Today is October 3, the day we nationally celebrate Mean Girls Day by quoting the shit out of it and having Mean Girls marathons. If you’re a Mean Girls fan, celebrate today with this list of 25 other movies you’ll adore. On this, the greatest of all days, we must share the love.
An absolutely savage satire of life at a Christian High School, Saved! was supposed to be the coming out party for Mandy Moore’s career, deliciously sinking her teeth into the role of a controlling queen bee. That never happened, but you have this underrated, quotable gem to console you anyway.
The never-better Reese Witherspoon tears the roof off of this movie, an adaptation of Tom Perrotta’s slim novel about the politics of high school elections. Bonus points for an absolutely horrid-looking at Matthew Broderick, making us rethink being attracted to him in Ferris Bueller.
The darkest comedy ever made about high school, Heathers was conceived as the Full Metal Jacket of teen movies. Winona Ryder stars as a popular girl in a Plastics-like clique who gets tricked into murdering all of her friends — and then covering it up as suicide. The script was penned by Daniel Waters (brother to Mark) and it’s comic savagery is truly inimitable.
Writer-director Whit Stillman creates a world of dialogue that exists only in his movies, creating a posh language of pop culture references, literary allusions and affectations that’s both an ode to the young and pretentious and a brilliant takedown of them. Metropolitan is like Woody Allen for kids, and it both makes you nostalgic for your youth, and glad you never have to be that clueless again.
5. Bring It On
There’s a reason that Bring It On has hung around: It’s a sharp, energetic take on the compromises we take to fit in during high school and what it means to stand out. Unlike other high school films, it doesn’t beat you over the head with its messages about non-conformity, instead giving you smart, witty characters to root for and a bittersweet ending that’s just right.
Also starring Kirsten Dunst, Bachelorette is like what would happen when the Plastics grew up, and writer-director Leslye Headland goes all-in on this pitch-black comedy. Bachelorette is so accurate about female friendships and rivalries its actively painful to watch, but it’s also buoyantly hilarious, thanks to a truly committed performance from the always wonderful Isla Fisher.
Bonus: The genius cult classic Drop Dead Gorgeous, also starring Kirsten Dunst.
7. The Perks of Being A Wallflower
Perks plays the horrors of high school for a very different tone — a hopeful and nostalgic movie about the relationships we build and the people we have to let go. Stephen Chbosky adapted his own book for the film, and it’s the rare adaptation that works just as well on the screen as the page. Bring every tissue you can find.
Coming-of-age movies don’t get much better than Diner, Barry Levinson’s 1982 classic about four guys struggling with adulthood. The largely improvised movie shows how we change as our friendships do and perfectly captures what it’s like to have to move on in your early 20s, when you’re not quite ready to grow.
9. Cruel Intentions
If you don’t have Dangerous Liaisons around, you could do worse than Roger Kumble’s trashy-yet-fun adaptation of the classic Choderlos de Laclos novel. It’s anything but perfect, but Sarah Michelle Gellar vamping it up in full drag queen mode to the tune of “Bittersweet Symphony” is worth the price of admission alone.
10. 10 Things I Hate About You
Although a flop upon release, this Shakespeare adaptation later found the cult it deserved by being much better than anyone expected. Pulling together a strong teen ensemble — with a young Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and an in-her-prime Julia Stiles — 10 Things is a wise and funny movie about teen relationships that looks at stereotypes with a knowing wink. She’s All That stole its thunder, but 10 Things did high school justice.
11. Pretty in Pink
No one alive understood teenage angst better than the non-teenage John Hughes, and his movies are a perfect glimpse at a time when you’re trying to be an adult without knowing what that means. Pretty in Pink asks difficult questions about what it means to love someone who can never return the gesture — and when it’s time to fight and time to move on. John Hughes just gets it.
12. The Last Picture Show
Like a much sadder Friday Night Lights set in the 1950s, Peter Bodganovich’s 1971 classic is about teens coming of age in a small Texas town, set against the backdrop of football and the closing of the town’s movie house. The movie is desolate and gorgeous, sexy and devastating — about the lessons we learn the hard way and the ones we might never learn.
13. Welcome to the Dollhouse
I have a difficult time sitting through Todd Solondz’s sociological ode to growing up unpopular, because Dawn Wiener hits too close to home. Solondz makes you feel just how mean kids can be, and the experience of Welcome to the Dollhouse is brilliantly devastating, like reliving the worst parts of your youth all over again. Make sure to bill all future therapy to Todd Solondz.
