To Sir, With Love (1967)
One of the first films in the genre of ‘inspirational teacher turns bad kids good’, To Sir, With Love brushes over some of the less appealing aspects of the Swinging Sixties but makes plenty of time for naughty students from rough East End homes. Sidney Poitier is the talented teach who takes the class to the museum and (surprise, surprise) treats them as adults.
You can’t get much more extracurricular than Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman). Not content with heading up every wacky activity at his private school and directing the school play, he also manages to get tangled up in a love triangle involving primary school teacher Miss Cross and industrialist Herman Blume (Bill Murray). Schwartzman gives good tantrums and Bill Murray plays Bill Murray very well.
More after the break...
Gus Van Sant takes the Columbine High School massacre as the inspiration for Elephant, which casts pretty unknown actors to play various angst-ridden teens. Things take a turn for the dark when some of them get hold of rifles and make sure not to leave any of the cliques – or staff – out of the ensuing murder spree.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)
Maggie Smith shines as the headstrong teacher Miss Jean Brodie who puts together a small club of 12 year old protégés in 1930s Scotland. It all turns sour when she gets past her ‘prime’ though, as her pupils start getting into mischief that goes against her guidance. Then again, she is having two affairs with co-workers – so she’s hardly one to talk.
Mean Girls (2004)
Remember when Lindsay Lohan was best-known for being an up-and-coming actress instead of a burned-out Hollywood casualty? This was one of the films that showed off her early promise – a biting satire of high school cliques which sees new girl Cady (Lohan) ingratiating herself with the cool kids as part of a long-term revenge plot.
The plot thickens as Cady destroys the Queen Bee starting with her love life, to her figure to exposing the "Burn Book" – a top secret notebook filled with vicious rumours, secrets, and gossip about all the other girls (and teachers) in their class. Ouch.