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Movie Marathon Idea: Back to School

August 16, 2010

Another year, another group of students, another time to escape into the ether of Hollywood.  The movies can be hit and miss in terms of accuracy about school life, where quite often teachers are portrayed as either saints or demons with little in-between.  Here are three movies that help cultivate the nostalgia of strapping on that backpack, braving the bus and wondering if you’ll have someone to sit next to during lunch time…

1.) Lucas (1986)

Lucas is the rare 80s movie about the school universe that gives us a main character painfully true to life.  Played by the late Corey Haim, he is a loser with courage, intelligence and little patience for the insensitive numbskulls around him. Lucas manages to capture exactly what it feels like to be an outsider in the tricky social world known as high school.  Since it is the 80s, Lucas himself triumphs in the end in typical slow clap fashion, although it is a baby-faced Charlie Sheen who will end up getting the girl…

2.)Election (1999)

Long before her Best Actress Oscar, Reese Witherspoon played the student every teacher loves to hate.  Aspiring to be class president no matter who or what gets in her way, Tracy Flick is a straight A, prompt and seemingly perfect kid, which is exactly why she is so annoying.  Along the way to academic triumph, she manages to destroy the life and dignity of almost every male teacher she encounters.  Poor Matthew Broderick’s Mr. McAllister is driven to career suicide trying to give Tracy her comeuppance.  The truth is, students as obnoxious and devious as Tracy will always survive to terrorize another day.

3.) Clueless (1995)

Watching a frustrated Mr. Hall trying to motivate and inspire his debate students still remains one of my all-time favorite scenes.  It’s tough to teach students whose only concern during your class is hoping no one “snagged” their Cranberries CD in the commons.  Almost scene for scene based on Jane Austen’s Emma,  Amy Heckerling’s movie transplanted the setting to modern L.A. with amazing results.  Despite mocking student stereotypes, the kids are all human, and Cher gets her man and manages to keep her charm and individuality in the end.  Still, my favorite student is stoner reformed Travis, who manages to wax poetic about his tardies, saying: 

“I would like to say this. Tardiness is not something you can do on your own. Many, many people contributed to my tardiness. I would like to thank my parents for never giving me a ride to school, the LA city bus driver who took a chance on an unknown kid and last but not least, the wonderful crew from McDonalds who spend hours making those egg McMuffins without which I’d never be tardy. “

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