Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Any self-respecting movie buff has seen this movie more times than they can count, but we just couldn’t leave it off the list. The plot follows protagonist Ferris Bueller, who convinces his entire school that death is knocking at his door so he can skip school, then hits the streets of Chicago with his girlfriend and best friend for a day of complete and utter debauchery. It’s a warmhearted comedy about innocence and growing up, chock-full of Chicago landmarks and unforgettable scenes. Oh, yeaaaaah.
There’s no finer take on high school cliques than Tina Fey’s Mean Girls. The cult classic stars Lindsey Lohan as Cady Heron, a 16-year-old girl who is forced to attend public school once her family returns from a decade-long research trip in Africa. Lohan joins the school’s most exclusive outfit, but soon finds herself grappling with psychological status warfare when she falls in love with Aaron Samuels (Jonathan Bennett). It showcase girl-on-girl cattiness at its best (and funniest).
Believe it or not, Almost Famous is essentially the story of director Cameron Crowe’s early years. It chronicles William Miller (Patrick Fugit) as he sets out to cover the fictional band Stillwater in an effort to produce his first cover story for Rolling Stone — much like Crowe did while touring with the likes of Poco and Led Zeppelin during their heyday. Sure, it bombed at the box office, but its excellent casting and honest, offbeat scenes make it more than a movie about friendship and unbridled love.
Ripe with dark humor, In Bruges showcases what might be Colin Farrell’s best performance. Though the oddball film features a gloomy premise that revolves around two hit men who must lay low at a bed-and-breakfast in Belgium until their boss contacts them, it finds an incredible amount of humor in its witty and sharply written script. Farrell is stupendous, whether portraying an offhanded killer or a fumbling lover.
Meet the Parents
Ben Stiller was on a winning streak in the early aughts, and Meet the Parents only proved he could tackle subtle humor with the same deftness as the more blatant kind. As you might have guessed, it’s the story of an earnest man (Stiller) who visits his girlfriend’s parents for a long weekend, only to quickly dig himself into a hole with a string of white lies and unfortunate events. Blythe Danner and a stern Robert De Niro play the parents, the latter of which hides his own secrets and essentially makes Stiller’s visit a living hell. The beauty of the comedy is how little the scripting or scenes sound forced — and that includes the segment in which Stiller reflects at the dinner table on the his days milking a cat.
Dazed and Confused
Richard Linklater’s first coming-of-age comedy got its name from a Led Zeppelin song, which is fairly representative of the movie as a whole. Several of today’s Hollywood heavies, including Matthew McConaughey and Ben Affleck, appear in the film, which follows a group of high-school students as they prepare to finish the school year. Full of drugs, booze, and plenty of ‘70s-inspired hijinks, Dazed and Confused became a cultural touchstone to an entire generation of teenagers, one with an ensemble cast that’s nearly as good as its killer soundtrack.
Few directors, writers, or producers showcase a visual or narrative style as distinct as Wes Anderson’s. The whimsical Moonrise Kingdom is one of his best to date. It tells the story of a young scout (Jared Gilman) and a bookish girl (Kara Hayward) who decide to run away together in an effort to temporarily escape their lives, — and more so, the parental figures surrounding them. A beautiful, subdued palette makes this oddity of a film a joy to watch, while a tremendous supporting cast — including Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis, and others — helps capture an eccentric summer filled with affairs and beachside portraits.
Another cult classic in the Mean Girls vein, Clueless adapts Jane Austin’s 1815 novel, Emma, and turns it on its head with a modern twist. It follows the wealthy and winsome Cher (Alicia Silverstone), a Beverly Hills high school student who sets out to unite two teachers and then popularize new student, Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy). The lighthearted film spurred a book series, but much like the TV series of the same name, it wasn’t quite the sleeper hit the original film was.