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Most Memorable High School Buddy Movies From 'Clueless' to 'Superbad'

From Cher and Dionne to Seth and Evan, these teens made it through high school thanks to a little help from their friends.

Allison Bowsher
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From left to right: 'Clueless' and 'Superbad'

Paramount Pictures / Sony Pictures

Has anyone ever made it through high school unscathed by awkward interactions and embarrassing phases? Maybe, but it's rare. High school, the confusing time between childhood and adulthood, is a time of high emotions and confusing choices, from subjects to study to where to sit at lunch. Movie high schools typically offer a hyper-realized version of secondary school, highlighting one of the most important factors that determine whether students have good or bad memories of their teen years friendship. 

High school buddy films continue to pop up every few years because of their universality. In 2007, Superbad exploded into theaters with its raunchy jokes, memorable characters, and hilarious performances by its impressive young cast, which includes Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, and Emma Stone in her feature film debut. 

In addition to comical phallic drawings and fake IDs, Superbad also connected with audiences because of the friendship between Cera and Hill's Evan and Seth. The authenticity of the high school best friends should come as no surprise, considering the film was written by longtime writing duo and real-life besties Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, who penned the script while still in high school. 

To commemorate the 15th anniversary of Superbad, we're celebrating on-screen teen friendships. Here are 10 of the most memorable high school buddy films ranked by their Metascore. 


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From left to right: Beanie Feldstein and Saoirse Ronan in 'Lady Bird'

Universal Pictures

Lady Bird

Metascore: 93   
Best for: Dramatic coming-of-age films rooted in realism
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 94 minutes

Written and directed by Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird stars Saoirse Ronan as Christine "Lady Bird" MacPherson, a high school senior in California with aspirations of attending college as far away as possible from her family, specifically her mother (Laurie Metcalf), who is loving but frustrated with her headstrong daughter. Lady Bird's attempt to join the cool clique put her at odds with her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein). The childhood friends have their relationships tested when Lady Bird begins to ignore Julie, a move that is fueled by Lady Bird's crush on bad boy Kyle (Timothée Chalamet).

"It is smart without being smug, insightful without being condescending, funny without being mean-spirited and genuinely moving." — Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times


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From left to right: Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever in 'Booksmart'

Annapurna Pictures

Booksmart

Metascore: 84
Best for: Fans of buddy films taking place over 24 hours
Where to watch: 


Runtime: 102 minutes

Feldstein returns as Molly in another coming-of-age buddy film, co-starring with Kaitlyn Dever as Amy. Actor Olivia Wilde's directorial debut Booksmart follows Molly and Amy, high school seniors, bookworms, and best friends, who are shocked on the last day of school when they discover all the kids who partied for four years also got good grades and were accepted into top tier colleges. Realizing their noses-in-books approach to high school may not have been the best route, the friends decide to have one epic final night of high school, which will include drinking, hooking up with their crushes, and getting arrested. The heartfelt comedy explores the power of teen friendship and the universal difficulties of moving from adolescents to adulthood. 

"The film is simply intent on capturing the energy of that special 'us against the world' connection that can exist only in high school and unleashing it onto the screen." — David Sims,  The Atlantic


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From left to right: Michael Cera and Jonah Hill in 'Superbad'

Sony Pictures

Superbad

Metascore: 76
Best for: Comedy fans who want to see A-listers before they were well known
Where to watch: 

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Runtime: 113 minutes

If the sign of a great movie is quotable lines and memorable characters, then Superbad and specifically McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) fit the bill. It's the last day of high school, and childhood friends Evan (Cera) and Seth (Hill) manage to score an invite to the biggest party of the year. Their efforts to secure alcohol and get dates with their crushes eventually force the pair to face a reality they've been trying to avoid: that they're going to miss each other at college. In addition to writing the film, Rogen stars alongside Bill Hader as very, very bad police officers. 

"The bawdy jokes score big points, but it's the rueful acknowledgement of adolescent embarrassment and humiliation that most distinguishes Superbad, another ultra-raunchy and commercial sex comedy from the Judd Apatow laugh factory." — Todd McCarthy, Variety


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Katherine Langford and Nick Robinson in 'Love, Simon'

20th Century Fox

Love, Simon

Metascore: 72
Best for: YA romance fans who have been waiting for more LGBTQ+ stories
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 110 minutes

In 2018, Love, Simon arrived to help fill the massive void of LGBTQ+ films for young audiences. The romantic YA film follows teenager Simon (Nick Robinson), who has a loving family, great friends, and a big secret: He's gay. When a classmate learns Simon's secret, he threatens to out him, forcing Simon to turn against his three best friends, including his childhood friend Leah (Katherine Langford), who is in love with Simon. Betrayal, acceptance, and understanding are big themes in Love, Simon, which displays the power of friendship, especially during the teen years when young people are trying to understand their identity. The film is based on Becky Albertalli's novel of the same title and later spawned a television spin-off in which a young, closeted teenager named Victor (Michael Cimino) messages Simon on social media for advice on his own high school dating life.

