25. 'The Girl Next Door' (2004)
The premise -- high school nerd (Emile Hirsch) falls for porn star with a heart of gold (Elisha Cuthbert) -- smacks of 'Risky Business,' but this flick is much funnier and truer in its depiction of the gruesome battle that is getting into college. Plus, as said porn star, Cuthbert has never been sexier (or less annoying).
24. 'Fame' (1980)
What do you mean, you didn't dance on the tables in your high school cafeteria? In Alan Parker's exuberant chronicle of teen-artist angst, the students at the School of Performing Arts (now known as "The 'Fame' School") have mad skillz on stage; it's the rest of their lives that need work. At least they're gonna live forever.
23. 'Stand and Deliver' (1988)
The '80s and '90s are littered with films in which tough teachers inspire troubled inner-city students ('Lean on Me,' 'Dangerous Minds'), but 'Stand and Deliver' rises to the top. C'mon, the guy teaches gangsters CALCULUS. We knew Edward James Olmos was one badass hombre.
22. 'To Sir, With Love' (1967)
Sidney Poitier is Mark Thackeray, who gets his class of London toughs to achieve more than they ever thought possible. It was one of the first "teacher and his hard-case students" dramas, and a true classic; and when Lulu sings the title song at the end, you can't help but be moved.
21. 'Can't Buy Me Love' (1987)
A nerd (Patrick Dempsey) pays the most popular girl in school to date him and goes "from totally geek to totally chic" in the process. It's a scathing expose on the flock mentality, a feel-good romantic comedy and every dork's fantasy in one. Also, three words: African Anteater Ritual.
20. 'Brick' (2006)
A film noir set in high school sounds like an exercise in pretension, but director Rian Johnson's gamble pays off with a film that's smart, even brilliant -- from the rapid-fire dialogue to the twisty murder plot. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt, all grown up from 'Third Rock,' is the coolest gumshoe this side of Humphrey Bogart.
19. 'Friday Night Lights' (2004)
In Peter Berg's gritty gridiron drama set in Odessa, Tex., the pressure on high schoolers -- or at least some of them -- is intense: High school football is king in this small town, and winning the big game may be these kids' only hope of glory (and of escaping the dead-end jobs of their parents).
18. 'Superbad' (2007)
Too soon, you say? See it first, and THEN tell us we're wrong. No one "gets" the male psyche like producer Judd Apatow, and this take on high school life, seen through the eyes of three sweet, horny losers, is raunchy, hilarious and oddly endearing. It's juvenile in every sense of the word, and we mean that as a compliment.
17. 'Footloose' (1984)
He's six degrees removed from everybody now, but to us Kevin Bacon will always be spiky-haired Ren, who's stuck in a town where dancing is banned (boo) and only wants his senior class to have a prom. And the soundtrack! No wonder the movie's spawned a musical AND a remake. Zac Efron, get that velvet tux ready.
16. 'Grease' (1978)
Back when movies were based on musicals and not the other way around (see, umm, 'Footloose'), 'Grease' got us hooked on its good-girl meets bad-boy storyline, its cool '50s outfits and hot cars, and its sing-along songs -- even those added just for the movie ("Saaandeee ..."). Thirty years later, 'Grease' is still the word.
15. 'Napoleon Dynamite' (2004)
Admit it: Before 'Napoleon Dynamite,' you'd never heard of a liger (a lion and a tiger mixed, duh), or seen dance moves quite like those Napoleon (Jon Heder) busts out at the school assembly. Ah, that Napoloeon: He's one of the awkwardest teens we've ever seen, but he does play a mean tetherball.
14. 'Sixteen Candles' (1984)
John Hughes' directing debut -- an ode to the perils of growing up gawky -- not only gave Molly Ringwald her first big film role, but it also gave us our first (and only) encounter with Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling), aka the most perfect imaginary boyfriend in movie history. Sigh. Oh, to be that sweater vest.
