It’s that time of the year, kid’s are about to go back to school. That means all kinds of different things to everyone, whether it means doctors appointments, clothes shopping or a variety of other things. For me, I tend to think of movies that remind me of my school days, or at least a variation thereof. Let’s look at four examples, perhaps you’ll find some enjoyment in them and perhaps have your own favorites to add to the list and compare.
First and foremost on my list would be Grease, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. This is a timeless classic of a 50’s high school musical. It has the all the stereotypes of the time, complete with auto mechanics, car racing, budding beauticians and the inevitable foreign exchange student. The lesson that can be taken from here is to just be yourself. In the beginning, we find that Danny and Sandy had met during the summer and really hit it off. Too cool to admit this to his friends, Danny’s version of the story to them is somewhat different. Eventually Sandy shows up as an exchange student hoping to pick up where they left off, finding that Danny is way too cool for that in front of his pals. Eventually, Danny learns that he needs to just be himself. A typical 50’s style happy ending with great song and dance numbers, just about anyone born before 1995 will call this the original “High School Musical.”
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Here, we have a depiction of every stereotype out there brought to us in a way that only the late John Hughes can. At first glance, this looks like a movie that could have been filmed in a week as there were no elaborate sets, no special effects and very little filming (and I mean very little) outside the school where the movie takes place. The plot of this movie takes place in a school on a Saturday with five very different, yet stereotypical students serving detention for various transgressions. We will need and get to know the nerd, jock, princess, criminal and misfit. And if you want to add in a sixth, the principal was a pretty good one too. The message here is accepting differences and learning how to get along. The characters are very diverse, though they differ from Grease in that the characters did not define their generation. The “brat pack” as they had become to be known went on to film a few other movies with great success. This is the movie that defined that 80’s generation in all its anti-authority glory.
Back to School (1986)
Here, we have a hilariously funny movie that shows us not matter how successful you are, you still need an education. That is the advice the main character was given by his father, Thornton Mellon, played by Rodney Dangerfield. The main character Jason is the son of a wealthy businessman and attending a state university, however it’s not working out as he had planned. He doesn’t fit in, has few friends and is considering dropping out. After a surprise visit from his father, he tells him that he is quitting and in return his father tell him that “without an education he’s nothing.” Arguing that his father runs a major corporation with no college education, he is shocked to find out that his father has decided to attend college with him. This movie presents a variety of great messages, but the main one that I have always taken from it is that the real world operates very differently than the theories we study in college. Other stereotypes displayed in this movie are the glorification of the sports teams, wild parties and the typical “student falling for the teacher.” All in all, this is a great movie to learn just what life is all about…it’s what you make of it.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Another fun movie that contrasts from the other three I have described is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, starring Matthew Broderick. This is another masterpiece directed by the late John Hughes. Set in Chicago, as most, if not all of John Hughes’ films were, this movie teaches us that the most important thing in life is not popularity or success, although our main character has the both, it teaches us to “never get caught.” This is the classic story of the ultimate day of skipping school. Three friends devise a plan to skip school and stuff as much fun into one day as they possible can without getting caught. Through an elaborate network of computer hacking, automated dummies to simulate a sleeping student that stayed home, fake answering machines, and a wild goose chase that leaves the principal a little worse for wear. Another underlying message that one can take from this movie is to stand up for yourself, as displayed from Ferris’s friend Cameron who is at a mismatch with his father and out of rage destroys his Ferrari. This is a fun movie that can be watched over and over.
Well, there you have it, an evening’s entertainment with a back to school theme. Do my favorites appear on the list of your favorites? I suppose everyone has their own movies that appear educational or school-themed in nature. Sometimes we compare our own personalities and experiences to those in the movies. So, I ask you: which one are you, or which did you want to be?