Text size
Text Print Share Email
Sep 10, 2008

As teens everywhere try to beat the bell, sit back and enjoy high school-themed double features that will stir up both nostalgia for days gone by and relief that you’ll never have to go through those years again.

By FLYP Staff

Rock ’n’ Roll High School & Cry-Baby
Roger Corman, king of the ’50s B-movie and teen melodramas, such as Teenage Caveman and Teenage Doll, serves as the inspiration for this double feature, as does the infectious sounds of early rock ’n’ roll.
With 1979’s Rock ’n’ Roll High School, Corman produces while the Ramones play themselves, putting their signature punk twist on classic ’50s rock music. The movie is a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek musical that serves as a pitch-perfect time capsule for the budding punk scene, featuring multiple musical performances from the now-deceased Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone.
Cry-Baby, John Waters’s 1990 follow up to his hit musical Hairspray, is a direct homage to Corman (even borrowing from the title of Corman’s Cry Baby Killer) as well as movies like Jail House Rock and Marlon Brando’s performance in The Wild One. Johnny Depp pokes fun at his “21 Jump Street” teen idol status in his breakout performance as Wade Walker, while Waters mixes all the ingredients with his distinct brand of grotesque, subversive humor.

Watch the trailers for Rock ‘n’ Roll High School and Cry-Baby.

The Breakfast Club &
High School
John Hughes’s 1985 The Breakfast Club and Frederick Wiseman’s 1968 High School are two very different films that examine the institution of the American high school and the pressures faced by teens who spend much of their formative years within its confines.
Voted #1 on Entertainment Weekly’s list of “50 Best High School Movies,” The Breakfast Club takes place during the course of one long Saturday detention in the library of a typical suburban high school. According to Hughes, the script, which follows the slow breakdown of the five main characters’ distinct social personas, was written in only two days. The shared humanity that develops between the students throughout the course of the film is shown to be a result of the distinct—albeit hardly unique—pressures placed on them by parents and teachers. The theme and structure inspired the recent documentary, American Teen.
Frederick Wiseman’s direct cinema masterpiece, High School, is a fly-on-the-wall observation of a Philadelphia high school in the late ’60s. Wiseman’s tactic of filming unobtrusively allowed his subjects to become virtually unaware of the camera. Their candid actions provide a startling look at the moral and social pressures put upon the kids by the school’s faculty. One student remarks as she apologizes for her short skirt that she “didn’t mean to be an individual.” The film was banned in Philadelphia until 2001 when the Northeast High students were finally able to see themselves on screen.

Watch the trailer for The Breakfast Club.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High & Dazed and Confused
Strong ensemble performances and a pastiche of archetypal characters help make Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Dazed and Confused two of the most memorable and hilarious films about the high school experience to date.
Fast Times is directed by Amy Heckerling (whose later ’90s teen flick, Clueless, is also a modern classic) and was adapted by Cameron Crowe from his book for which he posed as a student in order to observe the lifestyles of teens at a Southern California high school.
The film is chockfull of awkward and unforgettable moments, such as when Judge Reinhold is caught fantasizing about Phoebe Cates by Phoebe Cates, and surfer/slacker Jeff Spicoli (played by Sean Penn) has a pizza delivered to class.
Clearly inspired by its predecessor, Dazed and Confused is Richard Linklater’s follow up to Slacker, his gritty portrait of Austin, Texas.
Brilliantly capturing the zeitgeist of a small town in the ’70s, the film follows a bunch of bored teens on the last day of school as they smoke lots of pot and confront their pasts and futures through a variety of social exchanges.
Dazed utilizes a fantastic classic rock soundtrack and draws from the director’s personal experience to transcend time and place to tap into the bittersweet days of those teen years.

Watch the trailers for Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Dazed and Confused
Rushmore & Election

No high school would be complete without the high-spirited, obnoxiously ambitious overachiever.
Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), the protagonist of Wes Anderson’s stylized, quick-witted Rushmore, is noted by the school principal as being “one of the worst students we’ve got.” But academics aside, his ambition is revealed in the form of his undying affection for his prep school and the passion he displays as the president/founder of multiple clubs as well as the writer/director of various school plays. The character is irritating in the most charming way and proves remarkably sympathetic.
In complete contrast to Max Fischer is Tracy Flick (a Golden Globe-nominated performance by Reese Witherspoon) in Alexander Payne’s extremely dark comedy, Election. Flick is a type-A go-getter who will stop at nothing to become class president. As the film progresses, her teacher, Jim McAllister (played by Matthew Broderick)—whose enthusiastic involvement with his students masks his personal frustrations—becomes increasingly and inappropriately spiteful of Flick and all she represents.
Election’s bleak and bitter look at the political process through the lens of a small town public school was inspired by the Clinton-Bush-Perot campaign and a scandal involving a pregnant prom queen in Eau Claire, Wis.

Watch the trailers for Rushmore and Election.

Carrie & Elephant
In the course of adolescent development, most people will inevitably experience a varying degree of harassment from their peers. And while some quickly outgrow their “awkward phase,” others seem doomed to an extended torment—in the halls, showers and classrooms—that can define their high school experience.
This double feature presents protagonists who, after being pushed beyond their limits, retaliate in the most extreme ways.
While Carrie, the classic Stephen-King-novel-turned-Brian De-Palma-directed horror film, is the more fantastic of the two (SPOILER ALERT: the title character ends up destroying her entire class with her mind), Gus Van Sant’s Elephant is a meticulously realistic interpretation of the Columbine High massacre.
While Carrie’s tortuous locker room scene involving feminine hygiene products makes the film’s climactic revenge as satisfying as it is horrific, Elephant’s vapid teen population, cast almost exclusively with non-actors, dehumanizes the massacre and lends a shred of sympathy to the killers.
Carrie went on to become an iconic cult classic, and Elephant captured the Palme d’Or at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival.

Watch the trailers for Carrie and Elephant.


login or register to post a comment

Get the latest look at the people, ideas and events that are shaping America. Sign up for the FREE FLYP newsletter.