September is now upon us, and whether we’re 15 or 65 years old, it’s impossible not to associate this time of year with that dreaded (or anticipated) return to school. Here are five more movies (in no particular order) that perfectly capture the education system in all its grief, guts, glory, and grandiosity…
‘Dead Poets Society’ (1989)
If any movie has encouraged high school-aged kids to carpe the ol’ deum, it’s this one. The formula is an easy one: Robin Williams + private boys school + a bunch of deceased, pre-20th century scribes = emotional resonance, baby! More drama than comedy, ‘Dead Poets Society’ is guaranteed to appeal to your inner 15-year-old outcast.
Slight bias toward this film due to my cameo role as a khaki-sporting student (okay fine, I was a ‘blink and you’ll miss me’ extra). The premise: too-old-to-still-be-a-student Jeremy Piven goes mano y mano with the faculty of America’s most politically correct university (PCU, get it?). And he’s not above doling out the hijinx, I’ll tell ya that for free! Also, David Spade plays a diminutive d-bag, which is never not enjoyable.
Three friends. One end-of-senior-year high school party. One fake ID. What could go wrong? Well, pretty much everything – especially when the name on that ID simply reads, “McLovin.” Michael Cera and Jonah Hill are pitch-perfect as the ‘kind-of-popular-kind-of-unpopular’ kids we all knew (and possibly were) back in our teenaged years. And the party upon which they inevitably descend is eerily close to the ones we all attended back in the olden days. Nostalgia and humour? I’m in.
‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ (1986)
Sometimes the ideal high school movie is all about avoiding high school. Case in point, ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,’ which chronicles our title character and his quest to show his buddy and girlfriend a perfect day outside the hallowed halls of their educational edifice. Naturally, Principal Ed Rooney has something to say about this, making it his life’s – well, okay, his DAY’S – mission to take Bueller down once and for all. Bottom line: don’t mess with Ferris.
Winona Ryder and I are the same age, pretty much to the day. Maybe this is why I had such empathy for her role in ‘Heathers’ as the gal struggling to gel with the cliquy in-crowd. Of course, having handsome loose cannon Christian Slater (doing his best Nicholson impression) can’t hurt her chances of climbing the ol’ popularity ladder. Unless he, you know, starts killing everyone in sight. Yep, that’s high school for ya.