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Back-to-school films we give an A+

The best days of your life, they said. Hmmm... perhaps not! Re-live the pain and the glory with Muddy's top 10 school films.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

10 things I hate about you

A rather charming retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew but thankfully devoid of the Elizabethan ideal of women as obedient pieces of property. This was Heath Ledger’s break out role and he gives it a full blast of charisma as the potentially sociopathic Patrick Verona with Julia Stiles setting the pace as spiky, feminist ‘shrew’ Kat Stratford. Twenty years old last year. Still brilliant.

Easy A (2010)

Easy A

Another comic adaptation of classic literature, this time The Scarlet Letter, as Emma Stone lies her way into a torrid tangle of high school rumours about whether she may – or may not – be sexually promiscuous. Brings back all the drama of those years when your sexual status was quite literally the most interesting thing about you. It seems ridiculous now but… teenagers, hey?

Grease (1978)


Grease is the sort of film you can have playing while you clean the house; you know every word so really you don’t need to hear it above the vacuum. Funny though, isn’t it, how you start off siding with Sandy but by the time you’re on your 31st viewing and over the age of 20, everyone’s a Rizzo girl. She’s got the best lines AND the best clothes, no?

The Breakfast Club (1984)

The Breakfast Club

“A brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal…” Hard to believe that cliques in American high schools are really this pronounced but John Hughes’ masterpiece The Breakfast Club has made it so in popular culture even if it’s not the case IRL. A story about the fragility of first impressions. And how the bad boy is always the hottest, naturally.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Bunk off school, ‘borrow’ a Ferrari, spring your love interest from class, schmooze your way into an upscale restaurant, outfox your suspecting school teacher, lip sync Twist and Shout on a carnival float in central Chicago. Standard day for me when I was at school tbh.

Clueless (1995)


The outfits! Cher’s electronic wardrobe! Paul Rudd as a heartthrob! So many surprises, not least the realisation that this most iconic of school teen movies is, in fact, Jane Austen’s Emma repurposed for a mid-nineties Beverly Hills high school.  

Mean Girls (2004)

Mean Girls

As screenwriter, Tina Fey did a stellar job of sending up the bitchiness we all encountered at some point in our school years. Whether you were either in or out of the ‘Cool Group’, the groundless hierarchy and devoted fealty given to the titular ‘mean girls’ will make you squirm with recognition. Rachel McAdams’ turn as hideous queen bee Regina George is a joy to behold.

Harry Potter (2001 onwards)

Harry Potter films

Forget back to school: it’s back to Hogwarts at our house. We’re currently at No.3 in the series and that means we’ve got approximately another 56 hours to go. But seriously, spells and menacing spectres aside, there is something so eternally romantic about packing a trunk and going off to boarding school. Particularly when you can take your pet owl with you.

Fame (1980)


The song and dance numbers are brilliant but, in my book, take second fiddle to the legwarmers in this jubilant and sobering tale about the quest for success from the performing arts students of a gritty New York City. NB: All drivers should be mindful of their bonnets when passing by dance schools.

Dead Poets Society (1989)

Dead Poet's Society

“O Captain! My Captain!” Standing on my desk at school wouldn’t have been classed as that deviant to be honest but I guess we all have different standards. A tale of a strict Vermont private school where a class of boys find freedom – albeit temporarily – from their repressed pre-1960s lives via the teachings of Mr Keating (Robin Williams). A weepie but a goodie.

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