If there’s anything that 80s movies taught me, it’s that school was absolute chaos. Kids rode skateboards through the hallway, dudes wore shorts that were shorter than shorts that girls wear nowadays, and football players were basically kings. The coolest kid drove a Transam, and the nerds were into AV Club.
Whether or not school in the 80s was actually like that or not, I have no idea. I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t look awesome, though. Dudes cranked heavy metal music out of their T Top Firebirds; girls wore neon tights and leg warmers--it just seemed rad.
Unfortunately, I was born in 1986, meaning I didn’t get any first-hand experience in the 80s school department. Since my entire conception of school life in the 80s comes primarily from Hollywood, it seems fair that I should disclose which movies are influencing my perceptions. These are my 10 favorite school movies from the 80s:
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
I know it’s bold to put this movie as my number 1 school movie of the 80s, but it’s too good. Who doesn’t love Sean Penn’s stoner and Matthew Mcconaughey’s creeper? Alright, alright, alright!
The Breakfast Club
Most people’s number one 80s school movie, The Breakfast Club is all about the coming together of disparate cultures. It taught us to look past our social cliques and find the commonalities between each other. Also, wasn’t everyone in love with Molly Ringwald?
Another Molly Ringwald classic, this movie taught us that 16 ain’t always so sweet. Who can’t empathize with awkward grandparents, busy lives, and complications with love? This is the quintessential coming-of-age story.
Can’t Buy Me Love
What nerdy kid hasn’t dreamed about dating the most popular girl in school? This movie addresses the economics of dating in a slightly outdated fashion, but that doesn’t make the movie any less memorable. It also taught us that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Another movie about nerds motivated by love, Weird Science was a fun movie about smart kids making their dream girl with a computer. It was a charming take on Frankenstein, but instead of a monster, we got Kelly LeBrock. Hubbada hubbada.
Christian Slater was such a heartthrob in this movie about revenge, pettiness, and prettiness. Given the current, ahem, climate of high school safety, this movie might not have aged super well, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a classic. Also, just look at how cool Christian Slater was!
Risky Business helped kick off the parents-go-out-of-town-so-kid-throws-party trope, but at the time, it was fresh and fun. Tom Cruise is hardly recognizable as the young high schooler, but he gave us one of the most memorable scenes in all of cinema: dancing in his underwear.
Pretty in Pink
Another film with a familiar trope, Pretty in Pink was typical 80s by featuring everyone’s favorite leading girl: Molly Ringwald. Fun fact: originally, Andie was supposed to end up with Duckie, but test audiences didn’t approve. I guess things worked out for Blane!
Back to the Future
Marty McFly is probably the etymological reason that fly is now a synonym for cool. This dude had it all. While the movie is a weird mix of 80s and 50s, we basically see a meta-cognition of 50s high school through the filter of 80s high school. So deep, man!
The Lost Boys
The Lost Boys unequivocally served as an inspiration for one of my favorite characters in any movie: Rufio from Hook. The Lost Boys is about two brothers who move to California and find out that everyone are vampires. How cool was Kiefer Sutherland in this movie? A bit campy, it was still better than Twilight, and it was super aesthetic.
If I had a time machine, I would go back in time to the 80s so that I could go to high school during that magical time. I certainly would have been into hair metal, worn tight pants, and had huge hair.
On second thought, I didn’t have to go to school in the 80s for any of those things to happen. Sometimes things just work out.