Senioritus in Style: Top 7 Movies to Watch Before you Leave High School

By: Hayden Alexander

Senior year is coming to a close. As you spend the week preparing for finals or just waiting for the last bell to ring,  you may find yourself with a serious case of senioritis, or just in need of a quick break. What better way to destress a little during this hectic final week than a quick movie? The Trojan Torch put together a list of the top— movies to watch before you graduate! 

I will be using Realism O-Meter, an invention of my own creation, to determine how realistic each one of the chosen movies is, because we don’t want to over romanticize high school too much.  

High School Musical Three: Senior Year (2008)

The main cast of High School musical end their senior year with a song. 
Photo Credit: Entertainment Weekly

Plot: The High School Musical Gang Troy, Gaberiella, Kelsie, Ryan, Chad, Taylor, and Sharpay take on their senior year of high school and their final high school musical.

Photo Credit: Entertainment Weekly

Realism meter: 3.5/5

While the musical and breaking out into song aspect of the movie is pretty unrealistic the problems that main characters have to deal with are not. It’s very hard your senior year when you begin to realize that everyone is about to go their separate ways. Troy has to deal with the fact that all of his friends are going to different colleges. Our leading man also has to grapple with own college decision and in the end he chooses to do what makes him happiest. He chooses to be near the ones he loves and do the things he loves which is a good lesson for any senior still on the fence about college. Go where you want and do what feels right to you. 

Rated: G 

Runtime: 2hrs

IMDB: 4.8/10 

Rotten Tomatoes: 63%

Senior Superlative: Best singers 

Grease (1978)

Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) , Zuko (John Travolta), and their friends celebrate the end of their highschool careers at a graduation fair. 

Photo Credit: CNNstyle 

Plot: Filmed in 1978 and based on  the 1971 musical of the same name, Grease follows the love story between bad boy Danny Zuko and good girl Sandy Olsson as they navigate their senior year at Rydell high school in the late 50’s.. After a summer of love the two have to combat the challenges of being together in a time when greasers and socs(socialites or in Sandy’s case a so-called “good girl”) didn’t mix. 

Realism meter: 2/5

Yes this movie is a full on musical with dream sequences and guys dancing on floating cars, but there is a hint of realism to it. It’s minute but the movie in its own goofy way explores the concept of class divide on a highschool level. It’s essentially the outsiders minus the violence and attractive people. These kids deal with real world problems such as peer pressure, class divide, and being judged for pretty much anything and everything. I must reiterate though it is a full blown musical so if 50’s themed music is not your cup of tea then it might not be the movie for you.  

Rated: PG (That’s the 70’s rating I would say it’s Pg-13 by today’s standards) 

Runtime: 1hr 51min

IMDB 7.2/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%

Senior Superlative: Greasiest/Best Hair 

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) 

From left to right Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara), Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck), and Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) cruise through Chicago in a Ferrari 250 GT California.

Photo Credit:The Cinematic 

Plot: High School Senior Ferris Bueller masterminds the ultimate senior skip day with his girlfriend Sloane Peterson and best friend Cameron Frye. He leads them on an adventure through the streets of Chicago while skilfully evading Principle Rooney and his sister Jeanie. 

Realism meter: 3/5

While the concept of a senior skipping class is real enough, hijacking a parade and breaking the fourth wall continuously throughout the movie is not that realistic. The fourth wall breaks are very important to the story however, as they allow Ferris to talk to us about his own anxieties over graduation and how he doesn’t really know what he wants to do, but it’s okay. This is another real life lesson for seniors as even if you have no clue what you want to do you just have to find out. Do what you need to do whether that’s going to college, exploiting the world, or taking a year off. It’s okay to not know. 

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 1hr 43min

IMDB: 7.8/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%

Senior Superlative: Most likely to Skip School

Breakfast Club (1985)

From Left to right John Bender(Judd Nelson), Andrew Clark(Emilio Estevez), Allison Reynolds(Ally Sheedy), Claire Standish(Molly Ringwald), and Brian Johnson(Anthony Michale Hall) sit in Saturday morning detention.

Photo Credit: EnzianTheater

Plot: In 1984 five teenagers, all from different social circles, end up in detention together one Saturday morning. Over the course of the day the teens break down social barriers/stereotypes and learn that they have far more in common than they thought. 

Realism meter: 4/5

The movie is actually pretty realistic and not just because no one breaks out into song or invades the 4th wall. What makes the movie realistic is how it challenges social stereotypes and shows that people are far more than what they wear or how much money they have. It’s a good lesson for highschool students to learn that despite their surface differences everyone is working through something and to not make snap judgments. 

Rating: R

Runtime: 1hr 37min

IMDB: 7.8/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%

Senior Superlative: Most likely to get Detention

Pretty in Pink (1986)

From Left to right: Balne McDonagh (Andrew McCarthy), Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald), and Duckie Dale (Jon Cryer). 

