The Worst High School Movies

So, when I was writing my post yesterday, I realized that there are a LOT of movies that focus on high school students. And a LOT of them are really really shitty. Because I never like to glorify a genre, I decided to make a list of movies you should only watch if you feel like stabbing yourself repeatedly afterward, or if you enjoy losing two hours of your life. Let's start with the least tolerable and work our way up:

How do you take an amazing movie like My Fair Lady and make it complete and total garbage? Set it in high school! Not only does the plot of this movie completely not fit the setting, but it is probably the most misogynistic thing I've ever seen. At least in My Fair Lady, Eliza DoLittle is working toward something of substance- it is actually helpful to be well-spoken and knowledgeable in the English language during turn-of-the-century England. In this movie, all she's working toward is being pretty, which can be done in a matter of minutes. Oh, look! The girl took her glasses off and lost all of her individuality so that somehow makes her a better person! I'll drink to that- but I'll probably puke afterward. Plus, somehow during the plot of the film, becoming pretty makes her art better. After she meets Zack, she gets scholarships to art school, as if outward beauty translates to creative talent. Someone please tell me how that makes sense. Or I just won't think about it and burn my VHS copy of this film. 

Another one of those films where superficiality is hailed and "geeks" get thrown by the wayside in favor of mini-skirts and Barbie-like mascara. There are a lot of things I don't get about this movie. 1) Why, if Drew Barrymore's character had such a terrible time in high school, would she want to relive it? No one wants to go back there. Especially not someone who was teased brutally. 2) How on Earth do the watchers of this movie not find her relationship with her teacher entirely inappropriate and creepy? Is he supposed to have some automatic intuition that she isn't actually a high school student? After all, she's supposed to be undercover, so I can't see why anyone would condone them going on a date without him getting fired. 3) If she is a high school graduate who has had a steady job for years, why would she want to date a high school jock who's probably underage? Can we spell L-A-W-S-U-I-T? What twenty-something would willingly start to fall for someone who isn't even old enough to buy a lottery ticket? I think the makers of this movie assumed that emotional maturity goes hand-in-hand with sexual maturity. Anyway, this movie is just wrong in so many ways.

I have no words to describe this movie. I just have so many questions. What high school puts their heaviest sports emphasis on swimming? Seriously. I've never heard of a school that has a "star of the high school swim team." I don't mean to demean swimming- it's a legit and taxing sport, but what the fuck? Also, if a psychotic Erika Christianson was stalking me after school, I would not remedy this by cheating with her! Who thinks that that's a good idea? And why doesn't he just tell someone instead of letting it affect his swim life? I mean, come on. The plot of this movie could have been solved in 10 minutes. It's called the "Block" feature on IM. However, like a lot of seemingly serious movies, I discovered that if you watch this as a comedy, it's pretty enjoyable. Try it sometime. You will be enlightened. 

I'm pretty sure that when it comes to this movie, you either absolutely love it or despise it, and I have to say that I am among the latter. I thought this was funny at times. But for the people who hail it as a high school movie are just mistaken. A quirky movie intended at a certain audience that has no plot and happens to take place in a high school, maybe. But honestly, I can't see myself being able to sit through this entire thing again. Scenes of it at a time, perhaps. I love the dance scene. I love the scene with LaFawnda. But it just doesn't cut it as a high school movie. It's too much, well, not like high school. There are no stereotypes to fall back on, no memories to recount. Just random bits of information made into a film with no resolved ending. Jeez. 

Yes, I get that this is a musical. I've seen it. On the fucking STAGE. I can admit that there are good movie musicals. Chicago is badass. Dr. Horrible is the shit. But I think it's the director's job to say, "Wait a minute, guys. Would this really look good on the screen? Let's think this through." And for this movie, the answer is a definite NO. All I wanted was for them to stop singing (which isn't exactly something you're supposed to want during a musical). God, just please make it stop. I want the beat to stop NOW. Now, I thought this was a really good musical. It got me very excited and wanting to dance. But the satire and blatant parody of the 1960s was lost on the screen in the attempt to portray realism. The thing is, you can't portray realism in a musical, because the truth is that no one really bursts out into song at all hours of the day. Musicals aren't supposed to seem realistic. That's why they are musicals. So something like this just doesn't sit right on the screen. Yet still, we get Mamma Mia! and Rent. When are they going to learn?

All I can say is, there's nothing like a good shitfest. 


The Movie Mistress


  1. have you seen the original hairspray? It was a movie by John Waters before it was a musical! You might like it--it's super strange and awkward. I liked it but wasn't sure if I should. I never saw this new hairspray so I can't compare, nor have I seen the broadway musical. Not sure how similiar they are to Waters' film.

  2. I must confess that I have soft spot for "Never Been Kissed," but that's only because I WAS Josie Geller in high school. So the whole movie is total wish-fulfillment for me.

    "Jawbreakers" wasn't a particularly good high school movie, either -- partly because all the actresses looked like they were in their late 20s-early 30s (because they were) and partly because it wanted to be "Heathers." Let this be a lesson: There never will be another "Heathers." "Heathers" is the poo.

    Oh, and just a note to say I'm adding you to my blogroll -- I really like reading your writing.