Friday, August 10, 2007

Top Ten High School Movies of All Time

I was watching American Graffiti last night and I was wondering where it would fit in to my Top Ten High School Movies list. Fuge over at the Duffless Foundation just did a tribute to the 20 year anniversary of the drop of Appetite for Destruction, calling it the best album of his lifetime, which prompted me to request the Top 10 albums of his lifetime list(and the Top 10 of his music conscious lifetime 10 yrs old give or take). I made my own lists in the comments, which reminded me how tough these lists are. Unless you cop out and include an honorable mention list, you are dissing from several to dozens of qualified candidates depending on the list content. My albums list had 25 teams tied for 11th which I had to leave off. I have fewer tied for 11th on the High School Movies list, but there are several worthy candidates that got bumped. So here goes:

10. Wildcats
9. Just One of the Guys
8. Pretty in Pink
7. Pump Up The Volume
6. Dazed and Confused
5. Three O'Clock High
4. Fast Times At Ridgemont High
3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
2. American Graffiti
1. Breakfast Club

(Also, fuck Blogger and fuck YouTube. I spent about two hours picking clips and funny remakes done on each of these and they totally hosed me when I went to publish the post. So I redid it and they hosed me again. Is there a limit on how many embedded videos you can have on one post?)


The Practical Slacker said...

It's the sport of kings, better than diamond rings, that's why we're here to sing. Football.

Dan said...

U.G.L.Y. You ain't got no alibi. You ugly. You momma say you ugly.

Anonymous said...

1. dazed and confused
2. Fast times at ridgemont high
3. sixteen candles
4. Election
5. breakfast club
6. American Pie
7. heathers
8. can't buy me love
9. Ferris bueler's day off
10. Mean girls

I'm guessing superbad will easily crack that list based on what i've seen so far.


Dan said...

Forgot about Election. That was a good one. I'm very psyched for Superbad.

The Practical Slacker said...

I had forgotten about Can't Buy Me Love.

*breaking into African Anteater Dance*

Dan said...

You shit on my house! You shit on my house.

Dearest Cupcake said...

Clueless is a personal favorite of mine. As well as Repo Man - great punk rock soundtrack. P.S. this is important enough that I´m commenting from another hemisphere.

Dan said...

nice! you're probably literally sending packets through internet tubes through the mountains. old school.

kyletractor said...

Great list... 'Summer School' would crack my personal top 5.

Dan said...

y'know, I'm looking at this list and the reality is that I think 3 O'Clock High is my favorite high school movie of all time. I don't know why I let it drop to # 5. Gotta love a movie that features brass knuckles prominently.

Dan said...

ooh. summer school. great call. great conglomeration of misfits.

Jeannette said...

Having seen all these movies Id say this is a great list.

Dan said...

thanks, but where do you think 3 O'Clock High ranks?

akboognish said...

I've got a hard time with Dazed and Confused not being on the top of your list, VTK. I'm glad N-Lo's got it up there. It's definitely a better movie than Three O'Clock High. Although, given your Rocky (1 - 6) obsession, I suppose I can see how Three O'Clock High would make the list--but for that spot I think I'm going with My Bodyguard.

I don't know if Superbad is going to live up to the hype. Hope so. But if you want to see a fairly perfect marriage of Rushmore and Election, with a little Royal Tanenbaums and Napoleon Dynamite thrown in for flavor, check out Rocket Science. Stumbled on it tonight as sort of a compromise (S probably wouldn't have stayed awake through Stardust, Sicko, the Simpsons, or Harry Potter--all on my list of movies to go see) and was pleasantly blown away. Go watch it. Now. In fact, it's making my list.

Speaking of Rushmore, I'm shocked that this masterpiece is not on either of the lists so far. That's a strong #2 for me. Maybe even #2 on the all-time list, as well. (Yes, that would mean D&C would have to be #1 on the all-time list, too--again, maybe).

Breakfast Club? Yeah, it's up there, but I did (and still do) have a problem with the lack of reality in the freaks in that movie. Ally Sheedy's character going all pretty and ending up with the jock? Judd Nelson as the bad-boy? All of these actors, and John Hughes, were clearly normals so the only really good characters were the normal ones (well, the geek isn't bad, and maybe Emilio as the jock was a roll reversal for him, but still...). Far from perfect, the same way all of his movies were. Don't You Forget About Me almost gets it into the top ten, but not quite...

I have to confess to having not seeing American Graffiti in so long I forget what happens. I wish I could watch it before I put my list down, but that's not happening soon.

So here goes:

10. Pump Up the Volume
9. Better Off Dead
8. Election
7. Rocket Science
6. My Bodyguard
5. Heathers
4. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
3. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
2. Rushmore
1. Dazed and Confused

I've been debating Red Dawn, but since only the first scene takes place in high school and since it's a crazy right-wing paranoia fantasy, I'll leave it off. But it would otherwise be tied for 10.

