Saturday, October 13, 2012

Top 5 Movie Guide: Educational Comedies

For this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we decided to round out the Educational segment, and offer the other end this week, Educational Comedies. You'll recall that just a few weeks back, with the release of "Won't Back Down", we comprised our top Educational Dramas list. Now, with the release of "Here Comes the Boom", we figured there no better time to unveil an Educational Comedies list. The two make a great pair, and are perfect for any holiday or birthday gift.


Similarly to the last round in the education department, we refined our picks to those films pre-college. There will be time down the road for a pure college list, and since this newest title is based out of high school, we decided to save all of those films for a later date. But again, kindergarten through high school was allowable.

The big problem with the comedy end of things was figuring out which teen and coming-of-age titles really qualified as "educational", and which were simply teen or coming-of-age movies. So just as with the Dramas list, you'll see various parameters set by individual writers for their own lists, but overall, whether it the student-teacher relationship, the focus simply on the educators, or the focus on the school/educational process/system, all of these titles met the criteria one way or another.

There were very few repeats this week, so plenty of titles were features. Hit the jump for all of them!

Alex Schopp -
It was really hard separating this list from just a standard 'Teen Comedy' list, since many of those take place in or at school. So my only requirement was that there had to be at least one notable teacher-student relationship/interaction that helped define the student/film.

     1. School of Rock (2003)
I didn't think this would be my #1 selection, but there was no clear favorite going in. I worked backwards with this list and this was just the title that was left. Solid film though with plenty of great comedy and music; plus in all actuality, this film might provide the best student-teacher relationship of any film on this list.
     2. Election (1999)
Poor Matthew Broderick. He sure doesn't fare too well in this one. This is a great satire on student-teacher relationships though. Plenty of good comedy, and Reese Witherspoon in one of her better roles.
     3. Summer School (1987)
Just one of those great stories about a teacher who did it for all the wrong reasons but then finally connects with a rag-tag group of students and they all work together to achieve their goals. Great characters for a film like this; definitely better than it should be.
     4. Kindergarten Cop (1990)
Arnold Schwarzenegger and small children. What's nice is they found a plot that not only works in plenty of the mismatched comedy that this combo creates, but there's also some good action as well.
     5. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
Everyone just remembers Sean Penn as Spicoli from this film (okay, and Phoebe Cates), but what about Ray Walston's performance as Mr. Hand in the film? His presence has much to do with the development of Penn's character.

Ben Foutch -
Like our earlier Educational Drama list, this list focuses on the teacher, in honor of the title this list is inspired by.

     1. Election (1999)
"Larry, we're not electing the f%&$ing Pope here. Just tell me who won."
     2. School of Rock (2003)
"I pledge allegiance...to the band... of Mr. Schneebly... and will not fight him...for creative control... and will defer to him on all issues related to the musical direction of the band."
     3. Summer School (1987)
"Your teacher was arrested for giving vodka to students."
     4. Kindergarten Cop (1990)
"There IS no bathroom!"
     5. Hamlet 2 (2008)
"No one is shutting down this play. The Justice Department and the so-called Supreme Court can suck my balls."

Derek Clem -
As I did with Educational Dramas, I wanted the films I chose to focus mostly on the educators rather than just the students.

     1. School of Rock (2003)
I think we all wish Jack Black was our grade school music teacher. Do you realize how much more passionate children would be about learning an instrument if they were taught via classic rock.
     2. Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993)
The end performance is a major pay off.
     3. Senior Trip (1995)
This was a major staple in my junior high experience. For a time in my life this was one of my most quoted movies. The instructors are a little less represented in this movie but they still play a major role by chaperoning a school trip to Washington D.C. You can find a young Jeremy Renner in this film.
     4. Summer School (1987)
A funny take on a guy who went into teaching for all the wrong reasons yet ultimately learns it was his true calling.
     5. Election (1999)
More of a dark satire, but Mathew Broderick makes this film a necessity for this list.

Nathan Hinds -
This was a tough category to compile a list for since it felt like most of these just happen to involve kids in school vs. the movie being about school itself.

     1. 21 Jump Street (2012)

     2. Kindergarten Cop (1990)

     3. Easy A (2010)

     4. School of Rock (2003)

     5. Billy Madison (1995)



Andy Schopp -

     1. The Girl Next Door (2004)
This movie is so smart that it's annoying sometimes. But it's a damn fine piece of cinema.
     2. Can't Hardly Wait (1998)
It's "Dazed and Confused" for a different generation in many ways.
     3. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
A staple to any High School list; it may not be quite as comedy-oriented as others, but it's funny enough for me to justify it.
     4. School of Rock (2003)
The role Jack Black was born to play.
     5. Orange County (2002)
If you don't like this movie, just know that you are wrong.

So that's what we're looking at this week, folks. Plenty of great variety, as 15 different titles were featured. Only a few stood out as repeat selections, but it was "School of Rock", Richard Linklater's 2003 hit, that was the only title selected by all parties. This is one of Black's better performances, and features plenty of love and comedy. Even if not the top selection by all (two), it still feels the face of this list, most popularly defining every aspect you want in a category like this. This is an easy recommendation if for some reason you haven't seen it yet.

Outside of that though, only three other titles had multiple selections: "Election", "Summer School", and "Kindergarten Cop". Some solid titles in there, and probably a few that could have been passed over in years past (especially with younger generations). If any of these titles you haven't seen (or heard of), give them a watch; hopefully you'll get the same enjoyment out of them that some of us were able to.

That's all we have this week though. So as always, we hope that each of these selections helps you to expand your knowledge and appreciation of some of the best films that this category has to offer, and guides you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!