song, is usually all it takes to make dudes notice you.

Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982)

The story of Spicoli (Sean Penn), Stacy (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Linda (Phoebe Cates), and the rest of their friends at Ridgemont High, as they look for love, and sweet waves. 

The Lesson: Everybody actually lies about when they lost their virginity, so don't stress about yours.

Clueless (1995)

Alicia Silverstone stars at Cher, in a modern-day retelling of Jane Austen's novel Emma

The Lesson: Never overlook your stepbrother as a potential romantic match. 

The Breakfast Club (1985)

Five kids from five different high school cliques spend the day in detention, bonding over their shared dysfunctions. 

The Lesson: At the end of the day, the prom queen really isn't much different than the nerdiest kid in school, and Ally Sheedy looks really pretty with a headband on. 

Easy A (2010)

Olive (Emma Stone) become a real-life Hester Prynne after rumors spread that she'll sleep with anyone in school. But rather than fight them, she decides to capitalize off of them.

The Lesson: Rumors fly in high school. Also, bustiers are apparently considered appropriate school-wear at some high schools (definitely not ours).

Some Kind Of Wonderful (1987)

Tomboy Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) finds that she's falling for her best friend Keith (Eric Stoltz) just as he starts falling for the most popular girl in school. 

The Lesson: You always want what you can't have. It's a fact. 

Grease (1978)

Sandy (Olivia Newton John) and Danny (John Travolta) fall in love over the summer and meet up again in school. Will their love reignite? 

The Lesson: You should totally change who you are for a guy. (Just kidding, don't do this). 

Pretty in Pink (1986)

Andie (Molly Ringwald) is a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who must choose between her best friend Duckie (Jon Cryer) and her new rich boyfriend Blane (Andrew McCarthy). 

The Lesson: If you're Molly Ringwold you can make your prom dress out of a very ugly thrift store dress (but the rest of us should probably skip that).

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

In order to take her sister to the dance, Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) must find a date for abrasive Kat (Julia Stiles). It's a modern retelling of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew."

The Lesson: All crazy feminists need to chill out is a little Heath Ledger in their lives. 

Mean Girls (2004)

Cady (Lindsay Lohan) will do whatever it takes to get in with the most popular clique at school, The Plastics, even if it means completely losing sight of who she actually is. 

The Lesson: Don't ever, ever trust a bitch who tries to hand you a Kalteen Bar.

Can't Buy Me Love (1987)

Nerdy teenager Ronald (Patrick Dempsey) tries to buy his way into popularity by hiring the most popular girl in school to be his girlfriend. 

The Lesson: You can't buy friends or a hot girlfriend (but you can grow up to be McDreamy, which is its own best revenge).

Just One Of The Guys (1985)

Girl Terry goes undercover in a high school posing as a guy to see what being a high school boy is all about. The only problem? She start falling for her guy best friend. 

The Lesson: In real life, it takes more than just a pixie haircut to fool dudes into thinking you're one of them. 

Bring It On (2000)

Torrance (Kirsten Dunst) discovers her award-winning cheerleading squad captain stole her choreography from another school's squad, and must find an alternate plan for competing. 

The Lesson: Spirit fingers make everything better. 

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Ferris enlists his girlfriend Sloan and his best friend Cameron for an adventurous day off from school. 

The Lesson: If you want to get away with playing hooky, you're going to have to come up with a pretty elaborate series of in-home contraptions, just in case someone happens to stop by to check in on you. 

Can't Hardly Wait (1998)

Nerdy Preston (Ethan Embry) has been secretly in love with Amanda (Jennifer Love Hewett) all through high school, but waits until graduation to tell her. 

The Lesson: Maybe don't wait until the last possible second to tell someone you like them, hmm?

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