The Movie Guru: Streaming movies that celebrate going back to school

"School of Rock" is currently streaming for free on YouTube.
Paramount/Courtesy photo

Summer may be drawing to a close, but there are plenty of movies that celebrate the return of school. Whether you’re gearing up for a new school year or just indulging in the memories, there are plenty of streaming options for whatever mood you’re in.

School of Rock (free from YouTube)

The ultimate movie for making school actually seem cool. We all would have killed for a teacher like Jack Black when we were younger, and as adults we’d kill to enjoy our jobs that much. Its message of acceptance and celebrating yourself is important, especially when delivered with plenty of humor and rock. A can’t-miss treat.

The Duff (Netflix)

Is it a little cheesy? Absolutely. It’s also one of the few high school movies where the weird girl doesn’t triumph because of a makeover. If you need something light, it’s the perfect, slightly offbeat fairy tale for anyone who’s ever felt like the odd person out.

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High School Musical (Disney+)

Though there’s a heaping helping of cheese in this one, it’s also an iconic high school movie for an entire generation. Sing along with the catchy songs, giggle at Zac Efron’s haircut, and dream about going to a high school where complex musical numbers are an everyday occurrence.

10 Things I Hate About You (Peacock)

Not only does this movie make high school feel incredibly iconic, it’s also the best adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” ever made. Come for the majesty that is a young Heath Ledger, stay for a world where the unpopular crowd are definitely the people to hang out with. No matter how old you get, this one is a perennial favorite.

Kindergarten Cop (Amazon Prime)

Yes, this is technically about an undercover detective, but it’s also one of the few movies to show kindergarten in all its adorable, deranged glory. Small children are capable of being incredibly cute, but they’re also capable of being madcap demons with the power to defeat grownups several times their size. It’s hilarious to watch from the safety of a screen, and a good reminder of how entertaining Arnold Schwarzenegger used to be before he turned into a politician.

Mean Girls (Netflix)

This one won’t exactly inspire warm and fuzzy feelings about high school, but it’ll make you glad to be out of it. The ultimate in high school cattiness, you’ll love the scheming as new girl Lindsay Lohan works to defeat the popular clique at her new school. The dialog is delightfully quotable, and it’s a nostalgia trip to see Lindsay Lohan in her glory days.

Booksmart (Hulu)

Yes, it’s about the last few days of high school rather than the first few. But “Booksmart” also does a fantastic job of capturing what it’s like to be a teenager, full of frustration and possibility in equal measure. If nothing else, it’s an entertaining reminder of what all that school is working toward.

Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at

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