We all know about school cliques. You’ve got your jocks, your artsy types, your “popular girls”, your nerds… and now The Inbetweeners – the guys that aren’t the bottom of the pile, but definitely aren’t on the top if it either. A very British version of a very American conceit – the “Spring Break!” movie, in effect – their TV show spin-off hits cinemas screen this week, offering a mix of cringe comedy, more cringe comedy and increasingly crude descriptions of sexual intercourse. You know, just the way you like it.
So to celebrate their inclusion into the high school movie clique canon, we’ve gathered together 12 other ganglets for you to thank God you’re not a part of…
Movie:** Mean Girls (2000)
*Leader of the gang:* Regina George (Rachel McAdams)
*Other members:* **Gretchen Wieners (Lacey Chabert) and Karen Smith (Amanda Seyfried)
*Reason for existence: *Being better looking than anyone else, shopping, filling the “Burn Book”.
Long before Rachel McAdams became The Time Traveler’s Wife and Amanda Seyfried donned her Little Red Riding Hood, both were members of notorious nail-varnish warriors The Plastics, the bitchiest, best-dressed, most unpopular “popular girls” at North Shore High School. Incredibly insular and really very nasty, it’s a genuine surprise when they accept new girl Cady (Lohan) into their posse. Admittedly, Cady’s looks and willingness to manipulate others make for a pretty persuasive application form, but still, these are The Plastics we're talking about. Happily, they eventually get their just deserts and we get a performance of the four of them singing ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ in tiny Santa girl outfits. Win-win, really.
Movie: Heathers (1988)
Leader of the gang:** Heather Chandler (Kim Walker)
*Other members:* Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty), Heather McNamara (Lisanne Falk) and Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder).
Reason for existence:** **Wearing bigger shoulder pads than an NFL linebacker, playing a brutal form of croquet, sexually intimidating lesser mortals.
The Plastics might be pretenders to the gaudy throne, but The Heathers were bitchy brats long before the Plastics' were a twinkle in their loaded parents' eyes. Three of the Heathers even have the same name – go ahead and guess what – giving them a terrifying ubiquity familiar to anyone who saw Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. Sad fact is, they don’t last that long as a unified group, not with Christian Slater’s Jason Dean running around with a bottle of sink unblocker, a dirty knife and a pistol. Still, despite their short lifespan, there’s no denying the long and intimidating shadow they cast over other high-school movie cliques.
*Movie: Easy A (2010)
**Leader: Marianne Bryant (Amanda Bynes) Other members:* Micah, Marianne's boyfriend (Cam Gigandet), Nina, Marianne's best friend (Mahaley Manning), and assorted other Christian types.
Reason for existence:** **Feeling morally superior to everyone else, organising things, praying.
Where most high-school movie cliques revolve around a shared love of violence, sport, violent sport or just “being popular”, Marianne’s church group has a defined and discernable purpose: being more Christian than you. Marianne herself decides that in the face of Olive Penderghast’s (Emma Stone) apparent sexual appetite, it’s her group’s duty “to pray for her… and get her the hell out of here”. Whether they succeed or not we won’t spoil, but know this: the movie contains not only Stanley Tucci, but Patricia Clarkson too, two of the coolest people in the universe. And Bynes does a superb job of subverting her usually rather likeable image.
Movie:** Superbad (2007)
*Leader of the gang: Seth (Jonah Hill) Other members:* Evan (Michael Cera) and Fogell/McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse)
Reason for existence:** **Nobody else really liking them. A mutual love of pornography, beer, and women who probably won’t sleep with them.
Now these guys are probably the closest thing America’s got to The Inbetweeners. Jonah Hill’s character is the ‘Jay’ of the group, all mouth and no trousers, while Cera’s Simon, the relatively normal one who might actually have a chance with women. Mintz-Plasse is probably Neil, the slowest one of the group. Seriously, who gets fake ID from Hawaii? And who only gives themselves one name on said ID? That name being… McLovin? Fogell, that’s who.
Movie: Dead Poets Society (1989)
Leader of the gang:** Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard)
*Other members:* **Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke), Knox Overstreet (Josh Charles), Charlie Dalton (Gale Hansen), Richard Cameron (Dylan Kussman), Steven Meeks (Allelon Ruggiero), and Gerard Pitts (James Waterston).
Reason for existence: Sharing the same teacher, John Keating (Robin Williams), and buying into his table-jumping, seize-the-day philosophy.
According to incredibly energetic English teacher John Keating (Robin Williams), the Dead Poets Society is “dedicated to sucking the marrow out of life”. That’s life and not, say, a T-bone. Joining it leaves the spirit soaring and women swooning, but from what we can make out watching the film again, it’s basically a group of well brought-up young men lurking in a cave. Okay, there’s poetry reading, sax playing, Playboy centrefolds to gaze at, and the odd attempt to carpe some actual diem, but it's mainly cave-lurky. Tricky things, diems. A word of warning though: unleashing all these creative juices may lead to detention, expulsion or even self-harm, so tread softly when you throw caution to the winds and live life to the fullest, eh?
Movies:** Back To The Future (1985), Back To The Future Part II (1989)
*Leader: Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) Other members:* Match (Billy Zane), Skinhead (Jeffrey Jay Cohen) and 3-D (Casey Siemaszko).
Reason for existence: Chewing matches, wearing 3D glasses, bullying George McFly and getting him to do their homework.
The actual names of Biff’s gang members aren’t explicitly mentioned in the movies themselves, but in the extended universe we learn that they go by the names of ‘Match’ (Billy Zane), who chews on a matchstick, Skinhead (J.J. Cohen), who has his hair cut very short, and 3-D, who wears those ‘50s 3D glasses you used to get on Shreddies boxes. You know, because he’s cool and such. Their actual motives within the movies are somewhat limited, however. Basically, their job is to be generally obnoxious and do what Biff says, but gosh, they do that well.
Movies: The Harry Potter series (2001-2011)
Leader: Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe)
Other members: Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson)
Reason for existence: Defending the magical world against the forces of evil on an annual basis, the fact that Ron and Hermione (SPOILER!) fancy each other a bit.
Now that the planet’s biggest movie franchise is over, let’s actually look at the magical trio in social-alienation terms. Arguably, they’re the clique-iest group in this whole list, remaining thick as thieves for seven long years, even going on long walks together (The Deathly Hallows: Part 1) and save the world from Voldemort in unison (The Deathly Hallows: Part 2). Plus, they’re a clique within a clique: a mini-group within just one year of just one house at the most exclusive magical school in the world. It’s a wonder that Seamus Finnigan and co. didn’t hate their bloody guts through the whole experience. Plus, Harry’s in the house Quidditch team in his first year. And he’s chosen for the Goblet Of Fire. And he’s got a scar on his forehead. Thinking about it, he should have been bullied all day, everyday, this kid.
Movie: American Graffiti (1973)
Leader: Hard to say... it’s a toss up between Steve Bolander (Ron Howard) and Curt Henderson (Richard Dreyfuss).
Other members: John Milner (Paul Le Mat), Terry ‘The Toad’ Fields (Charles Martin Smith) and Laurie Henderson (Cindy Williams).
Reason for existence: Simply put… “Cruisin’”. And racin’. And hanging out at drive-in diners.
‘Clique’ isn’t quite the right word for Steve and co. After all, during the one night that makes up American Graffiti, we only see all of them together twice: early evening at the diner and regrouping at the airport much later that night. Their disjointed little tales weave in and around each other, but there’s no doubt that the real story is their friendship, which is tighter-knit than a Balrog’s Christmas cardie. Sure, the greaser ‘Pharaoh Gang’ are a more traditional leather-clad bunch of hoodlums in George Lucas’s movie, but they don’t have The Toad, and The Toad is the bomb. Just don’t ask him to buy you any booze.
Movie:** Grease (1978)
*Leaders: Danny Zuko (John Travolta) / Betty Rizzo (Stockard Channing) Other members:* Kenickie (Jeff Conoway), Doody (Barry Pearl), Sonny LaTierri (Michael Tucci) and Putzie (Kelly Ward) / Frenchy (Didi Conn), Jan (Jamie Donnelly) and Marty Maraschino (Dinah Manoff).
Reasons for existence:** **Wearing leather jackets, fixing up cars and being cool. Also: wearing long skirts, slurping milkshakes, being cool.
Looking back at Grease, it seems like if you weren’t part of ‘The T-Birds’ or ‘The Pink Ladies’ (or even ‘The Scorpions’), you were pretty much nothing. Sure, you got to dance in the background, but you were never the lead, and God knows you weren’t going to sing. It’s tough blending into the background in a musical, and we all know it. Anyway, what can actually be said about these two groups of fun-lovin’ reprobates? They can sing and dance well, that’s for sure, and they have great unofficial uniforms. Better than any cliques we remember from school, anyway…
Movies: The American Pie series (not the spin-offs)
*Leader: Kevin Myers (Thomas Ian Nicholas)
**Other members:* James ‘Jim’ Levenstein (Jason Biggs), Chris ‘Oz’ Ostreicher (Chris Klein) and Paul Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas).
Reason for existence: To lose their virginity before their high-school graduation.
Unlike some of the other cliques we’ve seen so far – the guys in Superbad, say – there’s a genuine mix of personalities here amongst the American Pie crew. Kevin is confident and actually has a girlfriend, Jim is handsome and actually good at sports, Paul is snarky and actually knows a thing or two, and Jim, well, Jim’s Jim. He puts his private parts in pies. Let’s just leave it at that. But still, despite their differences, they’re a cohesive group and after god-awful spin-off movies like Beta House, Band Camp and The Naked Mile, we’re actually-sorta-maybe looking forward to American Reunion next year. As long as it’s better than Wedding. Please make it better than Wedding.
Movie: Rebel Without A Cause (1955)
Leader: Buzz Gunderson (Corey Allen)
Other members:** Moose (Jack Grinnage), Cookie (Jack Simmons), The Big Rig (John Righetti), Chick (Nick Adams) and Goon (Dennis Hopper).
*Reason for existence: *Physically intimidating new kids. Starting knife fights. Going on “chickie runs”.
Now this is a good old-fashioned gang... none of this a-singin’ and a-dancin’ nonsense the T-Birds would later popularise, the dweebos. Buzz and his gang of guys (and girls) were into danger, and lots of it. Bullying was just a hobby – what they really liked to do is drive cars fast towards cliffs, no matter how ludicrous that idea sounds written down. In fact, let’s try it again just to check: they like to drive cars fast towards cliff**s. Nope, still sounds nuts. But in a perverse way, these guys do give our hero a purpose – defending Plato (Sal Mineo) and Judy (Natalie Wood). Shame it has to involve death and knives and the police, mind…
Movies: The Twilight Series (2008 onwards)
Leader: Edward Cullen… kind of (Robert Pattinson)
Other members: Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene), Emmett Cullen (Kellan Lutz), Rosalie Hale (Nikki Reed) and Jasper Hale (Jackson Rathbone).
Reason for existence: Being very fast, very strong, very pale, very moody. Also, to sparkle in the sunshine.
Yes, they’re “family” but just because they share the same surname doesn’t stop them being bloody antisocial during lunchbreak – the ultimate indicator of supreme cliquey-ness – nor does it stop four of them from pairing off. Plus, they all dress the same (another key part of clique-dom), all wear the same make-up, all talk the same way, and all stick together like, well, vampires in a coven. If you want to join their gang, they’ll all want to bite you and drink your blood – a pretty nasty initiation ceremony. Afterwards, the upside is that you get to stay young and beautiful forever. The down side is that you have to spend at least 80% of your time moping.