10 teen comedies with reel librarians

In my previous post, I highlighted the reel librarian’s cameo scenes in the 1999 teen comedy — a pitch-dark comedy! — Drop Dead Gorgeous. That got me to thinking about how many teen comedies feature scenes with school libraries and reel librarians. Let’s round up 10 examples, shall we? The movies below are listed in chronological order by year of release, starting in the 1980s.

The Last American Virgin (1982)

This Class III movie is a quintessential ’80s flick, about teenage boys seeking every opportunity to have sex. When we first watched this movie, my husband cheekily asked, “Is the librarian the title character?” No, she is not, y’all! The movie includes a brief — but memorable — fight in the school library. The school librarian, an older White woman with glasses, is shocked, I tell you, SHOCKED that fisticuffs fly in the school library! Her facial reactions are priceless.

Reel librarian facial expression in The Last American Virgin
Reel librarian’s facial expression in The Last American Virgin

Related post: ‘The Last American Virgin’ librarian

My Science Project (1985)

In this Class II film and action/adventure comedy, young student Michael (John Stockwell) is in search of a science project. He then breaks into a military base and finds a strange glowing orb, as you do. The orb wreaks havoc when it turns the school into a battlefield of the past, present, and future — because OF COURSE — and Michael and his friends must find a way to stop it. Michael goes to the library to find out information on time travel, and he gets help from Sherman (Raphael Sbarge), the school nerd and know-it-all who works in the school library.

“My Science Project (1985) Original Trailer” video, uploaded by Jason Hawk, Standard YouTube License

Pretty in Pink (1986)

This teen classic is part comedy, part drama, and part love triangle. Another classic ’80s movie — and fashion! Andie (Molly Ringwald) likes Blane (Andrew McCarthy) while her best friend, Duckie (Jon Cryer), pines for Andie. There is a brief scene in the school library, in which Blane flirts with Andie via the school library’s computers. You can catch a brief glimpse of a school librarian in the scene, landing this teen comedy in the Class IV category of reel librarian films.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'Pretty in Pink' (1986)
A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it glimpse of a school librarian in Pretty in Pink

Related post: The school library in ‘Pretty in Pink’

Summer School (1987) 

This Class IV film features Mark Harmon as gym teacher Freddy Shoop, who gets stuck teaching remedial English in summer school. On the second day of summer school, he takes the students to the library to work on book reports. You can juuuuuuust spy the back of the school librarian in the scene. It’s easy to miss her and her hair bow amidst all the hand-lettered signs in the library! 😉

The back of the school librarian can be seen right below a "Please Return Books Here" sign in the school library
The back of the school librarian can be seen right below a “Please Return Books Here” sign in the school library

Related post‘Summer school’ in the library

Pump Up the Volume (1992)

In this high school dramedy, and Class II film, new high school student Mark (Christian Slater) uses a short-wave radio to broadcast as pirate DJ Hard Harry, incurring the wrath of the principal. Student library assistant Nora (Samantha Mathis) investigates the DJ’s identity and finds out about Mark via the book he checks out at the school library. She impresses Mark, who calls her “fearless.” They have a super cute “Meet Cute” moment in the school library.

“Classic Girl – Samantha Mathis – Jane’s Addiction – Pump Up The Volume – 1990 – Allan Moyle” video, uploaded by Fred Fromberg, Standard YouTube License

High School High (1996)

In this Class IV film — a parody of films like Dangerous Minds — a naïve teacher (Jon Lovitz) gets a job at an urban high school. After he makes a would-be inspirational speech at the school assembly, the school librarian in the crowd yells out, “You suck!” A proud, inspiring moment for all librarians. 😉

“High School High 1996 Trailer | Jon Lovitz | Tia Carrere” video, uploaded by Trailer Chan, Standard YouTube License

Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)

This Class IV comedy focuses on teen girls (and their mothers) competing in a local beauty pageant. The plot includes murder, a huge swan float engulfed in flames, beauty pageant contestants upchucking contaminated seafood, and more! There are a couple of memorable closeups with an older librarian, who recalls her past as the beauty pageant winner in 1945.

The beauty pageant winner... turned local librarian.
The beauty pageant winner… turned local librarian.

Related post: ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’ librarian

The New Guy (2002)

In this Class III film, Dizzy (DJ Qualls) tries to restart the year at another school as the cool “new guy.” Why? Because he was humiliated at his old high school when a group of jocks pulled his underpants over his head and pushed him toward the school librarian. It is certainly a, uh, memorable opening scene!

The school librarian in The New Guy reaches out... but not in a good way!
The school librarian in The New Guy reaches out… but not in a good way!

Related posts:  The hand that rocks the school in ‘The New Guy’ ; Behind the blog: What goes into a film analysis post

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

In this Netflix teen comedy and romance, teen Lara Jean (Lana Condor) has to deal with the romantic complications that ensue after her secret love letters are exposed. There is a brief school library scene early in the film, in which Lara Jean breaks the silence rule (she eats a carrot). However, it’s not the reel librarian who enforces the silence rule — her fellow students take care of that! We do see a glimpse of the school librarian as Lara Jean enters the school library, placing this sweet teen flick in the Class IV category of reel librarian films.

Screenshot from 'To All the Boys I've Loved Before' (2018)
Lara Jean greets the school librarian at her high school

Related post: School library scene in ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’

Booksmart (2019)

In this whip-smart teen comedy directed by Olivia Wilde, two high school seniors and best friends (Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever) put down their books and let loose en route to graduation parties. OF COURSE they use a library to try and track down one party’s location. And OF COURSE they enjoy a fist-bump greeting with the librarian. This movie is so much fun!

“BOOKSMART Trailer (2019) Lisa Kudrow, Olivia Wild, Teen Movie” video, uploaded by Movie Trailers Source, Standard YouTube License

Sources used

  • Booksmart. Dir. Olivia Wilde. Perf. Beanie Feldstein, Kaitlyn Dever, Billie Lourd, Jessica Williams. Annapurna Pictures, 2019.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous. Dir. Michael Patrick Jann. Perf. Kirsten Dunst, Kirstie Alley, Denise Richards, Ellen Barkin, Allison Janney. New Line Cinema, 1999.
  • High School High. Dir. Hart Bochner. Perf. Jon Lovitz, Tia Carrere, Louise Fletcher, Mekhi Phifer. TriStar, 1996.
  • The Last American Virgin. Dir. Boaz Davidson. Perf. Lawrence Monoson, Diane Franklin, Steve Antin. Golan-Globus Productions, 1982.
  • My Science Project. Dir. Jonathan R. Betuel. Perf. John Stockwell, Danielle von Zerneck, Fisher Stevens, and Raphael Sbarge. Touchstone, 1985.
  • The New Guy. Dir. Peter MacDonald. Perf. DJ Qualls, Eliza Dushku, Zooey Deschanel. Bedlam Pictures, 2002.
  • Pretty in Pink. Dir. Howard Deutch. Written by John Hughes. Perf. Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy, Jon Cryer, Harry Dean Stanton, Annie Potts. Paramount, 1986.
  • Pump Up the Volume. Dir. Allan Moyle. Perf. Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis, Jeff Chamberlain. New Line Cinema, 1990.
  • Summer School. Dir. Carl Reiner. Perf. Mark Harmon, Kirstie Alley, Courtney Thorne-Smith. Paramount, 1987.
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Dir. Susan Johnson. Perf. Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, John Corbett. Netflix, 2018.

Author: Jennifer

Librarian, blogger, movie lover

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