Updated: Jul 21, 2020
Welcome to dreamland! Picture this… you’re 13 years old and watching a new movie and all of the sudden the scene changes from high schoolers in a cafeteria to high schoolers acting out a jungle scene, fighting over the hot dude, narrated by the main character. What is going on??
I’m talking about the lunch daydream scene where Cady attacks Regina like a tiger in Mean Girls, then yes! Dreams are an iconic storytelling device used across all mediums to lend a window into what the character is thinking and feeling. I know how high I feel while watching The Big Lebowski’s dream scene. Today we are looking at some of the best dream sequences from high school movies.
Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion from 1997, starring Mira Sorvino as Romy and Lisa Kudrow as Michele. Two dim-witted, inseparable friends hit the road for their ten-year high school reunion and concoct an elaborate lie about their lives in order to impress their classmates.
Dream sequence (spoiler that this part is later revealed to be a dream) - At the reunion, Michele hears Romy claiming she invented Post-its by herself. Michele convinces the A-Group she invented a special kind of glue. Sandy Frink, the nerd who had a crush on Michele in high school, has become wealthy and attractive since high school, and hits on Michele. Romy reunites with her high school crush and hit it off. Both Romy and Michele win awards as the "Most Changed For the Better" members of their graduating class (in an LOL dream moment, Michele is only wearing her bra when she accepts the award) but they still refuse to speak with each other. Seventy years later, an elderly Michele learns Romy is on her deathbed, and calls her to make amends. However, they rehash the same argument and Romy dies without resolving their issues.
Another high school classic we alluded to is...
Mean Girls from 2004, starring Lindsay Lohan as Cady, and the incomparable Tina Fey as Ms. Norberry. Cady Heron is a hit with The Plastics, the A-list girl clique at her new school, until she makes the mistake of falling for Aaron Samuels, the ex-boyfriend of alpha Plastic Regina George.
Daydreams - A repeating daydream sequence in this movie is Cady imagining the high school like the wilderness that she grew up in in Africa. My favorite is when she imagines the mall as a watering hole in the savannah and the “Your hair looks sexy pushed back” scene in the cafeteria
For anyone who doesn't like scary movies, we've sandwiched this scary movie dream sequence in the middle.
Carrie from 1976, based on Stephen King’s novel by the same name, stars Sissy Spacek as Carrie White, and Piper Laurie does an amazing job as her overly protective and religious mother, Margaret White. Carrie White, a shy, friendless teenage girl who is sheltered by her domineering, religious mother, unleashes her telekinetic powers after being humiliated by her classmates at her senior prom.
Dream sequence: This is a bit of a spoiler, but you’ve had plenty of time to read the book and or watch the movie. At the very end of the film, after Carrie dramatically kills her mother and burns her house to the ground, it pans to a lovely ranch home where one of Carrie’s classmates, Sue Snell, is in bed sleeping off the terror that has unfolded. You then see Sue wearing a beautiful dress, she’s carrying flowers, and is swathed in this beautiful glow. She is walking to the remains of Carrie’s house where there is a crudely drawn “for sale sign” where someone has spray painted “Carrie White burns in hell.” Sue puts the flowers on the ashes, but then… A bloody hand emerges from the ground and pulls Sue who starts screaming, and then it immediately pans back to her house where she is screaming and writing in her sleep and her mother is trying to calm her down. This is one of the first examples of the “final scare”!
Now for something less scary and more… Greasy!
Grease from 1978 features Olivia Newton-John as Sandy Olsson and John Travolta as Danny Zuko. Good girl Sandy and greaser Danny fell in love over the summer. When they unexpectedly discover they're now in the same high school, will they be able to rekindle their romance?
Dream sequence - when I think of Grease, I think of beauty school drop out… Frenchy’s hair is pink and she’s having a hard time at beauty school. Hunka hunka Frankie Avalon is her guardian angel which is adorable because he was once the OG Teen Idol in real life during the Beach Party movies beginning in 1963.
And last but not least, a movie that I don’t think is as popular with our age group but is absolutely lovely and fun.
Peggy Sue Got Married from 1986 starring Kathleen Turner and Nicholas Cage as Peggy Sue and Charlie. Peggy Sue faints at a high school reunion. When she wakes up, she finds herself in her own past, just before she finished school.
Dream sequence - The dream sequence is practically the entire movie. Peggy Sue lived the dream life in high school - she is popular, her boyfriend is Nicolas Cage, and then before she knows it, she is 43 and married to her shmuck high school sweetheart who has run off with another woman. At her 25th high school reunion, she faints and returns to high school as her 18 year old self, but with her adult brain! Does she go back to her real life? Or does she take the opportunity to do things over? Peggy Sue makes different choices during her “dream” like hanging out with the nerdy valedictorian and sleeping with the artsy loner who, 1) plays Beni in The Mummy and 2) asks her to go to Utah with him and another woman to join them in a polygamous marriage, where the two women can support him raising chickens while he writes. She tells him that he should go to Utah and that he should use their night together as the topic he writes about. I won’t spoil the ending, but in addition to being a fun story, it makes you examine your own life. What would you do if you could go back in time with the information you have now? Youth is wasted on the young! Helen Hunt makes a cameo as adult daughter of Kathleen Turner and Nick Cage.
Makes me want to watch all the movies!
We hope you enjoyed learning about our favorite dream movie scenes.
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Sleep tight! And remember, don’t let the movie dreams bite! Night night!
Amelia & Cecilia
Super Cut Video of Dream Sequences by Supercut https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPvNX-ZbnyI
Romy and Michele:
Peggy Sue Got Married: