Filmmakers have long found the schoolyard to be a fruitful setting for their stories. Our best movies and television series about the eternal conflict between students and educators are featured here. All of them are on DVD.
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1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
The first book in the Wimpy Kid series, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, tells us that middle school isn’t an easy transition. There are wedgie-loving bullies and the entire cast of weird middle school characters in Greg Heffley’s world. He considers the relative importance of being well-liked and having genuine close pals. (2010, PG-rated)
2. Curious George: Back to School
This eight-episode series of Curious George episodes from PBS Kids is a great way to get kids excited about entering or returning to preschool or kindergarten. In this 118-minute DVD for the youngest learners, George stimulates inquiry and creativity as he always has. (G) (2010, G) (paraphrased)
3. High School Musical
The Disney Channel Original Movie starring Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens is sure to be a hit with tweens. This movie is reminiscent of another legendary high school movie, Grease—but in a squeaky clean version that’s suited for youngsters ages six to ten. Don’t miss out on the two followups.
4. Dead Poets Society
“At the end of a wonderful instructor’s course in poetry, the pupils would adore poetry; at the end of this teacher’s semester, all they really love is the teacher,” said film critic Roger Ebert of Dead Poets Society. In the end, it’s impossible not to admire Robin Williams as the kind of unusual educator who inspires students and confounds authorities. He has a good point. The curriculum isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to teaching. Grease was released in 1989, and was rated PG-13.
For American teenagers, seeing Grease for the first time is almost a rite of passage. Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta appear in the smash hit musical, which takes place in the fictional Rydell High in the 1950s. There are a few risqué moments, but the majority of the show is lighthearted fun that older kids will enjoy singing along to. The Freedom Writers (1978, PG)
6. Freedom Writers
There have been numerous films about a teacher who inspires students in a tough urban classroom. With a superb performance by Academy Award-winning actress Hillary Swank and a heartwarming true narrative based on Erin Gruwell’s The Freedom Writers Diary, this one stands out from the pack (the California English teacher Swank plays). (2007, rated PG-13)
7. Easy A
Clueless and Mean Girls are only two examples of this funny high-school comedy. Featuring Emma Stone in the lead role of Olive, the geeky but smart heroine, Easy A takes on high school’s age-old issues of peer pressure, cliques, and snobbery. As a result of the movie’s explicit content, it is not suitable for younger audiences. (2010, rated PG-13)
8. School of Rock
Dewey Finn’s only objective in life is to rock harder than anyone else has ever rocked before him. He sees a chance to form the rock band of his dreams when he finds himself in charge of a classroom full of prep students. In School of Rock, you’ll laugh out loud at the off-kilter humor and savor the delicious guitar solos. (2003, rated PG-13)
9. Friday Night Lights
Odessa, Texas, is one of the few places in the country where high school football is taken so seriously that the residents are willing to die for their team. Permian Panthers’ 1988 season is an inspirational, poignant, and horrific tale of racial and social strife in a small community. It’s a terrific novel, too. This is a PG-13 movie.
10. Freaks and Geeks
Finally, a television sitcom that remembers what high school was truly like has come on the small screen. The geeks are confident in their own skin, which is a high school student’s worst sin. Even if they have to make problems to achieve it, the freaks are yearning for any form of identification at all. You won’t recognize any of the characters from any previous teen comedies you’ve watched before. In the end, the result is a passionate production that avoids sentimentality and delivers more than its fair share of chuckles. This film has no rating.