Photo Credit: Vogue 

Plot: Andie Walsh, a senior in high school, has to deal with the pressures of helping her unemployed single father and being somewhat of an outcast. She spends most of her time with her fellow outcast Duckie Dale,who has a serious case of unrequited love where Andie is involved, and her boss Iona at the record shop. Duckie and Andie are continuously bullied by wealthy or “richie” kids at their school because of their social status. When she gets asked out to prom by Blaine, a “richie” kid at her school Andie says yes. With a prom date with jerks for friends, a best friend irrevocably in love with her, a father who can’t find a job, and a dress to make, Andie has a lot to deal with and a prom to get to. 

Realism O-Meter: 3.5/5 

Pretty in Pink is a true outcast story and something many can realistically relate to. The main character Andie deals with a multitude of social issues in school and her home life. The movie does a good job of showing those students who really have to work for their success rather goof around the entire year. With complicated relationships, real world problems, and the backdrop of Chicago Pretty in Pink is a must see for any senior planning on attending prom. 

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 1hr 37min

IMDB: 6.8/10 

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%

Senior Superlative: Best Dressed

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Pedro (Efren Ramirez) and Napoleon (Jon Heder) camping around the halls of Preston Senior High School.

Photo Credit: Letterboxd

Plot: Geeky high school student Napoleon Dynamite lives with his grandmother and unemployed older brother Kip Dynamite. After his grandmother is injured in a biking accident Napoleon is left to navigate highschool under the care of his crazed Uncle Rico. Together with his friend, and maybe crush Deb, Napoleon spends the movie attempting to help his friend Pedro run for class president against some of the most popular kids in school. 

Realism O-Meter 2/5

This movie is very unrealistic mostly due to it being a comedy. With the pretense of being funny most of the situations found in the movie such as a quad-biking grandma or a get rich quick scheme executed by Napoleon’s uncle and brother are just absurd. However there are aspects such as bullying, social standing, and class presidential races that are realistic in nature. 

Rating: PG

Runtime: 1hr 36min

IMDB: 6.9/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 72%

Senior Superlative: Coolest name 

Footloose (1984)

Ren (Kevin Bacon) and Ariel (Lori Singer) dance the night away. 

Photo Credit: IndieWire

Plot: High School student Ren McCormack moves from Chicago to a small town where dancing is banned by the townspeople and local minister. Ren teams up with his new friend Willard and crush Ariel(the minister’s daughter) to bring dance to the teenagers of the small town. 

Realism O-meter: 3/5

Normally I would have given this movie a two due to the story revolving trying to save teens’ right to dance in a very religious town, however the movie is actually based off of a somewhat true story. In 1979, in Elmore City, Oklahoma, seniors wanted to have a prom, but couldn’t because town law forbade dancing. Other than the real world connection the only realism to be claimed is through the concept of rebellious teens. High schoolers are notorious for challenging rules/social norms, and the teens in Footloose plan to challenge an entire town.

Rating: PG 

Runtime: 1hr 50min

IMDB: 6.6/10

Rotten Tomatoes 52%

10 things I Hate About You (1999)

Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) and Patrick (Heath Ledger) take a pedal boat out on Lake Union. 

Photo Credit:


In this modern take on Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” Cameron James moves to Seattle and starts attending Padua High. Even though he is the new kid in school he develops a crush on Bianca Stratford almost instantly. The problem is Bianca and her older sister Kat have a very overprotective dad who won’t allow them to date until they graduate. Bianca eventually convinces her dad to allow her to date, but only if her antisocial sister is dating someone. When he learns of this rule, Cameron, and his friend Joey, come up with a crazy plan to get Kat together with bad boy Patrick. 

Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) catches his first glimpse of Biannca (Larisa Oleynik). 

Photo Credit: 10 Things I Hate About you wiki fandom

Realism O-meter: 3.5/5

This 1999 romantic comedy has a good layer of realism to it despite the scheming of Cameron and Joey. What made me give the movie a score of 3.5 was the sibling/parental relationships in the movie. It’s not abnormal to find parents who will do everything in their power to protect their kids. Sometimes these rules seem excessive, but there is some truth to them. Bianca and Kat, although they don’t seem too close, eventually go up to each other and talk about peer pressure and learn why Kat chooses not to be social. Both the parental unit and siblings learn to give a little and compromise. 

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 1hr 39min

IMDB: 7.3/10

Rotten Tomatoes 69%

There you have it! A list of the 7 movies you should watch before leaving/graduating high school. These are just a few of the plethora of movies that exist covering these insane four years of our lives. So while on your study breaks, free time, and of course this summer take a minute(or two hours) and watch a movie. 

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