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6 Films That Put Student Life Back in Perspective

Written by Chloe Blair

It appears that students have developed a reputation. Now, everyone already knows that we are pleasant, driven, leaders-of-tomorrow who want nothing more than to soak up everything that the education system has to offer us, right?

Apparently Hollywood didn’t get the memo.

The film industry generally portrays students as confused, hormone ridden, tortured adolescents who want nothing more than to be anywhere but in class and are endlessly stuck on the deep questions, like: “who am I?” and “what the hell do I want to do with my life?” For those of us who relate more to the latter, the film industry has kindly adapted these issues for our viewing pleasure! These stories allow us to get some perspective. Inspire us. And sometimes they help us figure our own lives out.

The Breakfast Club

“Eat my shorts!”

Let us start with high school. This is the movie where stereotypes collide in an epic comedy-drama about Saturday detention. If you are alternative, rebellious, a jock, a brainiac, popular, or have any non-indifferent emotions about high school, this movie is for you.

“If you are alternative, rebellious, a jock, a brainiac, popular, or have any non-indifferent emotions about high school, this movie is for you.”

It epitomizes the label-obsessed, cliqued environment many students grow used to throughout secondary school and challenges its viewers to challenge the stereotypes. Excuse the cliché, but it really is about breaking out of expectations and being who you want to be. If you still aren’t convinced, almost everyone who grew up in the ’80s is really attached to The Breakfast Club. Find someone you know and allow them to convince you.


“I never realized how much I like being home unless I’ve been somewhere really different for a while.”

With wit and humour and an extra scoop of clever, Juno answers all the questions about identity and the future, with the additional issue of teenage pregnancy. Juno is a confident, self-assured character who loses that confident self-assuredness as she decides to stay in school throughout her pregnancy. It’s one of those movies that can be played over and over again and never loses its hilarity. Juno’s confusion is relatable and her bravery admirable. Regardless of who you are or what you’ve overcome, Juno teaches us how to retain your sense of self while facing everything that life throws at you. Like pregnancy.


“…well, I’m taller!”

I’m going to be honest, this movie doesn’t really answer any questions, but it’s good for comic relief. How many of you have ever complained about taking the bus? Busses are crowded and gross and they splash you on rainy days and are generally just guaranteed day-ruiners. As students, we are no strangers to public transportation, but I challenge anyone to recall a bus experience quite as messed up as this one. If you need a break from all this deep thinking about your future, watch Speed and think, “Wow! My day really could have been worse.” It features a hilarious combination of Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper, Jeff Daniels and Keanu Reeves, you know, the guy from The Matrix. Combine theses four with a bus that will explode if it goes under 50 and you’re in for an exciting ride (pun intended).

Reality Bites

“All you have to be by the time you’re 23 is yourself.”

Fast forward. You’ve graduated post-secondary and have nothing but a gas card, a half-finished documentary and several annoying friends loitering in your apartment. Here is where the question, “what do I want to do with my life” grows increasingly relevant. Many of us have a plan for what we want our lives to look like after we graduate. It is probably a good idea to factor in room for everything that can possibly go wrong. Because, shit often goes wrong. Honest, funny, and ultimately hopeful, Reality Bites conveys the relatable confusion of not knowing what to believe or how strongly to believe it.


“Inside most people is the feeling of being separate. Separated from everything […] and they’re not. They’re part of absolutely everyone and everything.”

This is a fairly obscure fantasy-drama about a young boy with unique powers. You probably haven’t heard of it, and that’s cool. I feel it particularly important that high school students watch this movie. It deals with issues of bullying but in a more covert way. It is one of my personal favourites because of the startling beauty of the protagonist, Powder. It will have you questioning what you know about beauty and what makes someone special. The movie is striking, elegant and powerful just like the title character himself.

Good Will Hunting

“Real loss is only possible when you love something more than you love yourself.”

Inspirational teacher movies are plentiful. I would conservatively guess that I have seen about ten million of them. This is one of the best. Watch this movie to learn a lesson. Laugh. Cry. Don’t cry. It’s raw and powerful and exceptional. I love this movie because it’s unconventional. The learning doesn’t happen in the classroom. It takes on a lot of issues in one fell swoop (abandonment, self-awareness, brilliance, true love, friendship), exploring the value of a character who has all the options of the world open for him. It’s explicit. I don’t think there is a single scene where they don’t swear every other word. But it works. It has true emotion.

If you like Good Will Hunting, here are some other titles to look into: Dead Poets Society, Mr. Holland’s Opus, Music of the Heart, Freedom Writers, Lean on Me, Mona Lisa’s Smile

There you have it. Although these movies bear the romanticized mark of the film industry there are answers to be found in them, even if it’s just how to procrastinate from writing that midterm paper for another two hours.

Let the movie marathon begin.

ED. Note. What did we miss? Got another movie every student should see? Add it in the comments!

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.