The Best High School & College Movies – Laser Time

Headed back to school? We’re sorry. Avoid the educational blues by listening to our roundup of the very best high school and college movies!


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37 thoughts on “The Best High School & College Movies – Laser Time

  1. This isn’t necessarily the best but 2006’s Accepted gives me the feels. I had recently graduated undergrad a little before the film was released. Freshly out of college, I thought the flick was a decent watch and gave me some perspective. Granted it’s a straight rip off of Camp Nowhere but the college angle did make me question if my 4 years spent learning at a higher institution was worth it. Was also cool seeing Jonah hill before he blew w/ Superbad. He had that bit part in 40 year old virgin, the year prior but this film he was prominent in.

  2. My favorite School movie is “Lost and Delirious” imagine if Gone Home didn’t suck and had a realistically sad ending and dealt with complicated gay/closted relationships in a none BS manner, it’s wonderful. Also this may be a bit of an odd one but I really liked “School Daze” other than Crooklyn it’s the only SPike Lee movie I liked and made me consider going to Howard in DC despite being Jewish.

    1. I abruptly dropped outta high school and went the GED/college route when I turned 16 so I never got far into “clicks” but High School Diana sounds like the straight verysin literally every girlfriend/hook I had in high school no offense but no makeup, flannel and an attitude are kinda the gay chic bat signal. Also speaking of Mean Girls gay duder from that movie was in something called Bully a Nick Stahl movie based on a true story about a HS Bully who’s killed by his tormentors which were mostly guys he sorta sexually assualted and fat kids, it’s really good

    2. Also I mixed up Spike Lee’s School Daze with John Singleton’s “Higher Learning” w/ IceCube, Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks, which is the one I really liked School Daze was the one I hated.

  3. In regards to classmates dying, I had a classmate’s sister die an accidental death when I was in Grade 5. Apparently she used to babysit a lot of the girls in my class so every girl – except me, it’ll become clear in a minute – was crying. I just moved to the neighbourhood a year before and didn’t know anybody all that well so I shrugged. I wasn’t the best at the empathy back then. Every girl, including me for some reason ,got to go to the library where there was hugging and crying. We all had to make cards for the funeral and I all I could think about was this one time in computer room at school. We had to write about ourselves for some assignment and the classmate was sitting beside me. I glanced at her screen for a second. She had written “I have two sisters and they are both really ennoying!!!!” I told her that she had spelt annoying wrong. I’ve always pointed out mistakes on other people’s work, but I’m terrible at editing my own stuff.

    Our local newspapers had headlines about “Friends and Family weeping for the Teen Angel” and she got a scholarship named after her. Nobody else tried to die as far as I know. However, that’s when I learned that the living tend to lionize the dead, especially when they are a white, pretty teenage girl.

  4. Ya’ll are really drinking the kool-aid on Ferris Buller “Yeah he’s a twat but he’s so cool!” “Yeah he steals but he’s so cool” “Yeah he doesn’t try hard but he’s so cool!” I have 0 tolerance for that bull shit where people can get away with being shitty and lazy and everyone still loves them, really drives me up the wall. It’s some Uncharted/Jack and the Beanstalk “The Protagonist is always the good guy” bull shit and you’d think grown ass adults would see right through that bull shit and not make excuses for and enable it 🙄.

  5. I’m so glad you guys praised Mean Girls and Real Genius which would have probably been my first choice in the high-school and college categories. A weird movie that has a place in my heart is 1998’s Can’t Hardly Wait. Which has a dynamite cast and is about the last day of High School, we have the different types of people (jocks, nerds, stoners etc) and I really related to Seth Green and Ethan Embry’s characters. It’s brilliantly directed and written by the people who did Josie and the Pussycats which is a comic adaptation that is grossly underappreciated!

    As far as college movies goes nothing really tops Real Genius, that’s Val Kilmer at his finest and when I developed my crush on Michelle Meyrink one of the funnest characters in cinema.

