Oh, high school, you eternal fountain of youth — where the girls come model-pretty and mature for their age, the boys are star athletes with fully developed vocal cords, your English teacher is Michael Vartan, and all your homework problems are actually matters of life and death. All true, if your high school is set on a Hollywood campus.
If you’ve ever seen a John Hughes film, lived through the ’90s, or followed Lindsay Lohan’s early career, chances are, you’ve seen a high school-set film with a dance scene. Now, compared with typical high school dance experiences — which may or may not have involved more unglamorous scenes such as shoving 16 over-made-up girls and their scrawny dates into a stretch limo having just left an awkward group photo with their parents earlier — these Hollywood-ified versions read more like glitzy Broadway productions or well-honed Shakespearean soliloquies.
Unless we’re all doing it wrong, I’m annoyed that most high school movies use the dance as the ad hoc arena to dump all the good stuff. They make it seem like every high school dance is the apotheosis of the school year, i.e. your life. After all, from a screenwriter’s perspective, the dance is the perfect setting, as you can get all your major characters in one room, everyone looks beautiful because they’re all dolled up, there’s a guaranteed audience with the rest of the student body, and there’s ample opportunity to set the scene with moody music.
Whether it’s a Sadie Hawkins, a seasonal formal, homecoming, or — hold for bated breath — prom, the high school dance is Hollywood’s convenient little plot device, wherein something that’s been building in the movie is about to hit its boiling point, or all hell breaks loose. I’ve identified three high school dance themes for you fellow PopWatchers peeved about Hollywood’s adolescent movie wrongdoings:
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