Movies are a cornerstone of western society and as a future academic there are a few movies you need to see by the time you get here. This list is by no means a list of the greatest cinematic masterpieces to ever come out, rather think of this list as a pop culture guide that will allow you to have something to talk about with your peers. This list is by no means ranking these movies, the numbers do not correlate to how good or bad a movie is. With that being said let’s begin.
First up on the list, SuperBad. This coming of age tale fits perfectly with the theme of this list. Watch as two high school seniors (Micheal Cera and Jonah Hill) navigate getting alcohol for a party hosted by popular girl (Emma Stone). The movie along with being one of the funniest moves to come out in the last 20 years explores issues of friends thinking about what life after high school might be like. Also you can’t Beat Seth Rogen and Bill Hader as cops.
9. The Breakfast Club
The first John Hughes movie on this list and it won’t be the last. The Breakfast club starring Emilo Estevez and queen of 1980’s highschool movies Molly Ringwald is set in an all day detention at the fictional Sherman high school. See as a cast of distinct characters from different walks of high school life bond over being stuck in the same boring detention.
8. Back to School
Back to school, released in 1986, features a prime Rodney Dangerfield. Watch as he plays a father who chooses to go back to school with his son Jason. The movie was shot at the University of Wisconsin Madison’s campus and this just gives it a really good college vibe. You really can’t go wrong when it comes to a Rodney Dangerfield movie.
7. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
A classic among a list of classics. Honestly if you haven’t seen this movie yet you may have been living under a rock. Another John Hughes film, this flick follows a young Matthew Broderick who plays Ferris Bueller, a high school kid looking to fake being sick and spend the day screwing around in Chicago with his friends. Will he get caught by his principle who is determined to catch Ferris in the act of playing hooky? Watch and find out.
6. Fast Times At Ridgemont High
Fast Times at Ridgemont might be the ultimate high school movie. With a plot that follows so many plot lines so well you’ll find yourself relating to almost every character in the movie. Based on the amazing story of Cameron Crowe, a teen who graduated high school at 16 then went and worked at Rolling Stone only to go undercover and re-enroll in high school to do a piece on it. The movie would get developed from that experience Crowe had during his re-entry in high school and would go on to be one of the best teen movies of all time. Fun fact about this movie it was Sean Penn’s debut roll.
5. Animal House
From the writers of National Lampoon comes Animal House.Would this really be a list of movies you need to watch before college if it didn’t include this movie? Follow this fraternity filled with goons and misfits as they challenge the authority of the dean of Faber College. Starring the late and great John Belushi this movie is like “the college movie” for all time. This slice of college life piece surrounding what college was like in the 1960’s oddly still resonates with audiences today. Truly a timeless classic that you need to see. 4. The Social Network
Alright nerds, this ones for you. This movie biopicing Mark Zuckerberg’s life and the emergence of Facebook. Watch the movie that every single one of your tech nerd friends told you about because it’s actually a pretty good movie. Jessie Eisenberg gives a great performance as Mark Zuckerburg and you get to see what the life of a Harvard student looked like in the mid 2000’s. Not the type of movie that you would think is as good as it is, but it’s pleasantly surprising.
3. 16 Candles
Yeah another John Hughes film. I didn’t even mean to put this guy on the list so many times but he’s the king of high school movies. 16 Candles, starring Molly Ringwald as (Sam) a 16 year old girl who’s birthday is forgotten by her family because her sister’s wedding is the day after. This film does a great job of encapsulating the idea of high school crushes and just the general pressure high schoolers face. Molly Ringwald delivers a great performance of what it’s like being a girl in highschool.
2. Pretty In Pink
Alright, this one wasn’t directed by John Hughes, but it was written by him and it does starr Molly Ringwald again, so it’s basically another John Hughes movie. And if at this point you’re asking yourself why does this guy have a bias for John Hughes films? You probably haven’t seen a John Hughes film before. John Huges and Molly Ringwald are essentially the Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen of the teen romcom genre, and just like the previous John Hughes movies on this list this one’s a banger. This film does a great job of emphasizing the cliche culture that can happen at some high schools. The climax of the movie happens at prom, of course, and leaves us feeling satisfied with the result.
1. Big Time Adolescence
The newest movie on this list features Pete Davidson, of SNL and dating Ariana Grande Fame, in his first ever leading roll. After having a great run at Sundance this movie toured around the nation before getting picked up by Hulu. It’s a great movie about the time right before college as the main character is a high schooler who became best friends with his older sisters boyfriend. Because of this he’s exposed to drugs, alcohol, and what life after college is like at a very young age. Give it a try.
And that concludes the list. Did I miss anything? Give me your suggestions in the comments below.
Jackson Wiberg is a student, comedian, and podcast personality. He currently attends school at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee where he is pursuing his bachelors degree in communication. He's toured his stand up routine around the midwest and when he's not working likes spending time with his family and friends. You can follow Jackson on his social media: @jackson_wiberg on all social media platforms, and you can listen to his podcast The Blockbuster Boys podcast, the number 1 rated college comedy podcast in the world, on Apple podcasts and Spotify.