The Best GenX Movies from High School and College

Before we get to the actual list of movies, I just want to point out that yes that is me in the picture. 1987 prom.. big hair and all. Sadly the backdrop of NYC makes it a bit harder to tell The best movies of the 80s and 90sjust how high my hair was but let’s just say it was pushing the tip of the Empire State Building. Marsh’s hair was pretty high, too. Might have even been a mullet hiding in the darkness of the shot…

Okay! Moving on!

I don’t know about you, but I rarely get to the movies these days – could be because I’m cheap and can think of better ways to drop $50 than sitting in a dark space surrounded by people who don’t understand the basic rules of “turn your phones off”.

Maybe it’s because my ADD kicks in at some point and I can’t just pause the movie and get up and move around. But if you ask people what their favorite movies are, it’s almost always one that they saw during their high school or college days. Maybe it’s because we had more time to go to the movies then.

I was checking out some analytics on my site and noticed that a post I had done a couple of years ago, for some reason, was getting a lot of hits. It was about The Best Sing-Along Songs of All Time and it came as the result of a question I had posted on Facebook asking what everyone’s favorite sing-along song was. I realized that it had been too long since I crowd-sourced a post and decided to throw up this question:

What movie do you most identify with from high school or college?

Considering the vast majority of my Facebook friends are Gen X like I am, I also made the statement that they couldn’t ALL say “The Breakfast Club” because you know… that was THE movie of the Gen X generation. I absolutely loved the responses and while most of them were predictable, there was a lot thrown out that I hadn’t thought about in years!!

So without further ado and in no certain order, here are the movies that were mentioned the most and my awesome friends deemed the most influential from high school and college (and yes, it’s slightly heavy on the 80s and 90s):

Valley Girl – Okay so the only two people who mentioned this are me and Cristi but it’s my site so I can do whatever I want and this baby was THE movie of high school for me (TBC is a very, very, close 2nd). I have no idea how many times we watched this movie but suffice it to say it was a LOT. The acting sucked. None of the actors other than Nicolas Cage ever did anything else (and Nic is a basket case but I digress) and the lingo that came from the San Bernardino Valley is nothing short of nails on a chalkboard. BUT! It was a love story based on Romeo & Juliet and there are a million classic lines in it. If you’ve never seen it, do yourself a solid and hunt it down.

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The Breakfast Club – May as well go ahead and get this one out-of-the-way. If you were in high school between 1983 and 1988, chances are this is THE movie that defined your entire teenage existence. John Hughes just got teenagers which is why all of his movies were mentioned by at least one if not more people. I think I could do an entire article on TBC alone.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Oh Ferris. How we all longed to be him. Except for his sister. She hated him. How many of us just died to recreate anything remotely like that hooky day? And if you tell me you don’t look at your kids at some point and think or say “Bueller? Bueller” when they don’t answer you, you’re a liar.

Pretty In Pink – Yep. Another Hughes flick. Did you know that Molly is my Doppelganger? Or I’m hers? If I could get my hands on my 11th-grade prom picture, I’d post it. The 30th anniversary of this was last year and it was kind of cool to see the alternate ending which we all knew to be true… Duckie won in the end.

Sixteen Candles – Being a teenager is hard enough without a milestone birthday like 16 happening at the same time your narcissistic sister is getting married. And your grandparents are visiting. And the neighborhood dweeb is madly in love with you while the love of your life barely notices your alive.

Say Anything – I sat and waited for a long time before this one finally popped up. Over-achieving girl meets happy-go-lucky dreamer boy. Girl’s father disapproves of said boy. Girl breaks up with boy. Boy pursues girl relentlessly (romantic.. not stalky 😉 ). Girl realizes there’s more to life than school and work. Cue one of THE most romantic scenes EVAH!!! I mean, who can hear In Your Eyes without swooning like a love-sick teenager? Not me, that’s for sure.

St. Elmo’s Fire – I think a lot of us saw this while we were still in high school (1985) and since it’s about a group of friends who are dealing with life post-college, a lot of the drama was probably lost on us. But wasn’t lost on us was this group of friends had stuck together thru it all and were now dealing with real life and all its messy glory. And if you’re ever feeling a little down? Blast Man in Motion for a guaranteed pick me up.

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Clueless – DEFINITELY post-college for the majority of Gen X-ers but what an awesome movie this was. How can you resist Cher who is as sweet as she is spoiled and rich? She wants everyone to be in love and plays a matchmaker without missing a beat. Until it’s Cher who’s suddenly falling in love… for her step-brother…

Better Off Dead – I was quoting this movie just last week! There are so many great scenes and lines from this movie – the terrifying newspaper boy (“I want my 2 dollars!!!”), the Asian brothers who learned to speak English by watching Howard Cosell, the “French” dinner… if you haven’t seen this movie since high school, do yourself a solid and watch it soon.

Lost Boys – Uhm… I could just mention Kiefer Sutherland and call it a day because if you know me if it’s got my man Kiefer in it, it’s golden. This was OUR vampire movie before Edward and Jacob and sniveling Bella came along. Show your teens this one and then turn to them and say “Edward, who??”. Oh, and did I mention there are a bunch of other famous people in it with Kiefer?

Dirty Dancing – Nobody puts Baby in the corner. Sigh. Need I say more? I never went to any kind of summer camp much less with my parents but if I did, I would have hoped it would be one where there was a smoking hot dance instructor there to fall madly in love with and literally sweep me off my feet.

Heathers – Greetings and salutations… Closing out the group of “most frequently mentioned” is the darkly hilarious Heathers. Who didn’t want to take down the Queen Bees when they were in high school? Unless you were a QB and by now I hope you’ve atoned for your sins… When Winona Ryder’s “Heather” and Christian Slater’s “J.D.” accidentally kill the head “Heather” it starts a cycle of JD offing every person in the high school he doesn’t like. There’s so much to love about this movie and honestly, it was a nice twist from the other lighter flicks that we grew up with.

Honorable Mentions

These are a sampling of the other movies that people mentioned… all worthy of mentioning:

So there you have it… you now have a list to queue up your Netflix account or scour the local video store for. Is there a movie that resonated with you while you were in high school or college? Let me know which one it was in the comments!!