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School-Based Movies to Watch Before the New Semester

It’s always hard to say goodbye to summer, but students of all ages can ease the pain of a new school year by enjoying classic films about education.

So before the first class bell rings, make sure you have crossed these movies off of your “summer watching list.” Just make sure the movie’s rating matches your audience before sitting down and enjoying the movie, as some of these suggestions are for teenagers.

“School of Rock” (PG)

One of the best live-action family films of this century, the 2003 comedy “School of Rock” paired acclaimed director Richard Linklater with funnyman Jack Black. The movie stars Black as a struggling rock and roll artist who pretends to be a substitute teacher at a prep school in order to make ends meet. Once he recognizes the musical talents of his fourth-grade students, though, Black decides to turn the class into a band that can compete in the upcoming Battle of the Bands.

Funny and sweet-natured, this modern classic will delight kids and adults with its great story and killer soundtrack. The movie has even given birth to a Broadway musical, which stands as a testament to its enduring popularity.

“Matilda” (PG)

Based on a book by “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” author Roald Dahl, “Matilda” tells the story of a genius 8-year-old girl who has to suffer awful foster parents and an equally awful elementary school. But on the bright side, she does possess the power of telekinesis! Young children will be entranced by this fantasy story, and also feel eternally grateful that their principal is not nearly as bad as the tyrannical Agatha Trunchbull, one of the most memorable villains in this history of children’s movies. Like “School of Rock,” this film has also spawned a popular Broadway musical.

“Mean Girls” (PG-13)

When screenwriter Tina Fey adapted Rosalind Wiseman’s non-fiction self-help book “Queen Bees and Wannabees” for the big screen, she ended up crafting the most endlessly quotable high school movie since “Heathers.”

Released in 2004, this cult classic stars Lindsay Lohan as the new kid in town, who quickly attracts the attention of both the school’s geeky outcasts and snooty popular girls. A hilarious yet sweet satire of high school drama, this movie has had a lasting impact, even once being referenced in a tweet from the White House.

 “Clueless” (PG-13)

In the same way that “The Breakfast Club” is quintessentially ‘80s, writer-director Amy Heckerling’s 1995 comedy “Clueless” is a film that screams ‘90s. From the fashion to the giant cell phones, everything about this movie will be either hilarious or nostalgic, depending on your age. Inspired by the Jane Austen novel “Emma,” the movie focuses on a wealthy Beverly Hills high school student named Cher. Though she is vain and superficial, Cher is also a bit shrewder and smarter than she may first appear, and the antics of her and her Valley Girl friends prove to be engrossing.

“The Breakfast Club” (R)

The late John Hughes wrote and directed many of the best teen movies from the ‘80s, but the one that seems to have struck a chord with the most viewers is this 1985 coming-of-age dramedy.

Starring the original “Brat Pack,” the film focuses on five high schoolers from different “cliques” who are forced to spend their Saturday together in detention. “The Breakfast Club” manages to communicate the idea that you can’t judge a book by its cover in a way that comes across as genuine rather than cheesy. Though some strong language makes this one inappropriate for especially young kids, mature teenagers will resonate with the film’s message.

Whether you are looking for grade school-appropriate flicks or teen movies, there are plenty of fun and funny films about the trials and tribulations of school.