Staff Picks: Smells like school spirit

You can enjoy Homecoming from home by indulging in a “school spirit” movie, such as “School of Rock.”

Screenshot via Netflix

You can enjoy Homecoming from home by indulging in a “school spirit” movie, such as “School of Rock.”

By The Pitt News Staff

School spirit. A phrase that invites both joy and fear in the hearts of all students.

Perhaps you’re a big fan of all the homecoming festivities. You love football, burgers and the blue and gold glitter all around campus. Or maybe you’re not too keen on celebrating, and it brings back some unpleasant high school memories.

Either way, you can still enjoy the homecoming by indulging in a “school spirit” movie. Not a movie necessarily about homecoming itself, but about the “spirit” of school in all its wonders and interactions. High school, middle school, elementary school — the possibilities are limitless. There’s something in all of these choices for every student, no matter which crowd you choose to spend game day with.

School of Rock (Netflix) // Diana Velasquez, Culture Editor

In truth, I don’t think there’s a time in your life where you’re more school spirited than “elementary school.” It’s all arts and crafts, field trips and uncomplicated fun times before puberty arrives to screw everything up. And if you’re an elementary school kid getting electric guitar lessons from Jack Black in preparation for a secret underground rock competition? Well, it’s hard to get more spirited than that.

“School of Rock” is a childhood classic of mine, and it’s a really fun movie. It stars Jack Black as Dewey Finn, a down-on-his-luck guitarist, who finds himself masquerading as a substitute teacher at a stuck-up private school. He convinces the students he’s assigned to teach that they should be learning all there is to know about music, particularly rock and roll. So he garners up a “band” of little elementary school rockstars, with the goal of enrolling them in the “Battle of the Bands” to win a hefty cash prize. It’s a hysterical movie, and despite the musical and school-centered shenanigans at its heart, the movie is about lifting up some sheltered kids and allowing them to indulge in their passions. Who’s to say a 10-year-old can’t rock out on rock and roll?

Mean Girls (Amazon Prime) // Maria Scanga, Staff Writer

At first glance, Tina Fey’s 2004 teen comedy “Mean Girls” focuses on what makes high school so terrible — mean girls. Riddled with irony and humor, the film follows the all-too-familiar “clique-y” nature of high school, specifically girls who target the weaknesses of their fellow classmates. Their cruelty is even permanently displayed in what they call a “burn book,” which, at least they think, is only ever going to be seen by the girls themselves. When the drama they cause seeps into the walls of their own group, it’s every man for themselves. Their leader, Regina George (Rachel McAdams), exposes the book, blames it on everyone but herself and chaos erupts.

Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan), the newest member of the mean girls, takes the blame for the burn book and finds herself banned from school prom, one of the biggest school spirit events there is. But in true “Mean Girl” film fashion, Cady is elected Prom Queen. Cady exemplifies school spirit by breaking the crown, sharing it with a bunch of other equally deserving girls, and swears to shun mean girl culture out of school forever.

The Breakfast Club (Amazon Prime) // Nadiya Greaser, Staff Writer

John Hughes’ “The Breakfast Club” is maybe his best-known movie, a feat for a man who made a career out of cataloging teen angst and the trials and tribulations of high school. At this point, it is a well-worn, well-loved classic — its best lines immortalized on Hot Topic T-shirts and its characters revived in Halloween costumes every year. The soundtrack is so established that it inspired countless homages, and the filmography spawns endless pop  culture references, both for good reason.

But beyond the witty one-liners and impressive lipstick tricks, “The Breakfast Club” challenges the social conventions of high school and voices the anxieties of every adolescent on the cusp of adulthood. It’s that one horrible thought we all have — “my God, are we gonna be like our parents?” The movie is both decidedly of its time and timeless. Although the school spirit looks a little more like anti-establishment angst, and the pep is more drug-induced enthusiasm than anything else, “The Breakfast Club” is maybe the most well-known high school movie. Some might even call it the ultimate high school movie.

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid (Disney+) // Darin Fields, Staff Writer

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is not a good movie by any stretch, but it is cathartic. We all knew that one kid in middle school who was just the worst. The kid who you could tell cared an unusual amount about climbing up the popularity chain and would do anything to increase their social ranking. Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) is exactly that — he is an annoying, pre-pubescent child who believes that the sole purpose in life is to become a high-ranking middle schooler. He literally has his own school-wide popularity rankings!

The movie itself is a jumbled mess of interconnected plot lines with no real transitions, making the movie feel more like a compilation of short skits. But what brings me back to this movie time and time again is seeing Greg Heffley repeatedly getting slapped in the face with karma. The film basically follows the pattern of Greg doing something horrible in the pursuit of popularity, and then getting embarrassed or suffering some sort of punishment. It’s simply enamoring to watch.