13. 'Carrie' (1976)
It's a horror movie, but it's also a chilling on-screen metaphor for what it's like to be the high school outcast. In this Brian De Palma-directed thriller, preternaturally talented Carrie (Sissy Spacek) bears the brunt of adolescent cruelty (pig's-blood shower, anyone?). But don't you worry, those popular kids will pay ... dearly.
12. 'Pretty in Pink' (1986)
Molly Ringwald is Andie: quirky, smart and from the wrong side of the tracks. Her best friend, oddball Duckie (Jon Cryer), is in love with her; but she digs "richie" Blane (Andrew McCarthy), even if his name sounds like a major appliance. Nothing beats the bittersweet high school world of John Hughes in his prime.
11. 'Dead Poets Society' (1989)
Once upon a time, Robin Williams hadn't played a ton of "kindly father figure" roles yet, just this one: John Keating, the coolest English teacher we never had, who inspired us all to stand on our desks and quote Walt Whitman. 'Patch Adams' aside, he'll always be our captain.
10. 'Mean Girls' (2004)
'SNL' alum Tina Fey announced her presence on the movie scene with authority, penning this on-the-money flick about the hilarious (and potentially hazardous) effects of schoolgirl cliques. Also a positive: A pre-meltdown Lindsay Lohan takes on Rachel McAdams in an epic catfight. That is SO fetch.
9. 'American Pie' (1999)
When a bunch of high-school pals set out to cash in their V-cards before graduation, the result is an unabashedly crude, wildly hilarious, instantly legendary flick about good friends and first times. Watching it gives us an overwhelming sense of joy -- just like (making love to) warm apple pie.
8. 'Rushmore' (1998)
Poignant, peculiar and funny, this Wes Anderson masterpiece chronicles the misadventures of Max Fischer, an eccentric student who discovers that the secret to happiness is finding the one thing you love to do and doing it for the rest of your life. For him, it's going to Rushmore. For us, it's watching 'Rushmore.'
7. 'Heathers' (1989)
Christian Slater does a mean Jack Nicholson impersonation in this darkly comic revenge-on-the-popular-clique flick. He masterminds a violent vengeance on the Heathers with his girlfriend and ersatz Heathers member Veronica (Winona Ryder), but the whole thing blows up in their faces ... literally. Oh, the humanity.
6. 'Clueless' (1995)
As perky, spoiled Cher, the adorable Alicia Silverstone has us wrapped around her little finger, whether she's doing a makeover or being mugged and forced to ruin her designer dress. ("You don't understand. It's an Alaia!") The best movie ever based on a Jane Austen novel, 'Clueless' is way existential. As if!
5. 'Election' (1999)
In Alexander Payne's biting satire, Reese Witherspoon perfectly embodies type-A Tracy Flick, who always gets what she wants: After sleeping with a teacher and ruining his life, she runs for president, trashes her own posters and blames it on the competition. You always knew the popular girl had a dark side, didn't you?
4. 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High' (1982)
With Sean Penn as Spicoli, 'Fast Times' is hilarious enough to have made our best raunchy comedies list, but it's not a one-note flick. Stacy's (Jennifer Jason Leigh) plight -- the unplanned pregnancy, the "procedure" -- gives the film poignancy and depth. Still frickin' funny, but with a heart.
3. 'Dazed and Confused' (1993)
We get older, but this ode to the '70s stoner generation stays the same age. From dialogues on whether George Washington smoked pot to Matthew McConaughey's love of underage redheads, everything is timeless, with an important message to boot: "Keep on L-I-V-I-N!"
2. 'The Breakfast Club' (1985)
Dear Mr. Vernon: We accept the fact that ... well, that this is one of the greatest, truest high school movies ever made, endlessly quotable ("No, Dad, what about YOU?!") and brimming with real life, even though the teens barely leave the room. If only detention were always this eye-opening.
1. 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' (1986)
Matthew Broderick's Ferris skips school, snags a Ferrari and embarks on a day-long outing that includes a Cubs game and a parade-float rendition of 'Twist and Shout,' all while evading his principal and earning the sympathy of others. Who's the coolest teen ever? Bueller ... Bueller ...