    1. Can’t Hardly Wait is one of my FAVORITE teen movies! I wouldn’t have picked it over Ferris Bueller, but if we ever do a part two I may just pick that one.

  6. Real Genius, wow was the MC’s girlfriend damn hot. I saw that several years ago and eyes were hearts. Val Kilmer was pretty cool. Another movie that the syndication aired around the same time was “the Freshman”, which had Matthew Broderick start college at NYU where his best friend is played by Frank Whaley. I thought it was a cute movie, and the part that got me was the dude from the Jefferson’s yapping about the Godfather like it’s the greatest thing ever.

  7. I’m going to blow your minds with pure cognitive dissonance. That’s beacause my two favorite high school movies are School Ties and The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. School Ties is a deeply moving film about Antisemitism and just how horrible racists are. If you watch that movie as a double feature with a Gentleman’s Agreement… well let’s just say you will get a good idea with what Jews had to go through in the 50’s and why we have such strong feelings about today’s climate.

    The other movie is a fascinating oddity that needs A LOT of explaining. So Haruhi Suzumiya is a franchise centered around a high school club inhabited by a normal high school boy, a clumsy time traveler, an esper (whose main roles in the series is either gay panic or exposition), and an alien robot. All of those members gathered in a club because there is a girl , Haruhi herself, who basically has the powers of a divine being who can rewrite reality according to her wishes. Despite this crazy setup the show is actually fairly dull. The movie however is this incredible feat of animation (it’s the second longest feature length anime of all time currently) that tells the only truly emotional story of the entire show. Haruhi is this weird artifact of early 2000s anime, and while those days were frankly dark days for anime, the movie is a fascinating oddity of what happens when the thing your world revolves just disappears.

  8. Edge of Seventeen is one of the best high school movies for sure, and a modern classic. I definitely recommend checking it out for those who haven’t. It feels real, it’s got great performances, and it’s a lot of fun.
    Superbad is also pretty damn good, and when I watched it with a group of friends in senior year, we laughed at how we had some of their conversations almost verbatim.

    Heather is FUCKING AWESOME. The first time I watched it I was shocked and how frank and dark it was, and it was kind of painfully accurate and hilarious at the same time. I’d say it does definitely still have relevance today. During my high school tenure (2010-2014), two people who were very close to a lot of the school (one via sports teams, one via elementary school and keeping in contact with others despite entering a different high school) killed themselves, and the reactions always sickened me in the way they do in this. The teachers don’t understand bullying or depression at all, so they make a big stink around the time and parade the issue around, but then drop off and don’t take action to actually combat the problems – just like the faculty, the parents, and the priest in Heathers. Closer to home, a year after graduation, a mutual friend took his own life, and everyone (especially people who barely knew him or had even talked a lot of shit about him, such as exes) acted like he was an angel and the best thing to happen to them. The people who help the least to deal with suicide always become the most vocal when someone does it, but then continue to cause problems – just like how kids continue to bully Martha and make fun of her for attempted suicide. I appreciate the movie’s approach to high school life and suicide, and I like how it also encourages people to NOT be Christian Slater by making him the villain. In the end, despite her issues with the school, Veronica accepts that you should still give a shit and try to help whoever you can.

    I watched Breakfast Club a few months ago, had a good time, and definitely relate to the characters. I even did have a few conversations with people from different friend circles in an open way like the kids in the movie do.,However, goddamn that stuff with Molly Ringwald getting sexually harassed by Judd and still going out with him in the end, as well as Ally Sheedy changing completely just to get the guy, is so gross and sexist.

    I love Ferris Bueller, but the NINE absences always seemed incredibly weird to me. It got even less realistic when I got to high school and made a friend with a guy who would be somewhat legendary for his absences. He would miss ~30 days of school a year (conservatively) and still passed without real issue.
    ALSO as for problematic content in this, Cameron faking a coma and watching Sloan get undressed is creepy.

