Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

Top 5 Back to School Movies

MrHollandsOpuspicforic.jpgSome students–and teachers–have already been forced to give up their fun in the sun and others will be forced back into the world of textbooks and tests next week. (On the other hand, the cheers you are hearing are from all of the parents!)
So in honor of the transition into fall, and because I will not be returning to a classroom for the first time in several years–I’m listing a few of my favorite back-to-school movies. Some celebrate education, some mock it, but they are all worth visiting on DVD one more time!
Tell me what movie motivates you as you, or a family member, head back to school by leaving a comment below.
Mr. Holland’s Opus: As one of the original inspirational teacher movies that was designed to gain an actor Oscar consideration, Richard Dreyfuss was masterful as a composer who hates teaching music but then learns to love the job and the students.
Chalk: I have recommended this mockumentary before as a DVD pick, and I still say the whole family can find something to relate to in this “Office”-like look at school life.


Half Nelson: Okay, I put this on the list to show my dark side. I used to watch this movie as a sort of twisted back-to-school ritual. Ryan Gosling is convincing as an unorthodox, frustrated teacher who has a drug addiction and finds his life changed by one of his students who wants to help him go straight. Trust me, this movie as not as unrealistic as you might think.
Dead Poet’s Society: Everyone wishes they had a teacher like Robin Williams, right? It’s overwrought at the end, but the story of a bunch of boys at an exclusive private school whose lives are changed by an irreverent teacher is a classic and introduced us to Ethan Hawke and Robert Sean Leonard.
Paper Clips: This is one of my favorite documentaries of all time and shows what both teachers and students can learn outside of the classroom as they collect paper clips as part of a memorial to the lives lost in the Holocaust.
Richard-Dreyfuss at

  • Carrie

    Another good one is Knights of the South Bronx with Ted Danson.
    He plays a man who has just been let go by his company and reluctantly returns to teaching school. Hoping for middle school assignment, he is instead given a grade school classroom in the inner city. As a method for teaching, he begins using his hobby as a chess master in the classroom. The students learn many valuable lessons academically and more importantly about self-esteem, and the teacher learns what it means to open up and follow his heart as well. I definitely place this in the same category as Mr. Hollands’ Opus and Dead Poet’s Society.

  • Gloria409

    Best “Back to school” inspirational movie ever? “Stand and Deliver”. Based on a true story, about teacher Jaime Escalante who took on an impossible class in an inner-city school and somehow convinced the kids that they were just as good as anybody~~that they could pass an AP exam too. If you haven’t seen it, why not? I put it in the class with “To Kill A Mockingbird” or “Casablanca” in terms of quality films. The Superintendent of my school district was just referring to this movie and urging all of the educators to see it when school opened last week.

  • Cambria M.

    What about Anytown USA by Kristian Fraga? I saw this recently and the characters running for mayor, along with their politics, form an eerie mirror of what is happening right now in the current political arena. It seems like just another story of a mayor’s race, and then completely morphs into exactly the same story of George Bush vs. faceless, personality-less Democrats, and a whole bunch of other people with better ideas and more passion, but seemingly very little power – aka progressives. Spooky good fun, and really useful as a primer on election season politics.

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