Dan said...

oh, mary, joseph, and their carpenter son, I'm too drunk to respond to that fully. but I will say, great call on My Bodyguard. And I will respond to all of your points in full at a later time or date. But the one point that I'll make right now is that American Graffiti was the template for Dazed and Confused. Maybe I should have flipped them, but I was fresh off a viewing of the AG, so I didn't. This list is not set in stone.

oh, and the other point that I need to make at this point is -=-=- when was the last time you saw 3 O'Clock High. Watch it again. genius movie right there.

a more reasoned response to come tomorrow...

Jeannette said...

You're should so email that pretty in pink woman. You could father her 10th and 11th babies.

Jeannette said...

And I accidentally put a link to your blog on mine.

Dan said...

I can't fully define my fascination with her at this point.

akboognish said...

I have to confess that it's probably been 20 years since I saw Three O'Clock High or American Graffiti, so both of those will be viewed asap, based on this post.

I had heard that Linklater set out intentionally to make an American Graffiti for the 70's. Can't wait to watch it but I pretty much guarantee it's no Dazed and Confused for the simple reason that George Lucas is a cheeseball and it's about 1962.

Pretty in Pink Momma is much deserving of fascination. Something tells me that she's got a less tame story along the same lines as that one...

Duffless said...

I might have to make my own list, but 16 Candles and Some Kind of Wonderful would easily bump Pretty in Pink. I think Last American Virgin would also get a nod. Ferris B, would also get the boot.

Dan said...

OK, I am now sober and able to comment intelligently (or at least coherently). Rushmore is, of course, a tremendous movie. An oversight only because I guess I mentally categorized it differently - prep school movies (Rushmore, Dead Poets Society, School Ties, etc) seem like a different category than public school movies. But I guess that's not totally fair to differentiate them so I'm going to have to include that in the Top Ten.

I wouldn't describe my affinity for the Rocky series (I - III, IV and V are more kitsch appreciations, I haven't seen VI) as an obsession. It certainly has nothing to do with my appreciation of the legitimately awesome 3 O'Clock High.

As I said, part of the reason for D&C and AG's placement was that I though AG was the template for D&C and I had just seen AG. They're probably off by a spot or so.

As for Breakfast Club, I think you may be looking too critically at it. It's not a piece of pure realism. The characters are hyperbolic for effect. How can you not like John Bender's character? He's iconic.

I look forward to the revised akboognish list, after you've seen AG and 3OCH again.

Some Kind of Wonderful is a great one too. And while we're discussing the movies that didn't make the list, Can't Buy Me Love might be my favorite that's not on my list. My revised list that is:

10. Wildcats
9. Pretty in Pink
8. Pump Up The Volume
7. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
6. Rushmore
5. Dazed and Confused
4. American Graffiti
3. Fast Times At Ridgemont High
2. Three O'Clock High
1. Breakfast Club

(Just One Of The Guys got the boot because it was only really on the list because of Joyce Heyser's epic boob flash, the seminal flash of that era. Wildcats is a better all around high school movie. Ferris got knocked back a few spots because the high school part of it is pretty minimal, though memorable.)

blythe said...

yes, better. because i am an elitist, i certainly identify more with the "prep school" genre.


Dan said...

well. I'm glad you approve.

Dan said...

oh shit! timely programming: AG and D&C are playing back to back right now on Encore.

akboognish said...

Interesting. I think the common theme in a high school movie isn't so much that a lot of it take place in high school(although that helps) but that the social relationships are high school based. So movies about angsty teenagers that are about summer relationships (like Meatballs or Dirty Dancing) are excluded. And I would think that this is why we're (mostly) excluding from consideration the pure sports movies that involve teenagers, like Hoosiers and Bad News Bears (although I see Wildcats having some staying power in your list, VTK). Perhaps then the boarding school version of the prep school movies are rightly excluded: they're almost more of a hybrid between a camp movie and a high school movie. But Rushmore is right in there with the others: the private school adds a variable to the movie, but no stronger a variable than the outdoor schools of the so-Cal movies (which I always thought were exotic).

As for Ferris, it fits squarely in this category because it's as much about the angst and alienation of being a teenager (in a fantastic and ironic way) as it is about taking a day off from school; the relationships are all defined by school; the whole movie is very conscious of school (or its absence); and of course, the classroom scenes are as genre-defining as Star Wars is for space movies.

I knew you had Just One of the Guys on there for the very memorable boob shot. Pump Up the Volume definitely gets an enhancement for the same reason.