    Last thing I wanna say in this long ass comment: I think one of the best things in Spider-Man: Homecoming is how it portrayed high school and the troubles that affect an average kid, compiled with dealing with being a superhero, and the sacrifices Peter would have to make to succeed.

  9. Sorry, I’m a little annoyed that Matt keeps popping up in every show. I’m taking a break from Patreon but I’ve been listening to you guys since episode 5 of TDar so I’m hesitant to follow altogether.

  10. I can’t think of a college movie but easily one of my favourite high school movies is Easy A. Though I didn’t see it until three years later, It was huge when it came out and it was one of the most talked about films among my female school friends,second only to Mean Girls which shows how much staying power that film has. The film has a perfect message about high school rumours and how everyone treats sex as this taboo thing that you get shamed for by doing it. Even though the ones that are shaming you are hypocrites. It also displays how quick rumours spread in high school especially if it involves bored and hormonal teens. These things happened a lot in my high school.

    The film has great performances from it’s all star cast including Lisa Kudrow, Stanley Tucci and Amanda Bynes but obviously the real star in it is my bae, Emma Stone. Who gives a perfect performance as someone caught in the middle of a giant high school rumour and how she persevered through it all.

    In my mind, Easy A, Mean Girls and The Duff are the perfect trilogy of films to show to both male and female teenagers to what to do and what not to do in your social life at High School when you start.

  11. My favorite high school movie is probably Charlie Bartlet. It’s a different take on the normal high school flick.

    Also props to Chris, I love Kings of Summer!

    As for college movies, the one I thought of when I saw the episode title was Accepted. I haven’t seen it in a few years but I really enjoyed it.

      1. It’s super underrated!

        And yeah, he was one of the celebrity deaths that hit me the hardest, as he was one of my favorite actors.

    1. Ugh, Charlie Bartlet is so so great. Anton, RDJ, and Kat Dennings are all really good and it does a good job at humanizing both the student protagonist and the evil-bossman-principal.

  12. Both high school movies I would like to suggest are very cliche, but also surprisingly accurate.

    Both of my parents graduated 1972 and they swear to this day that Dazed and Confused was their high school experience. Plus that cast. A fantastic movie I love to re-watch from time to time.

    I, on the other hand, graduated in 1994, and although I lived in a very small community, Clueless was my high school experience, minus dating my half-sister. But again, a great movie worth re-watching and one that I was sad didn’t make the list.

  13. OH boy! another chance to make a comment about Superbad! I love that movie. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg started writing it when they were like 14 because they felt no movie had actually capture their high school experience, and as a result I find it super relatable in how authentic it is. My friends and I would say filthy and disgusting (regrettably sometimes offensive/pretty insensitive) shit. A lot of Superbad feels to me like a much more funny version of a day we had. The complete avoidance of guys refusing to acknowledge their feelings despite it obviously being a wedge in their relationship hits so close to home it hurts. Such a Beautiful movie.

    I was genuinely surprised by the conclusion I came to for my favorite college movie. Maybe it’s just recency bias, but I’ve got to give the title to Everybody Wants Some!!. It’s a movie, like Superbad, that I find super relatable. The part that stands out to me the most is when Willoughby, the lovable stoner who can’t leave baseball behind, tells the main character that you just have to find and be your true self, then you’ll actually start being happy (much more eloquently than that). Yeah it’s kind of cheesy to say college is about discovering who you are and stuff like that, but as someone who in high school was very reserved about myself and my personality I love it. I pledged a co-ed, professional engineering fraternity my first semester and it pushed me so far out of my comfort zone and that really helped me out. The guys and gals their helped me to adjust to the self loathing life of an engineering student, how to avoid the responsibilities that come with being a self loathing engineering student, and most importantly how to drink away the sorrows that come from being a self-loathing engineering student without completely making an ass of yourself (there’s no way anyone puts themselves through the brutal gauntlet of engineering school if they don’t hate themselves at least a bit). All the members were so unabashedly “themselves” that I finally realized that I didn’t have to be who I thought people wanted me to be. Even if I was completely different, I could be accepted and part of a group. I’m not tearing up a bit typing this, you are! Anyway, let’s go pop our collars and smash some brews. Everybody Wants Some!! is good I’ll stop rambling. Peace

