3. Mean Girls (2004)

102.mean.ls.121112This is a fantastic teen comedy about ugliness that can stir within the midst of the beautiful.

Lindsay Lohan stars as a teenager who moves from Africa with her family and enters a public high school where she becomes involved with the popular girls. When she shows an interest in the leader’s ex-boyfriend she is betrayed but remains friends in order to sabotage their popularity. It is wonderfully detailed with a lesson for anyone who has ever felt the harsh lashes of bullying.

This movie is directed with insight by Mark Waters who previously directed Lohan in the overrated Freaky Friday. He also had the misfortune of associating his name with the embarrassing Head Over Heels. What truly works is the detailed characters that rise above teen movie conventions. Lohan is hilarious as Cady whose high school experience is different but her dealings with verbal abuse is sneaky.

Rachel McAdams is excellent as the cruel ring leader, with the insecure yet loyal gossip Lacey Chabert and the unintelligent rants of Amanda Seyfried who both steal scenes as fellow mean girls. Tina Fey brings comical sensibility as a teacher with good intentions yet she gets caught up in a subplot involving a Burn Book.

Another thing about this movie is its story. Thanks to the wonderful screenplay by Tina Fey, audiences of young and old can enjoy and appreciate its lighthearted humor despite it being labeled “a teen movie”. Being recognized as one of the most quotable movies of all time, Mean Girls is sure to make you smile and laugh out loud all the way through.

2. Neighbors (2014)

img33Seth Rogen was one of the funniest actors in Hollywood, he has been one of my favorite actors since Knocked Up (2007) and Pineapple Express (2008). In this comedy directed by Nicholas Stoller, Seth Rogen plays Mac, an average man with his wife, Kelly (played by Rose Byrne) and an infant daughter, who move to a suburban neighborhood to start new lives.

Everything starts off well until Delta Psi Beta, a college fraternity lead by Teddy (played by Zac Efron) moves next door. Mac and Kelly do their best to become friends with them. However, after Mac and Kelly call the cops for a noise disturbance during a wild party, an all-out feud ignites between the two neighbors.

Neighbors is a killer funny comedy that had me laughing almost non- stop. Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, along with the rest of the cast were quite hilarious. Seth Rogen and Zac Efron showed excellent comedic chemistry with each other. The party scenes in the frat house showed these actors at their finest comedic performances. Like many Seth Rogen comedies, this film has its raunchy sex humor.

If you’ve seen This Is The End (2013), Superbad (2007) or other Judd Apatow comedies, you will be pretty familiar with the humor. Although it may take its R-rated humor to the extremes at times, including a scene where the baby is caught with a condom in her mouth (as shown in the trailer), but it is always funny and never tries to be overly gross. This film also does a well job at realistically portraying the experiences of college fraternities, as Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are constantly competing against the fraternity in a series of ridiculous, crude pranks and antics.

Neighbors is a must-watch for Seth Rogen fans, as well as those who enjoy raunchy R-rated comedies.

1. Dazed & Confused (1993)

Dazed & ConfusedDazed and Confused starts with the song Sweet Emotion by Aerosmith playing in the background while we get a visual montage covering a whole bunch of characters who are in the film and then when we see them interact with each other, it becomes very clear that this film is about youth, it is about counter-culture and the wild lifestyle that youngsters get seduced by during their high school or college life. But the film is also about the 70s. The dresses, the long hair, the bell-bottoms and innumerable classic rock music references oozes the carefree spirit of the 70s. There are also a few subtle, understated hints at growing feminist ideas.

There are a lot of characters in the film. Generally, the experience that I have had with films with a huge ensemble cast is that there are always characters who are more interesting than the others and there will also be characters who are not as interesting as the others. This is also the case here to some extent, but overall I found the cast to be a good, enjoyable company. You get characters belonging to different groups in the high school environment.

There are the arrogant jocks, the shy and nervous freshmen, the intellectual and studious kids as well as some kids who don’t belong to any specific group. Slater is undoubtedly my favorite character. He is always absent minded and intoxicated with marijuana, but he comes up with these absurdly funny lines which are utterly bonkers, but which are in his head very philosophical. I thought most of the characters had their own identities and personalities.

It is difficult to build an emotional attachment with any particular character due to the presence of so many of them. But to me the chemistry between Sabrina and Tony seemed extremely adorable and interesting. It was also great to see Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey at a very early stage in their respective careers and this film also marked the birth of McConaughey’s now infamous catchphrase.

The Screenplay

I thought is well written and the film moves at a fair pace with reasonably sufficient attention given to every character. The lines and dialogues are a bit over the top, but that might have been intentional, just to underline the superficial need for the characters to look cool and bad-ass. Richard Linklater also shows that underneath that flashy, cocky surface, the characters are all uncertain about their futures, they don’t know where they are headed, but all they want is to enjoy the moment.

Linklater was a relatively new director at the time and he had not yet become as polished and as sophisticated a director as he has since become. So I did find some loose edges to the directorial work in the film, but as a whole he succeeds to create this nostalgic 70s vibe in the context of the high school seniors passing out. The acting is on an average good, however there are some actors whose deficiencies with regards to acting skills are also apparent.
So as a whole, this is not a flawless film and Linklater has subsequently gone on to do much better work, but it is certainly one of those films that will rekindle this sense of nostalgia in the hearts and minds of the viewers.

Quite clearly this has inspired TV Shows like Freaks and Geeks¬†and a number of high school films like the “American Pie” film series. We have all gone through that rebellious stage of our school and college lives when we just couldn’t find satisfaction in anything other than Rock ‘n’ Roll and when conforming to the rules and regulations of the older generations seemed unthinkable. No matter the age of the viewer, this film will certainly make you live those memories again.

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