Duffless raises an interesting sub-debate on which John Hughes movies (of the high school ones) are better than the others. I've got Ferris Bueller on my list, so that's #1 for me. Followed by Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, Some Kind of Wonderful, and Weird Science. I think most folks think of Some Kind of Wonderful as a failed attempt to reverse the sex roles of Pretty in Pink. Harry Dean Stanton, Molly Ringwald in her most classic role, and Ducky as the third wheel get Pretty in Pink over Sixteen Candles, which suffers from the ending (which apparently John Hughes wanted to be different but focus groups forced on him).

Last American Virgin? Wow, Duffless. Aside from it being a little outside of the genre (if I remember if correctly it's more in the Risky Business / Porky's genre) it was never high on my list. What's it got going for it other than more sex than normal in this genre?

Finally, the more I think about Better Off Dead I have a hard time defending it next to Breakfast Club. I like it better than Can't Buy Me Love, Just One of the Guys, American Pie, and a couple of the John Hughes movies, but I'm going to replace it with Breakfast Club on my list (which I will hold off on updating until after I see 3OH and AG).

akboognish said...

Check out for Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 best high school movies. Clueless, Boyz in the Hood, and Rebel Without a Cause (I guess that was about a high school kid!) are the big differences between their list and the various ones in this post.

Dan said...

I think PUTV stands on its own, but the boob shot was second only to Just One of the Guys.

Movies I totally forgot about on that list:

The Virgin Suicides
Karate Kid
Peggy Sue Got Married
Donnie Darko

They're all competitive (i've now completely abandoned my purist non-honorable-mention stance), but I don't know if they break into the top 10. I'm a little miffed that they didn't rank Wildcats in the top 50. That's a major oversight.

I just watched AG and D&C back to back and I have to say: I like D&C better. I'm flipping them on the 4 and 5 spots but not making any other revisions at this point.

Dan said...

also, I didn't think Clueless was that great. Definitely the most overrated on that top 50 list.

Jeannette said...

Um, Clueless was awesome! Dont you remember the computerized closet that matched her plaids? Me and my friends were sure that's what high school would be like. Cell phones, smokin pot, scoring with your hott step-brother...

Now I understand why you schooled me at that 10 Things I Hate About Jesus in Alphabetical Order game, you love to list.

And I guess junior high doesnt count, but Over the Edge was an excellent movie.

Dan said...

I schooled you at that 10 Things I Hate About Jesus in Alphabetical Order game because I'm very critical of Jesus. He could have been one of the greats.

Duffless said...

I think there is a difference in what is Literal and what is Technical. Literally, many movies are "High School Movies", however, when I think of "highschool movies" i tend to think of more guilty pleasure, 80s type movies. So while I'm a huge fan of Rushmore, and I love Donnie Darko, they are almost too good to make my list. Additionally, I might be the biggest Summer School fan I know, but I don't think of it as a "high school" movie as they are totally in, you guess it, summer school.

I think more of movies like 16 Candles, Breakfast club for the 80s, and for the 90s, I think of movies like She's All That, 10 Things I Hate About You etc. Basically movies that would be spoofed in a movie such as Not Another Teen Movie. However, that movie also spoofs American Beauty, which I place in a category of "good" movies like Rushmore and Flirting. So I don't count those movies. Then you have movies like Say Anything, which would count, but clearly he was wayyyy older than high school.

To the person who discounted Last American Virgin, I beg you to go back and revisit it, it predates Valley Girl etc, and is very much the grandfather of movies like American Pie. I think its very much a teen movie/high school movie like Just One of the Guys, however a tad more serious, given the whole abortion subplot.

I'm a giant Ducky fan, as well as a Harry Dean Stanton Fan, and I just think that Pretty in Pink suffers because the guy she winds up with is so lame. I loved Ducky, and while its not realistic for her to wind up with him(as much as I'd love, being I'm a perpetual"best friend") I really think she would have been much better served winding up on her own. John Hughes tried to make up for this in Some Kind of Wonderful, and I think it was a great attempt, I love that movie too, and I just have a softer spot in my heart for it.

Better off Dean is a top 5 movie of all time for me. I love this movie. LOVE IT. Yet for some reason, I don't think of it as a High School movie. Not sure why. But since its been pointed out as such it will clearly make the list.

I also will have to leave out movies I love in the traditional sense, like can you think of a better highschool movie than "To Sir with Love?" Great Film, but doesn't fit with the spirit of this list. Ps. I'm drunk.

Ok, so here's my list, in no order.

10. Dazed and Confused
9. Better Off Dead
8. 16 Candles
7. Last American Virgin
6. Some Kind of Wonderful
5. Teen Wolf - for the Gym teachers quote
4. Fast Times
3. Heathers (good call whomever picked this)
2/1.Winona Ryder tie, Lucas & Welcome Home Roxy Carmichael

Honorable mentions: 10 Things I Hate about YOu (go Larry Miller!) and Drive Me Crazy (a guilty pleasure)

ps. did I mention I'm very drunk?