14. Never Been Kissed
Never Been Kissed is like the nicer version of Dollhouse, when you grow up, get hot, have to go back to high school as an undercover reporter and fall in love with your hottie teacher (Michael Vartan) but not before becoming the most popular and beloved girl in school for most of the reasons you were unpopular the first time. At least that’s how I wish it happened.
Fame is like Glee except that it doesn’t make me want to tear my eyes out and bleed to death slowly. Alan Parker’s 1980 musical drama is still the best ever made about young people singing their feelings, so iconic that it will continue to be remade for the rest of time. Like the song suggests, Fame lives forever.
16. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Before making his flawless directorial debut with Say Anything…, Cameron Crowe wrote the script for Fast Times, directed by Clueless’ Amy Hecklerling. This was the 80s teen movie that started it all, a perfect mixture poignancy, pathos and uproarious raunch. It also helped make Pheobe Cates the most desired woman in America for positively two seconds.
17. She’s the Man
Amanda Bynes is a connoisseur of the teen genre, between Sydney White and What A Girl Wants, but this is one of her brightest spots, a goofy update of Twelfth Night that she seriously kills. Bynes was born to be a comedienne, with a way of making everything she does funny, and this movie is a glimpse into what could have been.
Also check out: The ever-wonderful Hairspray, in which Bynes has a choice supporting role.
Rushmore is just about as good as it gets, an absurdly charming movie about a ludicrously over-involved prep school student put on academic probation. Wes Anderson’s second film is still one of his finest, whose Max Fischer is both annoying and totally wonderful. He might be kind of a bastard now, but Max Fischer could grow up to be a cool guy someday. Get back to him in ten years.
19. The Faculty
By the man who penned Scream, The Faculty was one of that series’ many teen horror offspring, but it’s one of the best. Directed by Robert Rodriguez, the film’s fabulous cast gives Kevin Williamson’s dialogue real zest, with Famke Janssen, Piper Laurie, Josh Hartnett, Elijah Wood, Clea DuVall and Salma Hayek to deliver it. Props for casting Usher in the same role he always played in the 90s, the cool black guy you know because he’s so cool.
Note: If you haven’t seen Scream, you should do that now.
20. Strangers With Candy
Spawned from the Comedy Central cult TV show, Strangers with Candy is one of the weirdest comic creations in history, about the vaudevillian misadventures of a 46-year-old ex-junkie who goes back to high school. Amy Sedaris’ Jerri Blank is bizarre, inappropriate and totally hilarious, a future Halloween costume just begging to be worn.
The tart and twisted Jawbreaker is an obvious descendant of Heathers, but Rose McGowan gives Darren Stein’s script a life all its own. Set against a candy-colored backdrop, McGowan’s Courtney Shayne is the reason to watch the movie, a teen queen so magnetically awful you can’t help but root for her. If bad looks this delicious, who wants to be good?
22. Easy A
Easy A became a sleeper hit in 2009 for re-introducing the world to Emma Stone, who had never been quite this good before. Stone nails the film’s mile-a-minute one-liners, which made this slut-shaming comedy better than it had any right to be, an unexpected teen classic.
23. The House Bunny
Stone also appeared alongside Anna Faris in this underrated 2008 comedy, but no one noticed because Faris stole the show. Faris continually surprises by just how brilliant she is, able to elevate decent material to another level. This pleasant movie about girl world got taken up to 11 with her performance, simultaneously deranged, sly and uproarious, showing why Anna Faris is one of the funniest women alive.
The quintessential 90s comedy, Clueless was a lot smarter than we all realized when we were in middle school. Amy Heckerling’s script, based on years of research on Valley Girl-speak, is a satire of California girls that’s so gentle it’s like a big hug. It’s brilliantly quotable and years later, still rings totally true. We all are Cher Horowitz, just as clueless as ever.
25. Pitch Perfect
This sharp 2012 comedy is quickly getting the reputation of being “the new Mean Girls,” but we all know there can only be one. That, however, shouldn’t stop you from enjoying Pitch Perfect, which boasts a truly on-her-game Rebel Wilson, making every line count as Fat Amy. I want to be Fat Amy when I grow up.
Extra Credit: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Sure, the TV show is better, but you need to see where it all began.