Palo Alto High School's Arts and Culture Magazine

C Magazine

Palo Alto High School's Arts and Culture Magazine

C Magazine

Palo Alto High School's Arts and Culture Magazine

C Magazine

Behind the Scenes of Adolescence

Ten movies that (more) accurately portray the high school experience

From calculus finals to prom, high school is constantly referred to as the “time of our lives”, where teens grow up, discover their passions and have relatively little responsibilities. 

The film industry is constantly trying to mirror this experience and reflect it on the big screen, yet, they often fail by casting unrealistically attractive actors as the nerdy boy who lives next door and writing the script with the single goal of receiving a paycheck. 

This inaccurate portrayal can leave teens feeling alone in their feelings and experiences. So, as somebody a couple of months away from graduating high school, here are my recommendations of films that come the closest to capturing the complexity of high school.

The Edge of Seventeen

Welcome to the tumultuous world of Nadine, where teenage angst meets comedic chaos. This movie is a rollercoaster ride picturing everything from hilariously awkward moments to relatable issues in friendships.







Following the self-named “Ladybird’s” rebellious spirit as she meets the trials and tribulations of teenage life in Sacramento is one of my favorite pastimes. I have watched this movie at least five times and it never fails to hit close to home as a high school senior longing for adventure.








The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Watching the misfit siblings, Patrick and Sam, dance to “Come on Eileen” is a scene that plays on a loop in my brain. This movie follows high school freshmen, Charlie as he faces the struggles of finding friends and grapples with his own mental health.


The Breakfast Club

I originally watched this movie because my mom called it a “classic,” only to realize it is so much more than an iconic high school tale. Saturday detention brings five students from wildly different cliques together as they are forced to spend the day together.


10 Things I Hate About You

Arguably my favorite movie to exist, this romantic comedy of two sisters with very contrasting aspirations navigate an overbearing single dad, college decisions, egotistical boys who will break your heart and rebellious boys that may secretly have a sweet side.





The Spectacular Now

Sutter Keely getting awoken from a drunken sleep on someone’s front lawn wasn’t exactly how he expected to meet Aimee Finicky, but as ironic as it sounds, it may have been meant to be. Sutter, a careless partying teenage boy unsure of his future, and Aimee, a studious girl who too often puts others dreams ahead of her own, both learn something from one another as they finish out senior year together. 







The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

A comforting film of friendship and self discovery is captured through a single pair of jeans while being passed between four best friends, each with their own unique plans for their summer.





The Half of It

Who doesn’t love a love triangle? This movie follows Ellie Chu who agrees to write a love letter for an awkward jock unsure of how to express himself. This movie touches on friendship, LQBTQ+ identity and family responsibilities in a refreshingly unconventional coming of age tale.






This quirky story about teenage pregnancy starring Elliot Page and Michael Cera as hilariously awkward and brutally honest high schoolers is definitely one of its kind. The soundtrack has been added to multiple of my playlists and although the experiences of Juno may not be exactly relatable to you, her unapologetic authenticity is outstanding. 






Two best friend academic overachievers have an unforgettable evening the night before graduation after a sudden discovery that there is more to high school than hitting the books. Trying to fit four years of fun into one night makes for a hilarious story of epic misadventures.


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About the Contributor
Mary Henderson
Mary Henderson, Managing Editor
2022-2023 Staff Writer 2023-2024 Managing Editor I joined C Mag as a way to express my creative side and advocate for subjects I am passionate about. I adore the supportive and fun community that C Mag creates, whether that be writing a story with someone new or staying late at productions with friends. I love the freedom that comes with journalism and how it is a platform to highlight underrepresented communities and issues. In my free time, you can almost always find me at the pool playing water polo or blasting Taylor Swift somewhere.