  14. I thought School Daze was an interesting slightly satirical film about life of a young black student at a HBC. The biased black on black hatred between dark skin and light skin black folk is a real thing that you can still come across to this day, albeit in small quantities and often for the sake of humor and diffusion. But it’s still there and it makes me sad because it’s ridiculous, my family runs the gamut of shades of brown. I would also say Higher Learning but only because i was old enough to see it in theaters and was very close to graduating from high school and this movie made me not want to go to college. Turns out a lot of lines are blurred in college especially if you go to an art school like i did where everyone (no matter culture, financial, social, religious class, etc.) is a geek and just sits around talking about nerdy, geeky, stuff. discovering just how introverted we really are and drawing all the time. This was especially true of us in the animation department. Sure there were sub sections and groups you could identify like the group who always hung out in the concession room playing fighting games all day and never going to class. They had a bad rep a lot of them dropped out. But it was a very normal experience but also a lot of fun. And NOTHING like that wretched Art School Confidential, what a cynical, shit movie.

  15. I think everyone misses the thesis of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off:
    Rooney, Cameron and Jennifer Grey are the architects of their own unhappiness and disquiet. Cameron and Ferris’s sister learn this lesson over the course of this day while Rooney continues to be a heel because it’s an 80’s teen movie and adults will never understand.
    All the unhappy people are merely unhappy because Ferris ISN’T unhappy.
    Jennifer Grey is on a revenge quest to appease her desire for schadenfreude and Charlie Sheen is the character that teaches her to let go of her hate because Ferris has literally done nothing to her.
    Cameron is living an existential nightmare, like a real world Charlie Brown, and his behavior of self-loathing and confrontational avoidance is a learned and patterned behavior that he recognizes he needs to break by the end of their day off.

    It’s a movie that shows you the only person who is keeping you from being happy is you.

    *Also, not surprising that Bush and family can relate to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, after all, Matthew Broderick and Laura Bush have a sordid history with car crashes that people like to forget about.

  16. I kinda love High School High. It’s always good for a dumb laugh when it comes on TV. But my favorite high school movie would be Donnie Darko. It’s more about a kid dealing with depression and time travel than the drama of school. I like a lot of the other movies mentioned, but Donnie Darko is the only one that affected me personally and wasn’t just some movie with laughs or a good time. The best hook for me was the music. I love 80’s New Wave and this movie pretty much has all the best sad/moody New Wave songs. They seemed to work pretty well with the movie too.

    Speaking of ‘too’, is my favorite college movie Teen Wolf Too? No, but there’s a great song in a montage. 80’s New Wave, Woo!

  17. Another great high school comedy about girl drama is Easy A starring Emma Stone! Lies, rumors and favors get out of hand to the point where everyone in the school thinks she’s a prostitute for gift cards. It also features Amanda Bynes and Lisa Kudrow.

  18. A recent high school movie I really enjoyed was Detention. Its hard for me to explain, it’s like if the breakfast club was stuck in a slasher movie that had sci-fi elements and heavy 90s nostalgia. I don’t know, I really like how it deconstructs teen movie without being a spoof or parody. I know this film isn’t for everyone, but I really think people should check it out.

  19. Really surprised to not see any love for 10 Things I Hate About You, especially in the comments. It was hands-down the best of the movies from that late-90s period where we were obsessed with modernizing Shakespeare (it was based The Taming of the Shrew). Everyone in that movie is just so magnetic, especially Heath Ledger, and I especially love Larry Miller as the dad. I just can’t not be charmed by that movie.

