At the movies: Life in high school

Sullivan Hart, Writer

The film industry has produced an abundance of high school-related content, but is any of it even accurate? Specifically, is it accurate to New Prague High School? Four movies are being discussed: School Ties, Dazed and Confused, Breakfast Club, and High School Musical. Each movie has been compared to New Prague, given an overall rating of its accuracy, and given an overall rating of its quality. In addition to the analysis, a quote has been selected. The quote may have been chosen for a variety of reasons. Also, I would like to thank the people who helped me endure the roughly nine hours of movie watching necessary for this story. Without any further preamble, please enjoy the ramblings of another 16-year-old wannabe film critic. 

School Ties (1992)

Although the school and era are staunchly different from New Prague High School, there is a familiar message; a protagonist struggles to fit in when introduced to a new school (nothing too groundbreaking). Although David, the protagonist, was recruited to a prestigious preparatory school for his football merit, “School Ties” is not about sports. As a matter of fact, David is rarely even seen playing football. Instead, the drama focuses on the difficulties associated with pursuing an education while also learning to battle non-curricular struggles. Throughout the film, David and his classmates are tasked with sustaining the load of growing up under various pressures. Unlike other films that address similar struggles, School Ties has a more realistic variety of endings. The movie ends with characters in varying states of success and sorrow. School Ties captures the effects of excessive pressure on a student population. The experience of seeing one’s classmates change under pressure, for better or worse, is unsettling to say the least. School Ties succeeds at capturing this seemingly unique occurrence that nearly every student experiences. The film also conveys the pressures associated with high school responsibilities and the “snowball” effect that often comes with them. The movie dramatizes the hostility found in a school setting. The bar for what is deemed successful in all aspects of life is also drastically different for the majority of the students at NPHS. The last of the major differences is the magnitude of the consequences of each character’s actions. Generally, most things are dramatized; this can most likely be contributed to the fact that the movie is a drama (a groundbreaking realization). Although its setting is the farthest from New Prague High School, School Ties is the most accurate out of the four movies.

Overall Accuracy: 8/10

Author’s Rating: 9/10

Quote: “We do the things they tell us to do, and then they give us the good life. God damn hope we like it when we get it” – Charlie

Courtesy of Gramercy Pictures

Dazed and Confused (1993)

Dazed and Confused is about the last day of school for a variety of rising-freshmen and rising-seniors. The seniors attempt to fulfill the expectations that are set on them by partying, drinking, and hazing. The main theme of the movie is consistent with the experience at New Prague: the status quo is flawed, but no one attempts to fix it. At this high school in Austin, it’s idiotic hazing traditions. Despite nearly everyone in the town acknowleging that the traditions are stupid and that they don’t agree with them, they still partake. The strongest critic, Tony, still partakes in the hazing when he asks a freshman a series of inappropriate questions. Another similarity is the ignorance that the school is treated with. The rest of the town sits by and pretends that their students aren’t being affected by the actions occurring at the school. This ignorance allows the students to literally run free around Austin with very few consequences ever occurring. This trend can be seen at New Prague. Despite having presentations and speakers with no real effect on the student body, the reality of how students are being affected during their high school years is treated with ignorance. The obvious difference is the existence of severe hazing. Although some freshmen may experience instances of agism, there is relatively little hazing at New Prague. Dazed and Confused is more similar than it is different. 

Overall accuracy: 6.5/10

Rating: 8/10

Quote: In ‘76, “It’s the old old vs the new”; “Our class is just worthless” – O’Bannon

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Breakfast Club (1985)

As one of the most well known high school films, The Breakfast Club deserved to be compared to New Prague. The film takes place entirely on Shermer High School property, but only shows five students and one faculty member. Despite only having six cast members, the film attempts to represent an entire school population by portraying extreme characteristics of different high school stereotypes. Throughout the movie, the originally starkly different characters realized they have more in common than expected; without going into detail, they all share the same issues that seem to plague every high school. The film also sends a message that certain punishments, in this case detention, may not be effective. It is common to see people in schools spiral and get trapped in a cycle of actions and repercussions, and the film demonstrates the potential start of that spiral. Each character, at most, commits a minor infraction and receives nine hours of detention (besides Bender, who is serving a year of detentions). By the end of the movie, they each are more rebellious than the beginning. The movie does a good job of showing the balance each character has. Their successes are caused by troubles; for example, Brian’s success in academics is evened out with severe anxiety and irrational thinking caused by his own expectations, Andrew’s success in sports is caused by his father’s expectations, and so on. Overall, the detention shapes, or at least reveals, a different side of each character. 

Accuracy Rating: 7/10

Author’s Rating: 6/10

Quote: N/A (very few meaningful quotations that aren’t clichés)

Courtesy of Disney

High School Musical (2006)

However much we may deny it, High School Musical affected our prejudices going into high school. The film is extremely inaccurate when compared to the mundane nature of NPHS. High School Musical simultaneously exaggerated how accepting and contentious the culture surrounding a high school, or at least New Prague High School, really is. Troy, the protagonist, faces immense difficulties when he tries to participate in the school play while being the star of the basketball team. In reality, this hostility would not be nearly as prevalent. The film’s resolution also shows rousing support for Troy when he follows his dream. Rousing support is equally unheard of at New Prague High School. Instead, the typical high school experience lies in the grey. Neither black nor white. Just boring.

Accuracy Rating: 4/10

Author’s Rating: 6/10

Quote: “Look, you’re a hoops dude. Not a musical singer person” – Chad