15 Awesome Back-to-School Movies

I thought it would be fun to make a list of some of my favorite films that help me get excited for a new school year.
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School's just around the corner, but let's be honest -- leaving the pool and your cozy bedroom at your parents' house can have its drawbacks. But, along with cramming for midterms and sitting through boring lectures in class also comes hanging out with friends, football season, and a fresh chance to reinvent yourself.

One of my favorite things about school-related films is that they're often centered around just that -- self improvement and new beginnings. I thought it would be fun to make a list of some of my favorite films that help me get excited for a new school year.

Although some of them may take place on the last day of school, they all embrace some of our favorite reasons why we all love a new school year - new friendships, lasting memories, and personal growth - in funny, nostalgic, and touching ways. Let's get right to it:

1. Clueless

Clueless movie screengrab

Photo Credit: Movie Screen Capture

I still remember the first time I saw Cluelessand those fantastic plaid skirts, knee-high socks, and cardigans have been seared into my subconscious ever since. Growing up, the first day of school didn't feel right unless I wore some sort of plaid skirt and loafer combo, and I blame it on this movie.

This is the film that helped launch the career of several big stars today (like the amazing Paul Rudd) and will be remembered as one of the greatest high school films of the '90s.

Favorite Scene: When Cher and Dionne give Tai a makeover. Who doesn't love a good makeover montage?

For more on this film, check out our post on fashion from Clueless.

2. Dazed and Confused

Dazed and confused

Photo Credit: Movie Screen Capture

With an all-star cast, a killer soundtrack, and a warm and hazy nostalgic feel to boot, Dazed and Confused has been one of my favorite films for almost a decade now. I actually love how there's not much of a storyline to it - it reminds me of the fun, yet aimless nights I spent cruising around with friends in high school. You just gotta keep livin' man, L-I-V-I-N.

Favorite Scene: Believe it or not, the closing credits! I love how each character gets a few seconds in the spotlight, and it's perfect scored with Foghat's "Slow Ride."

For more, check out our post on fashion inspired by Dazed and Confused.

3. Dead Poets Society

Dead poets society

Photo Credit: Movie Screen Capture

I'm a literature nerd (and, you know...a sucker for cute boys with preppy-sounding names), so Dead Poets Societyis right up my alley. Unlike most of the other flicks on this list, Dead Poets Society isn't a lighthearted comedy. Prepare to think, and maybe even shed a few tears.

P.S. -  I totally plan on naming my future son Knox in honor of this film!

Favorite Scene: As Professor Keating leaves his classroom for good, his students all stand on their desk, saluting him farewell by shouting "O Captain, My Captain!"

For more on this movie, check out our post on fashion inspired by Dead Poets Society.

4. The Breakfast Club

The breakfast club costumes 2

Photo Credit: Movie Screen Capture

John Hughes blazed his own trail in The Breakfast Club, the standard of all great teen dramas. I remember seeing this movie several times on TNT when I was young, and being totally caught off-guard when I watched it on video for the first time at a friend's house - geez, they edited out a lot!

This movie launched the careers of many "Brat Pack" actors, and is thought of as one of the most classic high school movies of the '80s.

Favorite Scene: Lunch break, when they show the stark contrast between what each character brought for lunch. Subtle, but funny and a very creative way to help develop the characters.

For more, check out our post on fashion inspired by The Breakfast Club.

5. Fast Times at Ridgemont High

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Photo Credit: Movie Screen Capture

Fast Times At Ridgemont High was our parents' Superbad. Raunchy humor, hysterical dream sequences, and a launchpad for some of Hollywood's shining stars (hey, Sean Penn) all characterize this film. I also like this movie because of its large cast, memorable one-liners, and the ballsy (though controversial) way it dealt with tough teen issues.

Favorite Scene: When Spicoli and his friends open up their van, and a visible cloud of smoke wafts out. Too funny.

6. Grease

Grease screenshot

Photo Credit: Movie Screen Capture

Grease makes me think of, well, the awesome soundtrack! I remember my mom buying it for me at Target, and listening to it on my way to dance classes after school. The kids in my neighborhood were super into this movie too - we'd play the Pink Ladies and Greasers and dance to the hand jive!

Of course, we were to young to realize that Grease was actually a tad bit naughty, but as I got older, that made me love this movie even more.

Favorite Scene: "Greased Lightening" of course!

For more, check out our post on fashion inspired by Grease.

7. Remember the Titans

Remember the titans

Photo Credit: Movie Screen Capture

Remember the Titans is the epitome of an incredible sports story. It's nostalgic, has an amazing soundtrack, tells the beautiful story of how a town overcame bigotry, and HELLO - it features a young Ryan Gosling! I watch this movie at least twice a year; it's one of my all-time favorites.

Favorite Scene: I get teary-eyed every time they show that montage, scored by James Taylor's "Fire and Rain," of the community right after they win the game that gets them to the state championship. The joy of Denzel Washington's family and neighbors makes my heart swell, then is sharply contrasted by a (spoiler!) unexpected car wreck. It's powerful.

8. Mean Girls

Mean girls

Photo Credit: Official Promo Material

I think we can all remember going to see Mean Girls with a pack of girlfriends in theaters. At her peak, Lindsay Lohan was incredibly beautiful, and came off as so earnest and likable in her films. I'm fully rooting on her to make a healthy and epic comeback one day soon.

Tiny Fey's sassy comedy signature, plus the perfect supporting cast makes Mean Girls awesome. And, I think just about everyone can relate to an antic or two depicted in this movie.

