As summer vacation draws to a close and kids get ready to head back to school, we can't help but reminisce about our own high school experiences. The teenage angst, the braces, the unfortunate wardrobe decisions, the photographic evidence our mothers have stockpiled. We can't say we'd want to do it all over again, but it's still fun to watch movies that transport us back to that time in our lives.
But have you noticed that when it comes to high school-centered films, many of them are completely unrealistic? Maybe it's just us, but the hallways of our high schools weren't filled with models who somehow skipped the whole acne thing and ran around completely unsupervised all the time.
The glaring discrepancies between high school in the movies and high school IRL are hilarious, which is why we compiled a list of the all-time best examples of Hollywood's "creative" accounts of adolescence. Read on for our favorite high school portrayals that are so bad, they're good!
Mean Girls (2004)
OK, so this movie nails its depiction of high school life in some ways (who could forget that weird feeling of seeing a teacher IRL outside of class?) but it falls flat when it comes to others. Because what school would let a group of high schoolers catapult backwards into a circle of trust after they just brawled through the hallways? No school. No school would do that.
Bring It On (2000)
First of all, the fact that Bring It On just turned 16 is completely mind-boggling, but there's something else a little baffling about this spirit finger-filled film: There are no cheer coaches in sight! Try-outs, practices, and choreography are all led by the Toros' and Clovers' cheeky team captains, Torrance (Kirsten Dunst) and Isis (Gabrielle Union), but we call foul! There's no way high school students would be given permission to toss each other in the air without an adult supervisor present. And no, Sparky Polastri doesn't count!
While we can't argue that this isn't an amazing movie, we've got to point out how you'd never find a high school like this one IRL. A string of suspicious "suicides" (murders, guys) would be enough for any high school to take far more drastic measures than the baby steps Westerburg High School took. And how did no administrator catch onto J.D.'s lie about the band Big Fun performing at the school? Pretty shady if you ask us.
This movie is a classic among classics, but that doesn't mean we don't notice the 45-year-old men pretending to be high schoolers or the fact that the entire school year takes place over one week. But nothing compares to Sandy and Danny riding off after a massive class carnival (that was paid for by what school budget?) into the sky. The laws of gravity apparently do not always apply at Rydell High School.
She's All That (1999)
There's nothing better than a good ol' makeover to take a movie from semi-believable to totally bogus. That's not to say that we don't love a good makeover sequence, but the fact that Laney Boggs (Rachael Leigh Cook)'s classmates considered her so wretched for wearing glasses and boyfriend jeans is beyond us. Her big reveal basically debuted the same exact girl, with a haircut (the then-popular bob), a dress, and a pair of contact lenses. Oh, and her best accessory, Zack Siler (Freddie Prinze Jr.). Take that, high school bullies!
17 Again (2009)
Zac Efron is great at playing a high school student, but we doubt 17 Again's high school could actually be found on this planet. For starters, Efron's character is allowed to go on grand tangents about love and sex in class, which (let's be honest) would not be allowed by teachers IRL. There's also no word on how the school dealt with Mike's sudden disappearance once he was an adult again. Did everyone just agree to forget that Ned's kid existed at all?
Never Been Kissed (1999)
This iconic Drew Barrymore flick is a feelgood romcom for the ages, but we're going to say the chances of the school (and police) being OK with a middle-aged copy editor posing undercover as a high schooler are zero. The guise of Josie becoming a student to "help parents learn more about their children's lives" is, at best, a thin solution to a problem no one had in the first place. If this happened in real life, though, we'd be paying close attention to the inevitable lawsuits that would follow.
Easy A (2010)
This hilarious high school flick may have made a superstar of ultra-cool redhead Emma Stone, but it's pretty unrealistic. Sure, it totally captures the power of campus gossip, but it also basically revolves around a school-wide sex ring. Of course, our faux-promiscuous protagonist Olive (portrayed by Stone) wasn't actually trading sexual favors for Amazon.com gift cards, but even one whiff of these kinds of shenanigans by any high school administrator in America would definitely result in punitive measures.
Freaky Friday (2003)
Even beyond the whole body-switching storyline—wait, nope, that's the only thing that's unrealistic about the hallways in this high school. Otherwise, the discord that can exist between teen girls and their moms, the nuances of blended families and the importance of having a go-to Chinese restaurant: all things the movie got right.
Let's be clear about one thing: Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) is one of our undisputed style icons. But this Beverly Hills princess and her popular crew were almost too fashionable to be believable as high school students. How many teens do you know who prance across their campuses in high heels? The plaid co-ords, we could see (and would totally wear), but a sexy Alaïa ensemble, Dionne (Stacey Dash)'s Dr. Seuss–inspired hats and, well, all the pieces in Amber (Elisa Donovan)'s closet were just too far out there for a group high schoolers, even wealthy ones in the '90s.
American Pie (1999)
Here's another classic high school movie that encapsulates the mass hysteria attached to "certain" teenage rights of passage. It's a relatable theme and, for that, we can appreciate the film. What we have a harder time wrapping our heads around is the overly sexualized foreign exchange student Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth). Maybe it's just the terrible attempt at a Czechoslovakian accent that's throwing us off here, but we have so many questions for Nadia.
High School Musical (2006)
This Disney Channel original movie put stars like Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens on the map and captivated audiences for not one but three films (and likely a fourth). We're going to go ahead and state the obvious here: High school kids don't spontaneously burst into song and extensive choreography between classes or during basketball practice. It just doesn't happen. But hey, the song and dance is what we love about this franchise; realistic or not, we wouldn't change it for the world.