"It's a canny blend of Degrassi and John Hughes, but here the kids mostly behave like angels. Love, Simon is the rare, feel-good gay movie." — Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post


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Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan in 'Lvoe & Basketball'

New Line Cinema

Love & Basketball

Metascore: 70
Best for: Movie fans who fall into the sports fans and romance fans sub-categories
Where to watch:

, , , , Netflix,
Runtime: 124 minutes

Writer Gina Prince-Bythewood made her directorial debut with 2000's cult classic Love & Basketball. The film stars Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps as Monica and Quincy, aspiring basketball players whose friendship during childhood and in their teen years eventually blossoms into romance. The pair's competition with each other and as players eventually ends their relationship, but the friendship they established in their younger years helps to bring them back together. Oh, and basketball too, of course. 

"The pic is so well directed and lead performance by Sanaa Lathan so charismatic that audiences will overlook the script's flaws and root for the central duo." — Emanuel Levy, Variety


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From left to right: Heath Ledger, David Krumholtz, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in '10 Things I Hate About You'

Touchstone Pictures

10 Things I Hate About You

Metascore: 70
Best for: Fans of rom-coms who want to see big-named actors before they were famous
Where to watch: 

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Runtime: 97 minutes

Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew gets a late 1990s update in 10 Things I Hate About You. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays new student Cameron, who befriends kind but nerdy Michael (David Krumholtz). Michael acts as Cameron's guide to his new surroundings, and together, the pair concoct a plan for notorious mean girl Kat (Julia Stiles) to date bad boy Patrick (Heath Ledger), which allows for Cameron to date Kat's younger sister Bianca (Larisa Oleynik). The rom-com has no shortage of memorable moments (Ledger performing "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" is especially entertaining) and boasts an impressive young cast that also includes Gabrielle Union. It does fall more into the rom-com genre than the friendship one, but there are enough male buddy antics to be considered here.

"Anyone who hates '80s pop will find this movie awfully tiresome, but Stiles and her underage Petruchio (Australian actor Heath Ledger, as hunky as his name) are charismatic and bold enough to carry any romantic comedy." — Justine Elias, The Village Voice


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From left to right: Stacey Dash and Alicia Silverstone in 'Clueless'

Paramount Pictures

Clueless

Metascore: 68
Best for: Fans of famous literature retellings with a high fashion twist
Where to watch: 

Paramount+Vudu
Runtime: 97 minutes

Is there a more iconic film displaying 1990s extravagance than Clueless? As if! The Emma-inspired Amy Heckerling film helped make stars out of its cast and inspired new slang around North America. The film centers on Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), a popular and rich California teen who rules the school with her best friend Dionne (Stacey Dash). Together, the pair help two teachers find love, give new student Tai (Brittany Murphy) a makeover, and continue to be the best-dressed coeds. It's a busy schedule for virgins who can't drive. 

"OK, the plot is inane, Val-gal-speak is a cliche, and Heckerling was more incisive covering similar hormonal ground 13 years ago in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. But there's still wicked good fun to be had." — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone


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Barbie Ferreira and Haley Lu Richardson in 'Unpregnant'

HBO Max

Unpregnant

Metascore:  61
Best for: Comedy fans who want a film with additional social substance
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 104 minutes

Friendship is tough, and that is especially true during adolescence. In Unpregnant, former best friends Veronica (Haley Lu Richardson) and Bailey (Barbie Ferreira) find themselves together after years apart when Veronica needs an abortion and a ride across several state lines. Bailey agrees to help Veronica, and the two embark on a road trip that forces them to confront why their friendship ended and find comfort in their renewed connection. 

"It's an uneven ride, rocky in places, but it's one that's also unquestionably worthwhile, a progressive, witty and timely way of reminding many of us how antiquated women's healthcare still is while also alerting a younger audience that there's more to the teen movie than Netflix." — Benjamin Lee, The Guardian


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From left to right: Alan Ruck and Matthew Broderick in 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'

Paramount Pictures

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Metascore: 61
Best for: Fans of classic comedies with less-than plausible storylines
Where to watch: 

Google PlayiTunesNetflixParamount+Vudu
Runtime: 103 minutes

One of film's most famous teenagers, Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), would not have been able to pull off his epic day without the reluctant help of his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck). The pair manage to evade their high school principal and Ferris' parents, enjoy fine dining, lead a parade, and return Cameron's father's car unscratched…until they accidentally destroy it. It seems like it would be much more fun to be Ferris than to be friends with Ferris.

"In this film [John Hughes] has created a character who is every teen-ager's fantasy, but in the process he has lost some of the authenticity of his other films — leaving several slow transitions or awkward moments." — Nina Darnton, The New York Times


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From left to right: Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino in 'Romy and Michele's High School Reunion'

Getty Images

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion

Metascore: 59
Best for: Fans of brightly colored comedies that don't take themselves too seriously
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 92 minutes

Best friends Romy (Mira Sorvino) and Michele (Lisa Kudrow) were able to withstand constant bullying in high school thanks to their close-knit friendship. The pair remain inseparable following graduation and decide to arm themselves with a makeover and a few lies when it's time to attend their 10-year-reunion. When their plans go awry and the popular girls attempt to humiliate the women, Romy and Michele once again find solace in their friendship. Come for the outrageous outfits, stay for the 1980s inspired choreography. 

"As lightweight as it is, it's easy to feel real affection for the movie." — Robin Dougherty, Salon