Back to School Movies

By: Maureen Lynch

Being back in school means that it’s time to get ready for all-nighters, too much homework, and little sleep. Personally, I deal with the stress by turning to movies. So, in the spirit of back-to-school, I compiled a list of 15 movies you can watch to relax during the semester. 

  1. Mona Lisa Smile: 

Set in the 1950s, this movie follows a professor (Julia Roberts) who comes to Wellesley College to teach art history to her students as they clash over their views on societal expectations for women. It’s one of my favorite movies to watch when I’m in the mood for everything- drama, romance, feminism, and humor. 

  1. Social network: 

This film depicts the rise of Mark Zuckerberg and how he created Facebook, and then how it kind of grew out of control. It’s an interesting study on this multimillionaire. Even if you hate Zuckerberg, I think the nerd in all of us loves seeing one of us shine. Also, it has some genuinely hilarious moments. 

  1. Love and Basketball: 

This movie follows the love story of Monica Wright and Quincy McCall, next door neighbors who both love basketball. The story follows the pair throughout their lives and their careers as basketball players. 

  1. St. Elmo’s Fire: 

80s film. Need I say more? 

This movie follows a group of friends fresh out of college and trying to figure out their relationships with each other and how they are going to make it. If you are scared about adulting and facing what is next, this movie leaves with the sense that no matter how complicated things get, you can still work it out. 

  1. Higher Learning:

This drama focuses on three freshmen as they navigate their first year in college at Columbus University. The movie tackles issues such as racism, sexual assault, and maturity all through the lens of what it means to receive an education. 

  1. Orange County: 

This movie is hilarious. Now I know, Superbad is amazing. But I watched this movie first, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. This film follows Shaun Brumder (played by Colin Hanks), an aspiring writer whose dream is to go to Stanford. And he gets in! Well, sort of. His transcript got switched with another student’s. Now Shaun, his insane brother, and his girlfriend. What could go wrong? 

  1. Good Will Hunting: 

This one is on my personal top ten list. I LOVE this movie! This movie was written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and tells the story of a poor kid from Boston who also happens to be a genius mathematician. Matt Damon plays the titular character, Will Hunting, who gets taken in by a professor at Harvard. But Will has more problems than just complex mathematical theory. And when he meets with Robin William’s character, a heartbroken therapist, the movie goes from being uplifting to a soulful exploration of academics, trauma, and the human condition. 

  1. Remember the Titans

Set in the 1960s Virginia, this movie looks at themes of racism through examining how T.C Williams high school football team integrates African American and white students. With a new head coach and tensions running high, Remember the Titans tells the story of how this football team won the state championships by learning to love each other’s differences. 

  1. Breakfast Club: 

This movie is one of my all-time favorites. It’s a John Hughes classic and features an ensemble cast featuring Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, and Anthony Michael Hall. This film follows five kids who get stuck in detention on a Saturday. They start off as strangers who run in different circles, but by the end of the day they have all grown into close friends. It’s a great story with dynamic characters. You won’t be able to look away. 

  1. Dead Poets Society: 

For those of you who are into dark academia, this movie is a must watch. Set in the 50s, this movie follows a group of boys who attend a private boarding school. Their English teacher (played by Robin Williams!), teaches them to understand the poetry and embrace their humanity in their strict academic lifestyle. This drama examines the pressures of education and how you can embrace your intellectual freedom. 

  1. Heathers: 

You thought you had problems? It’s nothing compared to Veronica Sawyer. She hates the group of girls whom she begrudgingly calls friends, especially Heather Chandler. She wants revenge, and with the help of her boyfriend, she plans to get it. But she never expected Heather to die. Now she and her boyfriend are tangled up in a Bonnie-and-Clyde style romance, but what happens when things go too far? This black comedy examines all the ugly parts of high school and how they can really screw a person up. 

  1. School of Rock: 

Jack Black has been in many iconic movies. However, I consider this one to be one of his best. In this movie Black plays Dewey Finn, a lazy musician who recently got kicked out of his band. Things change for Dewey when he accidentally picks up a call for his roommate and gets called in to be a substitute teacher. While “attempting” to teach the kids, he educates them on rock and roll music and he and the students form a band. 

  1. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: 

This comedy movie answers the question: what would you do if you cut class for a day? If you are Ferris Bueller, you go to museums, join a parade, and crash a car. The film follows Bueller and his friends as they go on one whacky adventure to the next. This movie has inspired a lot of love and laughter; you will not be disappointed.  

  1. Pitch Perfect: 

Everyone wants to find their place in college. In this movie, an assortment of girls are selected to be part of the Barden Bellas, an acapella group on campus. Beca, (played by Anna Kendrick), the protagonist, just wants to move to LA and become a DJ. But when she is chosen to be part of the Bellas, things get a little off track. She inspires the group to get creative, and it might just be what the Bellas need to stay together. 

  1. Bring it On:  

Cheerleading is no game, and Torrance Shipman knows this. This is her senior year, and it is her job to win her high school another national title in cheering. Unfortunately, Torrance’s plans fall through when she realizes the previous captain stole all their best routines from an inner-city school. 

Let us know what some of your favorite back to school movies are in the comments!

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