Favorite Scene: The girls try to comfort Regina (Rachel McAdams), who's just been dumped. Karen (Amanda Seyfried) suggests they cheer up with some Taco Bell. Regina then storms out of the room grumbling about her "all-carb diet."

For more on the fashion from this film, check out our post on fashion inspired by Mean Girls.

9. She's the Man

She's the man screenshot

Photo Credit: Movie Screen Capture

Before Amanda Bynes hit this unfortunate rough patch, she was the wholesome and hilarious reincarnation of Lucille Ball: adept in both physical comedy and delivering one-liners with impeccable timing. She's the Man is a modern spin on a Shakespearean classic that is thoroughly entertaining and teeming with hot guys. Seriously. Every single male character in it is adorable!

Favorite Scene: The scene at the pizza shop where "Sebastian" flirts with a bunch of pretty girls and then epically dumps Monique, the evil ex.

10. American Pie

American pie cast

Photo Credit: Official Promo Material

Like many of the films on this countdown, American Pie centers around the end of the school year rather than the beginning. That doesn't make it any less exciting for this time of the year, though!

I remember sneaking into the theater to catch this R-rated flick when I was in middle school, and not getting most of the jokes, but loving the slapstick humor and goofball characters anyway. Nowadays, not only do I understand all of the raunchy humor, but I love the movie's theme of having new experiences and holding on to long-term friendships. Plus, I'm sure I'm not the only person who secretly enjoyed American Pie 2American Wedding, and American Reunion as well!

Favorite Scene: The last meal at Dog Years, when the four best friends discuss their friendship and what lies ahead for all of them at college. Boys being sentimental - ah, it gets me every time.

11. 10 Things I Hate About You

10 things i hate about you

Photo Credit: Movie Screen Capture

Based on Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew," 10 Things I Hate About You took the complicated web of lovers that Shakespeare is known for and mashed it into a funny, fast-paced, and utterly endearing teen comedy. Not only does this film star Julia Stiles, Alex Mack Larissa Oleynik, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the late Heath Ledger, but the dated-yet-awesome late-'90s fashion and pop culture references will leave you smiling.

Favorite Scene: Patrick (Heath Ledger) apologizes to Kat (Julia Stiles) by recruiting the entire marching band to accompany him singing "I Can't Take My Eyes Off You" on the football field in front of her entire soccer team.

12. High School Musical

High school musical

Photo Credit: Movie Screen Capture

Fact: I was WAY too old to be as interested in High School Musical as I was at the time. But, I grew up on Disney Channel Original Movies (Brink or Zenon anyone?) and was thrilled that they finally made one as awesome as the DCOMs of my childhood.

The songs are incredibly catchy, and who isn't secretly a fan of sing-alongs? Most importantly, though, High School Musical introduced the world to Zac Efron. Enough said.

Favorite Scene: The crazy-awesome synchronized basketball dance routine during "Getcha Head In The Game". Okay, you caught me. Really, any scene with Zac Efron and Corbin Bleu are my favorites!

13. Superbad


Photo Credit: Movie Screen Capture

I'll never forget the day I saw Superbad. It was actually the first weekend I was at college and the first of many outings I would have with my potluck roommate! This made the movie really cool, since the characters were the same age as me.

I love this flick because it introduced me to Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Emma Stone, Seth Rogan, and Bill Hader, all huge stars who I now totally adore. The funny and outrageous story hits the perfect balance between raunchy/shocking, and sweet/touching.

Favorite Scene: I die laughing every time Seth (Jonah Hill) tells Evan (Michael Cera) - in VERY graphic detail - exactly what his beef is with Evan's crush, Becca. Those pictures are totally disgusting, but I'm also very, very immature, so I find them absolutely hilarious. I am who I am, okay!?

14. Accepted


Photo Credit: Movie Screen Capture

Accepted was one of those movies that you were a little ashamed to admit to seeing in theaters, but once you went you were thrilled because it turned out to be totally hilarious. Accepted came out right as Justin Long, Jonah Hill, and Blake Lively's careers were exploding, which happened to coincide with my time at college, making this movie extra-special to me.

The film's insane premise, nods to classic college films like Revenge of the Nerds and Animal House, and warm-and-fuzzy moral of the story made it truly great.

Favorite Scene: When Sherman Shrader (Jonah Hill) screams like a girl after seeing a petrified body fall from the ceiling of the then-decrepit South Harmon Institute of Technology,

15. A Cinderella Story

A Cinderella Story

Photo Credit: Movie Screen Capture

I'll be honest: My parents had to drag me to see A Cinderella Story. At 15, the last thing I wanted to do was see a PG movie aimed at pre-teens with my mom and dad. To my surprise, this movie was fantastic.

This is one of those films that you want to watch if you feel down or discouraged about anything - it leaves you feeling empowered and excited for life! Not to mention, I was also a total Hilary Duff fangirl circa 2004, and this flick is genuinely funny.

Favorite Scene: Jennifer Coolidge plays the evil stepmother, and tricks Sam (Hillary Duff) into thinking that she didn't get accepted into Princeton. She brings Sam a plate of oatmeal cookies, which she describes in a very monotone voice as "sooooooo moist." Okay, maybe you have to see it to get what I mean, but I promise it's hysterical!

What Are You Favorites?

What movie gets you pumped up for a new school year? What were some of your favorite high school movies growing up? Did you watch Disney Channel Original Movies too? Who were some of your favorite actors or actresses from your childhood or early teen years? Let's take a trip down memory lane and talk about some of our favorite feel-good movies! Leave a comment and discuss!

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