Keg stands, fraternity parties, final exams, and mid-terms. Not only are these are concepts you're all too familiar with if you go to school, but they're pretty much canon fodder for any movie about the subject. But to take a school movie from good to great, you need humor, crazy antics, and plenty of shenanigans. Which of cinema's odes to those school years is most worth your time? Well break out your letterman sweater, start brushing up on your greek letters, sharpen those pencils, and stock up on red solo cups, because here are some of the best back to school movies of all time.
This is hands-down the greatest collegiate flick of all time. With boatloads of beer, tons of togas and a whole slew of fraternity guys, no film epitomizes the "ol college try" better than this National Lampoon tale of a ne'er do well frat who faces school termination. Bluto (John Belushi) set the standard for generations of degenerates after him, accumulating a hearty grade point average of 0.0 in seven years of school. Plus, the parade scene at the very end is one of the greatest finales of all time.
Revenge of the Nerds
They may not be cool, but the nerds of Lambda Lambda Lambda are nothing if not resourceful. As much as folks like Mark Zuckerberg and Seth Cohen have made being a nerd the cool thing to be, that wasn't always the case, and these were the guys that paid the price. When they ultimately give the jocks their revenge, there's no one that's not thrilled for them.
National Lampoon's Van Wilder
Before Ryan Reynolds was The Green Lantern, before he was Mr. Scarlett Johannson, and before he was smooching Sandra Bullock, he was Van Wilder – a sleazy, rule-breaking avoider of honest work. Out of all the pranksters on this list, Van Wilder might have been the worst, thanks to his dog and some eclairs. (If you don't know what we're talking about, check the Internet. We're not going to mention it here).
Poor Shawn Brumder is trying so hard to get into the school of his dreams, that this university flick is a win, no matter the outcome. Plus, this showcases a highly-unkempt Jack Black as Shawn's older bro, so that alone makes it worth a watch.
Chances are, if you've seen 'Old School,' you'll never get the image of a naked Will Ferrell out of your mind. There's also a chance that you've got the word "earmuffs" as part of your lexicon for all time. And that's the sign of a pretty stellar college movie. Plus, while they weren't total newcomers per se, the movie helped turn Ferrell and Vince Vaughn into comedy A-listers. And who could forget our first introduction to the expletive wielding wedding singers known as The Dan Band?
Road trip follows a group of college boys on their way from Ithaca to Austin in order to keep Josh's girlfriend Tiffany from seeing a sex tape he'd made with sexy coed Amy Smart. Naturally, their cross-country jaunt is filled with hijinx and misadventure. A bonus? One of Tom Green's few film roles as their buddy left in charge of feeding the boa constrictor in the guys' absence ... although he ends up tasting as much rodent as the boa.
Back To School
'Back To School' features Rodney Dangerfield as a dad whose son is struggling with college, so he agrees to attend along with him in order to make sure he gets through. But since he's a little rusty, so he bribes the administrators along the way to make sure he doesn't fail. In classic Rodney Dangerfield fashion, he's firing off one-liners just about every time he's on screen.
Nothing says high school like this Lindsay Lohan classic, filled with the Plastics, cliques, and of course, a kegger. Sure, the plastics can be a bit mean, even bitchy, but how many great quotes did we get from Amanda Seyfried? "So, if you're from Africa, why aren't you black?" "It's like I have ESPN or something." Plus, it's become a bit of a time capsule, as you can look at Lindsay Lohan before, well, ya know... And don't forget Glen Coco. You go, Glen Coco!
The Breakfast Club
Nobody did 80's high school movies like John Hughes, and 'The Breakfast Club' could very well be considered his masterpiece. Faced with a detention-filled Saturday, this band of misfits represents the cross-section of every high school ever. The nerd, the jock, the princess, the outcast and the basketcase. But most importantly, Judd Nelson provides a crash course in pissing off your High School principal like no other. Just don't blame us the next time you're in detention.
Can't Hardly Wait
It's the last night of school, and for these kids, it's the beginning of the rest of their lives. Ethan Embry stars as a lovelorn student, pining over high school goddess Jennifer Love Hewitt. Plus, this 90's classic features an all-star cast of 90's staples including Peter Facinelli, Lauren Ambrose, Seth Green, Erik Palladino, Jaime Pressly, Jason Segel (seriously!), Selma Blair, Sara Rue and many more. Guys, got your eye on a special someone? Here's a tip: do the exact opposite of everything Seth Green does in this movie.
Thanks to Jim (Jason Biggs) and 'American Pie', it's nearly impossible to look at an apple pie in the same way. Thanks to his prom date Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), we'll never look at flutes or band camp in the same way either. The awkward adventures of five high schoolers and their quest to lose their virginity And who could forget Stifler's mom, the original MILF? You shouldn't try to emulate Seth Green in 'Can't Hardly Wait'... but you REALLY shouldn't try to emulate Jim (Jason Biggs) in 'American Pie'.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
For some of you, the words 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' may simply remind you of a commercial that ran during the Superbowl this year. If you haven't seen this high school flick, get it in your Netflix queue immediately. Though most of this movie doesn't actually take place within the high school walls, it's a classic that provides the template for every high schooler playing hookie for the rest of time. If you can accomplish half of what Ferris (Matthew Broderick) did, that day off is time well spent. Bonus points if you can get on a parade float and sing Wayne Newton's "Danke Schoen."
Dazed and Confused
Before he was known for taking his shirt off in every movie, Matthew McConaughey was known as the skeezy old dude in 'Dazed and Confused' who gave us the classic (albeit creepy) one-liner about high school girls: "I keep getting older, and they stay the same age." This throwback epitomizes the need for an old-fashioned party like no other... and no one knows how to throw a party like Texas high schoolers. With a cast that features a young Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich and many more, it's as much a look back on some of Hollywood's finest as it is a look back at teen life in the 1970s.
"As if!" OK, so 'Clueless' is probably a little different from your high school experiences, unless your dad's a millionaire too. And sure, it may perpetuate every negative stereotype you've ever heard about Southern California. But break through her thick valley girl accent and Cher Horowitz's (Alicia Silverstone) astute observations on high school make her a strong candidate for the voice of her generation.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Sean Penn may be a political activist and one of the most revered actors working in Hollywood, but to some, he'll always be Jeff Spicoli - the dim-witted stoner and star of 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High' whose most intelligent line is probably "people on 'ludes should not drive." Um, ya think? If you acted like Spicoli or most of Ridgemont High's student body there's a good chance you'd be expelled, so it's probably best to just watch this movie and live vicariously through their debauchery.
Back to the Future
Aside from being one of the greatest films of all time, this movie is without a doubt a high school movie for all generations. When poor Marty McFly has to live high school in not one, but two decades? Oof. And couple that with the fact that there's a whole family tree of Tannen bullies? Life's pretty rough for Calvin Klein.
There you have it, folks. Our favorite homages to those dreaded school days. Did we miss any of your favorites? Be sure to let us know in the comments!