    Okay, so I have two classmates-dying stories. They’re way different from each other.

    One was these two guys who partied constantly and did a ton of drugs dying two weeks before graduation. They were driving home drunk and upper’d out of their minds and they ran into the median and their car exploded in a fireball. They died instantly. A lot of people were sad, I wasn’t particularly because I didn’t party or drink or do drugs and I was just kind of like “well yeah, you do that kind of stuff, there’s a good chance it could turn out not so great for you”. But THEN, some people got it in their heads that maybe they should name the new high school football stadium (then under construction) after them, and that’s when I went off. My argument was that you don’t get honored with stadiums and such if you’re a burnout loser. (This was way before we were all woke about Confederate statues.) I wasn’t tactful enough to keep that to myself, and I lost a few acquaintances who were still raw from their deaths over it. In the end, they never named it after anyone, so it was probably never worth getting as mad about it as I did. But, the things that matter when you’re in high school, y’know?

    The other story is a lot more tragic, because this guy was really nice and everyone liked him. He was at a bar kind of out in BFE and he had had more than a few. He was getting ready to go home but everyone thought he was too drunk and said he should either let someone take him or stay. He said tell you what, if I feel like I can’t drive, I’ll pull over and stop. They said okay. So he headed out. He did eventually feel too bad to drive. So true to his word, he pulled over. Unfortunately, he thought he was in the right-hand lane and had pulled onto the shoulder. That was not the case. He had been in the left-hand lane and had pulled into the right-hand lane, stopped, put his vehicle into park, and gone to sleep. Not too much later, an 18-wheeler came down the road and plowed right into him. He died on impact. He was 23.

    1. Larry Miller in 10 Things I Hate About You is probably one of my all time favorite characters. The movie is also really good too.

  20. Loved the episode, but I was really surprised to not hear anyone mention Fast Times at Ridgemont High, AKA the greatest movie about high school ever. I remember seeing it on VHS when I was about 10 and being really taken aback by how candid it was with topics like drugs, sexuality, abortion, etc. Sean Penn gives one of the most iconic teen performances in film history, and it’s kind of ridiculous to look at that cast and see how many people got their start through that movie: Nicolas Cage, Eric Stoltz, Anthony Edwards, Forrest Whitaker, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, etc etc etc.

    Fast Times was directed by Amy Heckerling, which makes it a nice companion piece to her other high school opus, Clueless. I guess the thing that connects both of them is how distinctly of-their-moment they are. Anyway, I’ve said my piece. Thanks for being awesome.

    PS: My theory is that Matthew Broderick’s character in Election is Ferris Bueller all grown up. I find it a satisfying narrative to see that smug asshole become Rooney and then get his comeuppance at the hands of a student who’s smarter than him.

  21. I’ll break conventions a bit but if you want an underrated movie about the time between High School and College. Euro-Trip is much better than it has any GD right to be and I will go to bat for it

  22. Holy crap I cannot believe you guys not only talked about real genius but also mentioned how no one gets the references and you can show it to your kids. This is one of my dad (in his own words, the ultimate 80s guy; I have very young parents) all time favorite movies and one of the first movies he showed me. All the men in my family share a crazy bond in our ability to just remember comedies from front to back and this is a big one. Just like you guys I love this movie, it was one the first DVDs I ever bought when those first became a thing. It makes me so sad how few people have seen this movie, which is one of the best most underrated 80s movies ever. I always ask people if they can hammer a 9inch railroad spike with their penis and they look at me like I’m some kind of pervert. When I was a research assistant in grad school, every time I talked to my dad he would refer to me as a “Kent”. It warms my heart to see other people appreciate this movie, Val kilmers character is hilarious in this movie. “This is ice, it’s what happens to water when it gets to cold. This is Kent, this is what happens to people when they get too sexually frustrated.”

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