Donnie Darko: Richard Kelly’s directorial debut was an ambitious sci-fi that shot Jake Gyllenhaal into superstardom and left thousands of teenagers scratching their heads wondering what it all meant, but it’s crowning achievment has to be the single slo-mo tracking shot through Donnie’s high school. We meet his friends, the teachers, the school bully (who appears to be snorting coke...) and Jake’s future love interest, all set to the oddly apt strains of Tears for Fears. It’s one of the most perfect scenes in recent film history, settling nicely into the niche between the bizarre time-travelling plot and the pure weirdness inherent in high school.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off: An odd choice, as Ferris doesn't spend a second in school during the course of the film, but it's one of the highschool films. Who hasn't spent a mind-numbing maths class dreaming of going on the mitch with Ferris, Cameron and Sloane? It's such a pity that Ferris chose to skip on that particular day, as here's a glimpse of what was going on during the economics class:
"In 1930, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in an effort to alleviate the effects of the... Anyone? Anyone?... the Great Depression, passed the... Anyone? Anyone? The tariff bill? The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? Which, anyone? Raised or lowered?... raised tariffs, in an effort to collect more revenue for the federal government. Did it work? Anyone? Anyone know the effects? It did not work, and the United States sank deeper into the Great Depression. Today we have a similar debate over this. Anyone know what this is? Class? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone seen this before? The Laffer Curve. Anyone know what this says? It says that at this point on the revenue curve, you will get exactly the same amount of revenue as at this point. This is very controversial. Does anyone know what Vice President Bush called this in 1980? Anyone? Something-d-o-o economics. "Voodoo" economics."
The Breakfast Club: It's a tough choice between this and Pretty In Pink for the mandatory John Hughes flick, but for pure iconic status, it's gotta be this one. For honing in on the accuracy, and the stupidity, of school stereotypes (the jock, the princess, the weirdo, the nerd and the drop-out) and for the line "Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?", you can't beat it.
Clueless: It's been over a decade since Cher and Dionne shopped, gossiped and match-maked their way through high school, and the Valley-Girl vernacular is ridiculously outdated, but Amy Heckerling's sharp update of Jane Austen's Emma is still as funny as ever. Some of the fashion choices are priceless and it's high time "Betty" and "Baldwin" were brought back as synonyms for good looking people! Or maybe not. But hey, if we're ever faced with a tough opponont in a debate, we have Cher to look to for inspiration.
Mean Girls: Probably the best high-school film ever made. Certainly the best movie Lindsay Lohan ever made. And, wait for it, my favourite comedy of all time.
"You got your freshmen, ROTC guys, preps, J.V. jocks, Asian nerds, Cool Asians, Varsity jocks Unfriendly black hotties, Girls who eat their feelings, Girls who don't eat anything, Desperate wannabes, Burnouts, Sexually active band geeks..."
Sadly, "Fetch" ain't never going to happen.