7 Movies Every High Schooler Should Watch Before Graduation

Ella Krug, Online Editor

  1. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

In this relatable coming-of-age movie, Stacy Hamilton and Mark Ratner are busy looking for a love interest. Meanwhile, the stoner Jeff Spicoli, played by Sean Penn, is in a constant battle with Mr. Hand, who has no patience for the slacker’s escapades. Penn is credited with creating one of the most memorable characters in teen movie history, pulling off the whole look and voice one would expect a stoner to have. Other characters are working at the local mall, hoping to make enough money to buy a new car. Nicholas Cage also made his big screen debut in this film. Along the semester, the teenagers make shocking new discoveries about friendship and love. 


  1. Grease (1978)

Probably one of the most, if not THE most famous musical of all time. Taking place in the 50’s, good girl Sandy and greaser Danny fall in love at the beach but sadly, Sandy has to return home to Australia. Unbeknownst to Danny, Sandy’s family experiences a change of plans and decides to stay in the US, meaning Sandy has to attend the same school as Danny. Throughout the movie, the audience has to watch the trials and errors Danny has to go through to get Sandy back after acting too cool for her in front of his friends. Grease is full of iconic songs and hilarious one-liners that any Grease fanatic could quote. And on top of that, Grease recently turned 40, so go watch it!


  1. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

No movie could get any funnier than this one. This indie film follows an awkward teen who is learning to cope with the highs and lows of small-town life in Preston, Idaho. Napoleon has to deal with his interesting uncle who has to watch over him and his brother after their grandmother got injured in an accident. On top of that, his brother is busy finding love on the internet with glamorous Lafawnduh. But, Napoleon befriends the new kid (Pedro) and they soon embark on a mission to make Pedro the class president. Vote for Pedro!


  1. The Breakfast Club (1985)

A brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Everyone should know this classic movie and the infamous scene with Bender raising his fist in triumph. Five socially-different high schoolers have to endure a day of detention together in the library. This movie probes into deeper themes, including stereotypes, mental illness, and bullying. Viewers will laugh with the characters and cry as well as they learn that they’re not so different from each other after all. 


  1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

This film is based off the book, which I highly recommend reading. Charlie, a freshman, has always been a wallflower. But his life changes when two charming students come into play and befriend him. Through these people, Charlie experiences the joys of friendship, first love, and plenty of music (*cough* The Smiths *cough*). In this teenager world, all you need is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. 


  1. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) 

Every teenager has skipped school at least once. But have they borrowed a Ferrari and driven into Chicago to enjoy a beautiful spring day with an obsessed principal on their trail, determined to catch them in the act? That’s precisely what Ferris Bueller, played by Matthew Broderick, does in this quintessential film about cutting class with his best friend and girlfriend tagging along. Kudos to the director, John Hughes, who also directed a number of coming-of-age films including The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles. 


  1. Dazed and Confused (1993)

This film, set in the 70’s, follows a group of boisterous teenagers in Austin, Texas on the last day of school. The incoming freshmen are trying to avoid being hazed by the rising seniors while the seniors are looking forward to partying and hazing the freshmen. D&C stars many well-known actors, including Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, and Milla Jovovich. This movie screams what it’s like to grow up in a small town with not much to do but drive around with friends, get food, and party. The relatableness of Dazed and Confused and all the memorable quotes make watching it worthwhile. “You just gotta keep livin’ man, L-I-V-I-N.”