Morgan Awyong
by Morgan Awyong

School. Is. Out!

It’s one thing to celebrate the holidays, but the searing summer can be quite the burner. So besides having a water-based diet for activities, one can always seek refuge in the cool and shaded confines of one’s home to enjoy some entertainment.

After a studious and hardworking first half of the year, it’s now time to get a little frivolous with our play. Picking the right movie is an art. Like the right snack, it should be fuss-free and digestible, yet with enough kick to whet our appetite. Better yet, it should have some common themes that encourages a communal bonding experience among the audience, and even inject some era representation.

We scoured through the archive time-machine so you don’t have to, and came up with these perfect films for your next movie gathering.

Carrie (1976)

Essentially a morality tale drenched in blood, Carrie is a frightful but fun watch with the group as the gears slowly turn against a poor girl with telekinetic powers. It may have been made in the 70s but the theme of bullying and its consequences remain pertinent, especially in these times.

The titular character is a shy and gullible girl who is suppressed by her religious mother, and her awkwardness invites the attention of popular girls like Christine to tease her ceaselessly. After a particularly harsh bullying which involves flung tampons, the girl gets barred from the upcoming prom. Focusing her anger at Carrie, she devises a cruel revenge with the help of her friends. But the hammer eventually backfires, as Carrie releases her powers upon the unsuspecting school during prom night. It’s essentially a high school Dark Phoenix moment.

Based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, director Brian De Palma manipulates both tenderness and terror with great skill and with Sissy Spacek’s incredible performance, Carrie remains a popular and rewatchable classic.


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1987)

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it,” Ferris Bueller advises - not just to his friend, but to the audience watching as well in a film that breaks the fourth wall of cinema.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a whimsical comedy, but also an existential philosophy for the adolescent. The smart quips and graceful nose-thumb at facile adult pursuits have soaked into pop culture with a lasting effect, and continues to inspire many today. Happening over just one day, we follow the adventures of best friends after playing truant, in their search to live life and rediscover self-respect.

Written in less than a week by John Hughes, who also runs double-duty as director, the condensed essence of capitalism’s ills was spun unconditionally in a lighthearted excursion - a feat that has been rarely achieved.


The Craft (1996)

A sleeper hit that landed with more impact than expected, The Craft has since gained a cult following and rumours of a remake has been bubbling for the longest time. Good news - it has been confirmed in March this year that there will be one.

What about this flick got everyone watching? Was it the high school outcasts turned witches? Or maybe the delectable punk-grunge mixtape of a soundtrack? Or maybe it tucked a #MeToo-worthy message that sings accurately of circumstances up to today? It’s probably all of that, plus Fairuza Balk. The latter holds nothing back as the sorcerer-turned-bad and dominates the horror in the final scenes of the movie.

The Craft magics growing-up pains into a supernatural tale of revenge and power, and how the different facets of women can be delightful and dangerous in the blink of an eye. We can’t wait for it to be reborn.


Mean Girls (2004)

Mean Girls

Spewing sassy catchphrases like a drunk Merlion, Tina Fey’s Mean Girls is one of the few pop culture icons that endures, unsullied by time. It’s the age-old story of a girl finding acceptance, before realising it didn’t have to come from other people.

While many female high school dramas go down the airheaded rom-com path, Fey’s cutting social commentary and rapidfire witticisms made this gem an entertainment workhorse. Against a backdrop of lame parents and hierarchical schoolyard cliques, the film dives right into a realistic portrayal of the societal ecosystem and yet elicits fun campiness for an addicting watch.

And as always, when our lead girl reveals the superficial girls called The Plastics for who they are and the system falls apart, her smug authenticity reminds us that nothing feels better than to be true to oneself.


The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The author of the book, Stephen Chbosky, had actually been approached by the same director mentioned earlier in this list - John Hughes - to write the screenplay, but without much traction, he decided to do it instead, and direct while he’s at it. And what a job he did.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower has been translated with splendid lyricism by the creator, and is one of the few examples of successful script-to-screen. It is as poignant as it is idealistic, and as gritty as it is poetic. The trials and tribulations of our shy boy who tackles his many layers of mental and social issues is like a fine onion - oddly sweet but brings on the tears.

Tackling complex matters like sexuality, substance abuse and trauma with an even hand, the issues surface with an honesty that makes this film an unflinching reminder of everyone’s choices and back stories. Watch it to feel alive, then race out into the sunlight of summer.