Back to School Movies

How do you do, fellow kids

By The Nerdling

It is that time of year again.  Mass buying of pencils, pens, notebooks, and binders is happening.  Teachers are getting their lesson plans together.  Students of all ages are primed for learning.  Time for back to school (which seems to happen earlier and earlier each year).

There are plenty of people who don’t have to deal with this annual tradition outside of remembering to slow down when coming up on school zones, but a good chunk of the United States is preparing either their child or themselves for their return to the learning environment.  Whether it is going to elementary, middle, or high school, starting college, or gaining acceptance to a certain special school, these movies are the best way to celebrate the return of reading, writing, and arithmetic (and all the other insane drama that comes with it).

Pitch Perfect:

The Barden Bellas of Barden University are in an acca-rut.  Their tired routine is not getting them the recognition they want and Bella’s director, Aubrey (Anna Camp), refuses to change it, convinced it will win them Nationals.  Enter freshman Beca (Anna Kendrick), a DJ wannabe forced to audition for the group when her father offers her a deal and she shakes up the group.  Thru the Bellas, Beca learns college is not always about the things you learn in class, but the friends and connections you make.  I was a total choir nerd in high school and this is one of my favorite movies to watch when I need a happy boost.  It makes me miss the days of rehearsals and that moment you feel when you get a song right.

Pitch Perfect

Fame (the 1980 original):

Following a group of students from audition to graduation from the High School of Performing Arts in New York City, this tale of trying to make it to the top is wonderfully campy.  Just the 80’s fashion and hair alone makes it worth a watch.  These kids discover who they are and what they are willing to sacrifice to gain that illustrious mistress of fame.  Some make it, some don’t.  Fair warning, you will be singing the film’s title song for days after.  Avoid the remake at all costs!

Fame 1980
Image Courtesy of MGM

Mean Girls:

16 year old Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan before the booze, drugs, and fame ruined her) is trying out school for the first time.  She was homeschooled before and now that her family has moved to civilization from the bushes of Africa, she must learn to navigate the wilds of high school and the Plastics.  So fetch.  One of those rare teen comedies where the humor and the end message are positive.  It also stands the test of time, just replace the Burn Book with Twitter and Instagram.

Mean Girls

Akeelah and the Bee:

I am fascinated by spelling bees.  I was so very terrible at them in school (I didn’t do well under pressure and I am someone who was raised on spell check so I can’t spell AT ALL), but the talent the children who compete on a national level is just astounding to me.  Writer/Director Doug Atchison was moved to make Akeelah after seeing Scripps National Spelling Bee competitors are mostly children from a high-middle class background.  He wanted to show the obstacles facing a child not raised in such an environment when they wish to compete in these types of programs and hoped to inspire children and their parents in the same situation to not be discouraged by these hindrances.

Akeelah and the Bee
Image Courtesy of Lionsgate Films


This dark comedy starring Mathew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon centers around a teacher looking to rig the election of the student body president.  Tracy (Witherspoon) is an ambitious senior who is running for the main office.  Jim (Broderick) despises Tracy since she had an affair with his friend and co-worker, resulting in his friend losing his job and marriage, while Tracy walked away unscathed.  Jim schemes to take Tracy down a peg or two by convincing a popular jock to run against her.  Parts of this movie feel a little too realistic at times, but it is still a great movie to watch.

Election Movie
Image Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone:

Young Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) receives the news of a life time.  He is a wizard and now he is to go off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to learn how to channel his power.  To me, this is one of the ultimate back-to-school movie.  I’m closer to 40 than 30 and I’m still waiting for my Hogwarts letter.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Are you ready for back to school?  What movies are you watching in celebration of this time of year?  Let me know in the comments!

The Nerdling was born in the majestic land known as Texas and currently resides there after several years of journeying through Middle Earth in a failed attempt to steal the one Ring from that annoying hobbit, serving the Galactic Empire for a time, and then a short stint as a crew member on the Serenity. Since moving back to her homeland, Nerdling flirted with a hero reputation. Saving children from the dangers of adoring domineering, sparkly vampires (champions with souls are the only vampires worth loving) and teaching normals the value of nerdom, all while rooting for her beloved Dallas Stars. Then came the Sokovia Accords and her short spell of saving others came to an end. With Darth Vader’s reputation rightfully returning to badass status, Nerdling is making her way back to the Empire. They do have cookies, you know. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram