Some of us were elated, others disappointed, but whether or not you decided to attend this year’s Spring Fling concert, there's no denying that The All–American Rejects are throwing us way back. For some, the era of “Gives You Hell” and “Move Along” are tragically superimposed over that dreadfully awkward phase between elementary and middle school. If the now cringe—inducing emo subculture spared you, I’m sorry that The All–American Rejects didn't mean as much to you as they did to me. Either way, taking a trip down memory lane can be an illuminating experience, or, you know, a reminder of just how old you’re getting. As Fling brings back the music of middle school, here are five movies that will throw you back to a simpler time.
Toy Story 3 (2010)
Toy Story 3 is one of those movies that just gets to people. It’s often heralded as one of Pixar’s finest works, which is saying something given the gems of animation the studio has since released. Brought to us at a time when we were beginning to outgrow the activities and possessions of our early childhood, Toy Story 3 had a way of tugging at our heartstrings even then. We knew that, one day, we would be just like Andy at the end of the film, closing the door on the first chapter of our lives and moving onto something new. Though coming from what is essentially an animated film about pieces of sentient plastic, the emotional reach of Toy Story 3 has proven to be among the most deeply and widely felt in recent cinematic history.
For a lot of us, Insidious may have very well been the first PG–13 movie we didn’t have to sneak into. Though it has since grown into a four—part franchise, the original still gets the job done when it comes to delivering scares without sacrificing story. In what was a world of seemingly innumerable and excruciatingly boring Paranormal Activity films, Insidious made post–trick–or–treating middle school Halloween parties more chilling than ever before. Though not quite disturbing enough for our parents to shut off while we shoved our faces full of candy, Insidious isn’t without its charms, and now comes with an extra helping of nostalgia.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
It was around this time that many of us started to appreciate comedies with a bit more style and wit than the usual slapstick variety that we’d grown accustomed to. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was the kind of colorful, dynamic action–adventure romcom that hit all the right notes for the fussy, easily bored middle schoolers many of us were. Edgar Wright’s distinctive transitions and stylish action sequences haven’t lost their charm over the years. There was a lot to love about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, so much so that some of us may have even been begged our parents to let us dye our hair like Ramona’s.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
It wouldn’t be a 2000s childhood without everyone’s favorite fantasy franchise. We all knew that the end of an era was coming, but after a somewhat disappointing penultimate installment in 2010, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was exactly the epic needed for such a monumental piece of early 21st century youth culture. Although most of us were too young to experience the thrill of watching each movie installment upon its release, our middle school selves were caught up by the time the series was set for its last hurrah. It was then that we sat in awe trying to understand how Neville Longbottom managed to become more attractive than Harry and Ron. We all felt that wave of relief rush over us as we realized that maybe we too could achieve such a miraculous glow up.
If you were anything like me in sixth grade, you watched Inception with your family and were forced to explore the “deep inner meaning” of the film for the next three weeks of your life. Inception was the nerdy, science–fiction version of a James Bond movie you didn’t know you needed, but after watching it for the third time over to finally get it, you got it. Sure, the practical effects are pretty spectacular, and the Hans Zimmer score is a good backdrop for intense nights of studying at Van Pelt, but what really keeps my mind buzzing with questions after all these years is that infuriatingly ambiguous ending. Damn you, Christopher Nolan.