Summer Is Over: The 5 Best Back To School Movies

Thursday, January 26 by Steve Silverman

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The subject is education. Some of the best Hollywood films about getting back to school are often a combination of comedy, lust, learning and coming of age. There's often a sense of nervousness and butterflies when students return to school after a full summer off and some films replicate those feelings. The five films on this list excel at truly capturing the "back to school" feeling.

 "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (1982)

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Screenwriter Cameron Crowe drew upon his own experiences for this classic movie that looks at several seniors at a Southern California high school as they start their final year. Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates) is the most stunning and sexy girl at Ridgemont High and is the object of Brad Hamilton's (Judge Reinhold) lust. Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) is the school's surfer-stoner and he spends much of the film irritating straight-laced teacher Mr. Hand (Ray Walston). Classic scene after classic scene in this one.

"Back To School" (1986)

This was perhaps Rodney Dangerfield's second-best film, right behind "Dangerfield) misses his son and wants to help him succeed. What better way to do that then to join his son at college and return for the degree he never earned? Dangerfield makes a name for himself at school with his legendary parties, his ability to launch himself off the high diving board and his lust for professor Dr. Diane Turner (Sally Kellerman).

"Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (1986)

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One of the best school movies ever made, it featured Ferris Bueller (Mathew Broderick) leading girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara) and best friend Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck) on a day off from their high school in the suburbs for a memorable day in Chicago. Bueller is a fast-talking BS artist who dances on a float in a downtown parade, gets a table at an exclusive restaurant and gets great seats for the Cubs game. His ability to get away with anything irritates his sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey) and his principal Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones). The sight gags never stop in this movie and Jeanie's anger manifests itself with a memorable encounter with Rooney.

"Bring It On" (2000)

This film featured Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst) as a high school cheerleading captain who discovered that her predecessor stole an award-winning routine from an inner city school. The cheer squad at Rancho Carne High School in San Diego must come up with their own material and school newcomer Missy Pantone (Eliza Dushku) gives the cheerleading squad full-fledged attitude and overwhelming appeal. Dusku is as sizzling hot in this role as any on-screen cheerleader has ever been.

 "The Karate Kid" (1984)

When Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) moves from New Jersey to California, he quickly finds that he doesn't fit in with the surfer crowd at his new school. He is derided and abused and he learns karate from Mr. Kesuke Miyagi (Pat Morita) in an effort to survive. Not only does Larusso learn how to defend himself, he gains confidence and perspective from his memorable teacher.