Although there are literally thousands of movies, almost every time my high school friends and I decide to watch something at a sleepover, we’ve picked from the same few films. Find yourself doing the same? Why not try something new.
These are my new sleepover favorites—with an effort to exclude the cliché ones (see: Mean Girls and Clueless) that you and your pals are already watching anyway.
10. Baby Mama (2008)
Stereotypical high-strung business lady Kate (Tina Fey) can’t find a man but wants to have a kid, so she decides to use a surrogate, stereotypical crass hot mess Angie (Amy Poehler). Hilarious disaster ensues. This movie is super-dumb; I’m a huge fan of both of these women’s feminist smarts and the plot doesn’t exactly showcase their brilliance, but it DOES showcase an unlikely friendship between ladies, which I’m always down for.
9. The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004)
This isn’t a situation where the sequel is better than the original, but in this companion to The Princess Diaries, the Disney stopped loosely basing the plot on Meg Cabot’s young adult books and just went for it. It has a killer soundtrack…if you were a preteen in 2004, that is, but we were. The absolute highlight is Julie Andrews’ inspirational tune at Mia’s princess slumber party—interjected with rapping and sick beats by then-Disney superstar Raven-Symoné. Also filled with great I-don’t-need-a-man vibes. Good to watch if you need a movie to watch with a girl who hasn’t graduated junior high yet.
8. Ass Backwards (2013)
We’ve only watched this one once, and in two installments, because it is such a not-great film that we couldn’t make it through the first time. But it is so ridiculous that it’s completely worth your attention. Two washed-up total-mess best friends road trip to Neptune, New Jersey to compete in the beauty pageant they absolutely failed in as kids—but they have literally zero self-awareness so they think they can win this time. (Alicia Silverstone is the real beauty pageant star.) The movie features the talented June Diane Raphael (lesbian gynecologist Sadie on New Girl and Brianna on Grace & Frankie, among other things) and Casey Wilson as the BFFs. It’s the worst. You should watch it tonight.
7. RENT (2005)
Middle-class suburban preteens are seldom living “la vie boheme,” but we totally knew every word to this song
Ideally watched between Christmas and New Year’s, obviously. This one is cliché, too, specifically for the musical theatre nerd demographic. If your friends won’t let you sing along, just watch it alone. Or get different friends.
6. The Sound of Music (1964)
My inspiration as a babysitter, tbh.
Speaking of musicals… I cannot recommend a re-watch of this movie strongly enough, especially if you haven’t seen it since your childhood. First of all, you’ll probably understand that they’re rebelling against the Nazi regime this time around. Second of all, the music is even better than you remember. Also excellent for a sing-a-long. Don’t pretend you’re too cool for Julie Andrews. No one is.
5. Donnie Darko (2001)
Just to diversify genres a little bit. I’ve seen this movie probably five times in the past five years and I still have no idea what it’s about. But if your friends are more into troubled young Jake Gyllenhaal or science fiction or men wearing bunny suits (and bunnies wearing men suits?), this is the film for you. Also featuring super-young Jena Malone and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Jake’s on-screen sister.
4. Bachelorette (2012)
This isn’t the TV show! It’s actually a really rad movie based on a British play. It’s really hit-or-miss, depending on your audience; I love it, but so many of my friends hate it that I put it only at 5 out of 10 on the list. The cast is incredible: Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, Kirsten Dunst, and Rebel Wilson comprise a high school friend group (the self-proclaimed “B-Faces”) that reunites 10 years after graduation as bridesmaids in Wilson’s character’s wedding. The women are literally terrible to each other 99 percent of the time, and they’re so mean that you sometimes feel bad watching it. I know that this movie is special to me because it came into my life at just the right time, and who knows—the same might be true for you.
One of many questionable morals imparted
3. Waitress (2007)
If I remember correctly, my friend Julie watched this movie first when we were about 13, and told us it was really cute. It is cute, but it is also meaningful and heart-wrenching and way too adult for middle schoolers. The supportive friendship between the three waitresses (played by protagonist Keri Russell, Cheryl Hines, and writer/director of the film Adrienne Shelly, who tragically passed away in 2006) at a diner in the Deep South is wonderful. There is a really cute lullaby and Russell makes pies that express her feelings, but it’s paired with a darker plot of affairs and domestic violence, too.
2. The To-Do List (2013)
This movie became an instant teen girl classic when it premiered in summer 2013. High school valedictorian/classic good girl Brandy (Aubrey Plaza) transforms her boring-ass to-do list into one of sexual acts that she wants to accomplish before her college career begins. She has a ridiculous deadbeat boss (Bill Hader), awesome BFFs (Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele), and an incredibly dysfunctional family (Connie Britton, Clark Gregg, and her sister Rachel Bilson). The ‘90s fashion and innate sex-positive feminism (“Ladies, we must take charge of our own sexual gratification!”) are an added bonus.
Brandy’s frighteningly ambitious to-do list
1. Away We Go (2009)
This is my favorite movie in the whole world. I watched it the first time with my friend Jax, and we were super-confused, but we liked it enough that we showed it to everyone else. It is so lovely and kind and you take something new away from it every time you watch it. Burt (Jon Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) are pregnant with their first child and are traveling the country to try to figure out the best place to raise them. Accompanied by a serene score by Alexi Murdoch, they are consistently loving and calm in a sea of straight-up crazy friends and family members, including Chris Messina (!), Jeff Daniels (!!), Allison Janney (!!!), Jim Gaffigan (!!!!), and Maggie Gyllenhaal (!!!!!). 10/10 tearjerker.
What are your favorite sleepover standbys? Tell us below.
Images via Paramount Pictures, Focus Features, Gary Sanchez Productions, 1492 Pictures, Robert Wise Productions, Pandora Cinema, Fox Searchlight, CBS Films, Prominent Pictures, Michaels-Goldwyn, & Walt Disney Pictures
Video via Audiohead3000 & MsSquish95 on YouTube