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OPINION: The five best ‘back-to-school’ movies to watch this fall

Canva Illustration by Kelsie Horner

If you’re looking for a movie to commemorate heading back to campus or to get into the school spirit, grab your popcorn, turn on one of your expensive streaming services and check out my top five recommendations.

“High School Musical”: my number one movie of all time

If you haven’t seen this movie musical, you should be ashamed, because everyone needs some Troy Bolton in their life.

Starrings actors Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron, HSM follows main characters Troy and Gabriella and their friends as they tackle their teen years at East High School. When Troy and Gabriella meet for the first time at a ski resort over winter break, they get chosen at random to sing a karaoke song together. There was no doubt that there were “fireworks” between them.

After returning from winter break, to Troy’s surprise, Gabriella has transferred to East High. Troy and Gabriella form a bond over the school musical. Troy’s basketball team and Gabriella’s brainiac friends work together to break the bond apart, because joining the school musical was certainly not “sticking to the status quo”.

Despite their friends’ best efforts, Troy and Gabriella… well, you’ll have to watch the film to find out the rest.

This childhood-favorite, along with the rest of the “High School Musical” series, is available on Disney Plus.

“Clueless” : a chick-flick classic

With Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd, this movie is the coming-of-age story of 16-year-old Cher Horowitz as she battles the struggles of young love and friendship.

Living in Beverly Hills with her father and ex-step brother, Josh, Cher is considered the “it girl” of her high school.

Cher begins to take on the role of matchmaker at her school, helping two teachers fall in love. She then takes a chance on the new girl, Tai, giving her the ultimate makeover and becoming her best friend.

While focusing on the other people in her life, Cher’s personal love life has epically failed over and over. One date even ended with her getting robbed at gunpoint and getting her purse stolen.

When Tai takes her place as the “it girl,” Cher realizes how “clueless” she is about her own life (like most of us are). Cher discovers she has feelings for her ex-stepbrother Josh, and the pieces fall into place.

Watch “Clueless” on Paramount+ or rent it on Prime Video.

“Legally Blonde”: Sorority girl meets powerful brainiac

Canva Illustration by Kelsie Horner/ The Kent Stater

This well-loved classic with the gorgeous Reese Witherspoon as its main character, “Legally Blonde” follows college senior and sorority president Elle Woods as she works to get into Harvard Law School to prove to her ex-boyfriend, Warner, that she’s more than just her blonde hair.

After getting accepted to law school – “What, like it’s hard?” – Elle shocks both herself and others at how well she succeeds.

Elle was chosen among a few star students
to intern with a professor on real court cases. But after realizing she was chosen for her looks, and not her skills, she quit (like a girl boss).

Elle then took over the current case for a former sorority-sister, and won, with both her beauty and her brains.

After becoming “the ideal woman” for her ex-boyfriend, Warner begged Elle to get back together, which was Elle’s goal all along. But after her journey through law school, Elle rejected Warner, realizing she deserved more.

“Legally Blonde” may be known as a chick-flick, but it can be used to inspire all of us that we are more capable than we believe.

View “Legally Blonde” on Prime Video.

“Billy Madison”: If you’re looking for a good laugh, this movie will do the trick

This comical film follows 27-year-old Billy as he works to take over his father’s business.

Prior to his school adventure, Billy spent his time drinking around his father’s pool and causing trouble with his friends.

In order to earn his fathers trust, Billy must spend two weeks in each grade beginning with preschool, proving he is intelligent enough to run the family company.

Billy shocks his family as he begins to successfully pass each grade – but not without getting reprimanded and falling in love with his teacher, Miss Veronica.

Billy’s rival to take over the company, Eric, realizes Billy may give him a run for his money. Eric does his best to get Billy to fail, but only embarasses himself in the end.

Billy successfully wins the trust of his father, gaining control of the company. Thankfully, Billy is aware of his capabilities and passes the company down to another trusted employee.

In the end, Billy was able to discover all the things he was capable of, showing all of us that we should be more like Billy, and work towards our dreams.

Check out Billy Madison on Prime Video.

“The Breakfast Club”: bringing you closer to your peers

I watched this classic for the first time recently, and I believe it shows us young people we aren’t all that different.

Starring Molly Ringwald and Emilio Estevez, “The Breakfast Club” follows a group of five students as they spend their Saturday in detention. Through their eight hours together, the group learns each of them are more than just their stereotype.

While tormenting their supervisor, sneaking out of the library, smoking and making out in closets, the five students each reveal shocking truths about themselves.

In the end, the “athlete,” “brains,” “basket case,” “princess” and “criminal,” come to the conclusion that none of us know who we are, and for that, we are all alike.

The Breakfast Club can be viewed on Netflix’s streaming service.

Kelsie Horner is digital content director. Contact her at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Kelsie Horner, Assistant Managing Editor
Kelsie is a senior journalism major with a minor in communications. In her three semesters at KentWired, she has served as a Digital Tech, Digital Editor and Assistant Managing Editor.
Contact her at [email protected].

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