The approach of summer is always an exciting time for any student no matter what year of school they’re in. Nothing beats the anticipation of having a few months off of a grueling school schedule and endless homework.
Each of these movies deals with the last day of school in one way or another, reminding audiences of the joys and triumphs that can be had from the promise of summer ahead. These last day of school movies have great friendships and heartfelt coming-of-age stories as students grow up.
Updated on June 11th, 2021 by Kristen Palamara: There are countless movies about teenagers in school or kids growing up in relation to school and the upcoming summer break that are relatable, hilarious, and nostalgic for viewers. End of school year movies usually have teenage drama, comedy, and friendship as every character grows up throughout the movie whether it’s the two best friends not wanting to say goodbye before college like in Superbad or Booksmart or students singing their way through life like Grease or High School Musical 2 here are some of the best movies to watch on the last day of school.
14 Honorable Mention: High School Musical 2 (2007)
The beloved sequel not only had arguably just as many catchy songs as its 2006 predecessor; it also introduced us to a world where East High saw its doors close at the very onset.
Each of the Wildcats’ faithful – who have since been immortalized within the franchise’s Disney Plus spinoff – must turn to summer jobs at a country club to pass the time. But not before a classroom-set opening musical number that still has fans counting down the minutes until summer break.
13 Grease (1978)
Grease is an iconic movie musical that follows high school students in their senior year of school leading up to the last day before they all move on from high school.
The school year starts at the beginning as Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and Danny (John Travolta) realize that they’re now going to the same school after a summer fling just a few months before the school year began. The year is summed up with music from “Summer Night” to “Greased Lightnin'” all leading up to the end of the year carnival.
12 American Pie (1999)
American Pie is another movie that follows a group of high school seniors as they’re about to graduate from college.
This movie is raunchier than Grease as it focuses on a group of high school senior men trying to lose their virginity before graduation and college. The first movie of the entire franchise follows the group of friends as they try to navigate their sexual lives and keep their friendships.
11 Say Anything (1989)
Say Anything is a classic rom-com that follows two completely different people from the same senior high school class graduating and beginning a relationship the summer before college.
Diane (Ione Skye) is the school valedictorian and has only focused on school and extracurricular activities, but Lloyd (John Cusack) is more focused on his friends and asking Diane to a party on the night of their graduation. The movie follows the two in their relationship leading up to Diane leaving for college.
10 Lady Bird (2017)
Lady Bird is a coming-of-age story about a young woman (Saoirse Ronan) who has a difficult relationship with her mother (Laurie Metcalf) and is just trying to get through her last year of high school so she can run away to college.
The movie follows Lady Bird in her last year of high school through her misadventures with love, friendship, and family before the summer and her starting her freshman year at college.
9 Eighth Grade (2018)
Eighth Grade is a coming-of-age movie about Kayla (Elsie Fisher) who about to graduate the eighth grade. Kayla’s had a terrible year and is having a very difficult time finding herself, who she truly wants to be, and finding inner confidence and self-esteem.
8 Can’t Hardly Wait (1997)
Before American Pie, there was this teen ensemble. The film effectively wove various plots all related to multiple”down-to-rage” characters on the night of their high school graduation.
7 Grown Ups 2 (2013)
This star-studded comedy contains its antics across the beautiful dichotomy between the last day of school and the first day of summer.
The Sandler gang and their eclectic band of repertory players all collide to throw the ’80s themed-party-to-end-all cinematic ensembles in Lenny Feder’s (Adam Sandler) backyard. When it comes to weighing in favor of its word-of-mouth reputation over the critical consensus, DO believe the hype… boiiiiiii.
6 A Goofy Movie (1995)
Disney’s animated film, which notably performed better over VHS release than in theaters, was chockful of company line-toeing life lessons. All involving the adventures of the titular star and his soon-to-be high school graduate son Max over the summer before the latter is set to leave for college.
The dwindling days of childhood are tackled at length throughout this road trip raucous affair that winds up with Goofy and Max stage-crashing a Powerline concert by film’s end. Hyuck!
5 Booksmart (2019)
Actress Olivia Wilde proved to have auteur-status staying power with her directorial debut. The film starred Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever as teenage best friends seeking to come out of their shells on their last day of high school.
In an episode of DGA’s “Director’s Cut” podcast, Wilde revealed she requested the actresses establish a rapport by becoming roommates prior to, and during production. The result: ultra-genuine on-screen chemistry that reminds audiences of their own day-1’s from way back when.
4 Superbad (2007)
Catapulting Jonah Hill and Michael Cera to instant fame, the acclaimed teen comedy that also introduced the world to “McLovin of Hawaii, 23” took the “let’s lose our virginities before college” plot-premise to new heights as well.
Perhaps its most original contribution to the subgenre, however: its strengths in characterizing its villains (co-writer Seth Rogen and Saturday Night Live‘s Bill Hader as manchild cops) like no film had since Home Alone prior.
3 Billy Madison (1995)
In his first box-office smash as a leading man, Adam Sandler went back to school to experience a lifetime’s worth of graduations on the grade school scale.
With one iconic line after the other, the first in a string of ’90s hits for the comedian-turned-movie star proudly eluded critics while eating from the palms of its cult backers. Self-proclaimed revolting blobs who are all smart enough to know when it’s too hot out here for a penguin to just be walking around.
2 Recess: School’s Out (2001)
Off the backs of the debacle that was the film iteration of the Doug series they acquired from Nickelodeon, Disney was hellbent on faring better with its big-screen take on their own Recess cartoon. An outing reminiscent less of the 1997-2001 series than it was of something arguably ghost-directed by a gatekeeper of all things nostalgia in Quentin Tarantino.
With a soundtrack to die for and a psychedelic aesthetic (plus some ’60s-set flashbacks to boot), Recess: School’s Out literally plays with global, laser beams-shot-at-the-Moon stakes far beyond the Third Street Playground.
1 Dazed And Confused (1993)
Richard Linklater delivered the quintessential “hangout movie” with the film that jettisoned the careers of then-unknowns like Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey.
The film tackles the “be blazed or be hazed” exploits of Texas high school students running wild on their final day of class in 1976. With a budget largely dedicated to acquiring the rights to the iconic ’70s songs masterfully distributed throughout, the film proved school might be out for summer as Alice Cooper professed; but that the party starts now. Meet at the Moontower for further details.
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