Duffless said...

ps. I'd also like to give Clueless an honorable mention. I love that movie, I even own it, and not because Paul Rudd is in the "Spank Bank"

Dan said...

Better off Dean is a crap movie.

Duffless said...


Ha ha ha ha ha

I've never seen Better Off Dean, but I will avoid per your recommendation.

Lauren 02143! said...

Rushmore = hands down #1.

Dan said...

O R you (sure)?

Duffless said...

OR they?

VTK, don't forget you need to see Outside Providence!

It can be another addition to the prep school genre.

Dan said...

10 Things I Hate About You, Mean Girls, and Sugar and Spice are all on tv tonight. What a high school movie weekend!

kyletractor said...

duffless, I'm not entirely sure, but I'm willing to bet that upwards of 70% of 'Summer School' involve scenes that take place in a classroom at a high school. How can you consider that not a high school movie?

Duffless said...

I think its like how we didn't talk about rushmore etc, because they are more prep school movies, so I ruled out Outside Providence as well. I tried to keep in the Spirit of the list, which I think is about movies that try to capture the angst etc of the highschool experience, ie cool kids against nerds etc, cliques etc. Summer School too me was more of a comedy about being stuck in school over the summer, but really wasn't about the high school experience. I mean we have to draw our lines somewhere, I like Summer School more than some of the movies that did make my list - but I decided that I would stick with movies that were set in high public schools during the school year, so American Graf. didn't even make the cut. If you cast too wide a net you wind up including stuff like Harry Potter if you think about it.

You were a black vietnam vet in 1968? War does strange things to a man.

Lauren 02143! said...

"I saved Latin. What did you ever do?"

Anonymous said...

I have to ammend my original list, gladly replacing ferris bueler (never liked it but it was undeniably a momentous movie and an iconic character to appropriate dan's bender description)

so my hon. mentions:
Ferris Bueler's Day Off, Mean Girls, Donnie Darko, Clueless, American Grafitti, Summer School, Rushmore, Three O'Clock High, Just One of the Guys, Teen Wolf, Pump up the Volume, My Bodyguard, Better Off Dead, Some Kind of Wonderful, Pretty in Pink, Dead Poets Society, School Ties, Valley Girl, Last American Virgin

My list (today anyway hahaha):

1. dazed and confused
2. Fast times at ridgemont high
3. sixteen candles
4. Election
5. breakfast club
6. American Pie
7. Heathers
8. can't buy me love
9. The Karate Kid
10. Lucas

This was fun.

kyletractor said...

duffless... point taken.

Larry. What do you want?

A bed.

He wants a bed.

Dan said...

I assume that anon amendment was from N-Lo, since the lists are identical 1-8.

Great comments all around, VTKids. Kudos.

fuge said...

Ok, I need to get in on 10 High School Movies...this is right in my wheel house, it's like throwing a fastball out across the middle of the plate...

Now I'm going to Not include movies like Karate Kid, because even though they are clearly high school movies...they really work into sports movies.

And Dazed and Confused I almost Excluded because of the fact that almost none of it took place in high school...

But anyway, here we go Casey Kasem Style. I'll gladly pontificate on any of these at a later date:

10 Lucas
9 Some Kind Of Wonderful
8 10 Things I Hate About You
7 16 Candles
6 Just One Of The Guys
5 Can't Buy Me Love
4 Last American Virgin
3 Fast Times
2 Dazed and Confused
1 Breakfast Club

fuge said...

although now that I think about it...Replace Some Kind Of Wonderful with Better off dead, but move it up to 5, and slide everything else up.

How I could forget that, i should have read through all the comments before posting myself.

Dan said...

good list, but where does Just One Of The Guys place without the boob shot? Not that I'm in any way suggesting that the boob shot should be eliminated, but what if it's on UPN on a Sunday afternoon? Of course, you're still watching it, even though you know that the money shot will be cut - we all are - but is it one of the 10 greatest high school movies of all time (7th on your revised list)?

fuge said...

I still think it qualifies...It's a good movie, the younger brother character Buddy is tremendous. William Zabka makes an appearance...and it's just a good movie...

Of course Joyce Heyser's breasts are the single greatest things to come out of the 80's...right ahead of Cynthia Gibb's Breasts in Youngblood, so without them, I will knock it down to lower in the list...But I'm assuming I'm watching these all on Premium Cable...thus have all nudity and swear words.

Dan said...

Buddy was a great character.

akboognish said...

Saw Superbad this weekend. Very funny, and very good, but not in my top ten.

Dan said...

haven't seen it yet, but I'm looking forward to it.