We live in a dark era, you guys. Sure, there have been plenty of great, campy comedies in the past 10 years. “Knocked Up,” “The Hangover” (the first one only), most of Will Ferrell’s movies, “Wicker Man.”
But there is one genre that is all but extinct: the classic High School Movie.
I don’t mean a movie made solely for teenagers. I’m talking about the campy high school movies whose actors were obviously in their twenties. I mean the high school movies where there are rarely parents; there is no homework and where these teenagers basically exist in a vacuum and the only thing they care about is having sex, usually for the first time. The type of movie that I would happily watch tonight.
Gone are the days of the “10 Things I Hate About You” rom com; the “Cruel Intentions” psychodrama; the “Scream” horror flick or the “Can’t Hardly Wait” party movie. Enter the big-budget book-to-movie trilogy.
The classic High School Movie has one or more of the following elements: main character needs to accomplish something before high school ends; group of friend try to lose virginity before school is over; guy must tell girl he loves her before high school is over; character must learn something about herself in order to accept love/ popularity. And, obviously, lots of big parties and a lack of parents. They were always superficial and always awesome.
This formerly great sub-genre of the High School Movie has been replaced with teenaged vampires, teens saving dystopian societies and terribly sappy teen romances.
Where have all the High School Movies gone?
While there were others before it, the birth of the classic high school flick all came in 1982 with “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” the first — and perhaps still the best — movie about high school. This was the “American Pie” of the eighties. It was raunchy, groundbreaking and definitely something you wouldn’t watch with your parents.
Sure, there are a handful of teachers and parents in it, but mostly the high schoolers act and react in a world of their own.
“Fast Times” blazed the trail for other high school movies to follow suit.
John Hughes made a hugely successful career for himself using mainly this genre, starting with 1982’s “Sixteen Candles,” and continuing with “The Breakfast Club,” “Pretty in Pink” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” His films were fairly squeaky clean, at least compared to the movies that would come a decade later.