17 Iconic Teen Movies That Will Give You Major Back-to-School FOMO

Caroline Olney | Aug 19, 2016 Movies

Maybe we're super gigantic mega nerds, but sometimes when it's back-to-school season for kids, we get a little nostalgic ourselves. Three-ring binders? Number 2 pencils? High school football games and busy hallways? We swear we only miss it sometimes, but when we do, we always dig into our queue of the best nostalgia-fueled high school movies to nurse our F.O.M.O. And honestly, can you blame us?

Since this is a yearly affliction for us, we've curated our queue to include only the best, most rose-colored films about school -- so basically, the ones that make us forget the terrible parts and only remember the good. Maybe it's not a great habit for practical purposes, but it's great for nostalgia. Trust us.

 

Image via Fotos International/Getty

  • 10 Things I Hate About You

    1

    Not only does 10 Things I Hate About You have the high school movie trifecta (quirky English teacher, cranky guidance counselor, and prom scene climax), it's based on a Shakespeare play. So that's like, quadruple school stuff, with a killer soundtrack to boot.

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  • A Cinderella Story

    2

    We don't want to say A Cinderella Story was the peak of Hilary Duff's career, but it was certainly a high point. Not only does it celebrate the era of AIM chats and flip phones, but it also has maybe the most iconic high school movie moment of all time: Chad Michael Murray kissing Hilary Duff in the rain during a football game. Swooooon.

  • The Breakfast Club

    3

    We've hit the '00s and the '90s, and if we're going to the '80s, the clear choice is The Breakfast Club. It's the movie that cemented the classic high school character tropes, and though we're not nostalgic for the detention part of high school, we do miss sliding though the hallways and unexpected friendships. 

  • High School Musical

    4

    Okay, yeah. Sorry. We know you (and the rest of the world) instinctively scoff at High School Musical, but we're not ashamed to admit we love it. It's the movie that launched our lifelong love affair with Zac Efron, and it shines a light on a part of high school that never gets the attention it deserves: the theater.

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  • Grease

    5

    Maybe it's true that Grease makes us more nostalgic for high school in the '50s than high schools today, but that's half the fun. Plus, it makes us believe we could dance like Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta, and that belief could take us anywhere.

  • She's All That

    6

    Aside from being practically perfect in every way, She's All That stars Freddie Prinze Jr., Paul Walker, Freddie Prinze Jr., and Usher. And Freddie Prinze Jr. It's also the pinnacle of '90s high school rom-coms (which is not as narrow a category as that makes it sound), and essential viewing for us every fall.

  • Clueless

    7

    Cher doesn't love high school boys, but we love Cher's high school life. Another one based on a classic high school English class read (this time Jane Austen's Emma), Clueless is about as close to perfect as you can get.

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  • Bring It On

    8

    Bring It On displays high school rivalry at its very best -- and that's even before we get to the incredible cheerleading. All 200 of the sequels are great, but we always go to the OG for pure fall factor.

  • Easy A

    9

    Does it count as a throwback if it's only a throwback to 2010? Whatever. Easy A was a classic the second it hit screens, and we probably have Stanley Tucci to thank for that. And Emma Stone. And the hilarious dialogue and the most high school of love stories ever. 

  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off

    10

    Okay! Yes! Technically Ferris Bueller's Day Off is about escaping high school instead of enjoying it, but whatever. It counts. You won't find a more charming tale of teens anywhere, we'll tell you now. And school is central to the story, even if it's not painted in the most positive light.

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  • Rock 'n' Roll High School

    11

    You've heard of School of Rock, right? Right. Well, Rock 'n' Roll High School is like that, but 25 years earlier. Also, instead of Jack Black playing a failed rocker, Rock 'n' Roll High School has the actual Ramones in it, so, yes. One of the best high school movies of all time.

  • Mean Girls

    12

    We mean, of course. We still take any excuse to watch Mean Girls, and to be totally honest, a list of great high school movies is an excuse sent from heaven. It'll give you your fill of cliques, gossip, and terrible Halloween costumes -- all things, we hope, you never had the chance to experience IRL.

  • Freaks and Geeks

    13

    Okay, look. We're sorry. Strictly speaking, Freaks and Geeks is a TV show, which, yes, means it doesn't belong on this list. But we couldn't help ourselves, okay? It's the perfect tale of the -- you guessed it -- freaks and geeks that lurk in all high schools, and we couldn't love it more. Plus, both seasons are on Netflix, which basically means it's one really, really long movie.

  • Dead Poets Society

    14

    You might have had great teachers, but you never had a teacher like Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society. Every time we watch this movie, we wish we could have had that -- and every time we watch it, we can.

  • The Craft

    15

    High school? Witches? Pure '90s camp? Are you kidding us? The Craft was a recipe for success from its inception, and it makes us want superpowers of our own. Even if it'd make us the weirdos.

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  • Billy Madison

    16

    Sure, Billy isn't exactly a teenager, but this recommendation comes directly from CafeMom's beloved copy editor slash '90s Adam Sandler film expert: "In Billy Madison, a high school teacher tells Billy during an academic decathlon that the audience is now dumber for having listened to his nonsensical, rambling speech. However, our lives are certainly a lot richer and full of LOLs after having viewed this flawless film countless times throughout our teen and even adult years. And talk about the back-to-school experience -- Billy does first through twelfth grade all over again in this '90s comedy classic."

  • Never Been Kissed

    17

    A movie that's equal parts cringe-worthy and swoon-worthy, Never Been Kissed is the story of an extremely awkward woman who actually gets to go back to high school for a do-over. It's charming and hilarious and makes us miss high school and feel grateful we're never returning at the same time.

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