Oh, adolescence! The age of angst, emotions, and growing pains. The story of the everyday teenager is a subject that many directors have tried to adapt into films in the hopes of creating the next big Breakfast Club or 16 Candles. With cult classics like Freaky Friday and Mean Girls, it's clear that everyone loves a good high-school drama. So, whether you want to laugh or cry, this list of movies has something for you!
Flipped is the story of two eighth graders growing up together in a small town and falling for each other. The trouble is that they're total opposites. It follows Juli (Madeline Carroll), who is madly in love with her neighbour, Bryce (Callan McAuliffe). She spends years pining for him, all while he thinks that she's too weird to be seen around with and tries to push her away. But just as Juli begins to lose feelings for Bryce, he considers that maybe he was wrong about her. Flipped is a time capsule of first love, offering a refreshingly wholesome story. It's authentically funny and easily digestible, which makes it a great movie for a cozy night in!
2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Based on the bestselling book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower follows the story of mild-mannered Charlie (Logan Lerman) as he juggles coping with his first year of high school, unexpected romance, and childhood trauma. With a talented supporting cast including Emma Watson, this is a story that will leave you reaching for the closest box of tissues. The message it shares about growing up is something you won't forget.
3. Eighth Grade
Kayla (Elsie Fisher) is finally at the finish line: the last week of middle school. Eighth Grade centers around her struggles as an adolescent in modern suburban America. Directed by beloved musical comedian Bo Burnham, this story tastefully tackles the fear of high school, the impacts of social media, and more. The best thing I got from this movie? Learning that it's okay to be young and a little dorky, as long as you're being yourself.
Thirteen centers around Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood), a girl with perfect grades who's on the honor roll. On the outside, she seems like a determined, studious young girl. At home, though, things aren't so easy— which is why she throws herself into her academics. When Tracy meets Evie (Nikki Reed), the school's "cool girl", Tracy is influenced by her new friend and begins a spree of self-destructive behaviour. Thirteen is a heavy movie, serving as a cautionary tale to young people about watching out for bad influences and saying no to peer pressure.
5. The Edge of Seventeen
This movie is about Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), a doom-and-gloom high schooler who's more than ready to graduate. Her life is turned upside down when her golden child older brother (Blake Jenner) starts dating her childhood best friend (Hailey Lu Richardson). Feeling isolated, she turns to her teacher (Woody Harrelson) and an unexpected friend (Hayden Szeto). The Edge of Seventeen is a definite feel-good movie; you just know the ending will leave you with a smile, and it does just that!
6. Jennifer's Body
Jennifer's Body is often regarded as a "satirical horror". It's not made to be really scary, because the message of the movie is actually not about being scary at all. Often regarded as a queer classic, the film is about a demon possessing high school cheerleader Jennifer (Megan Fox), as she begins going on a man-eating rampage. Her geeky friend, Needy (Amanda Seyfried), finds out about the carnage and tries to put an end to it. There's so much to pick apart from this movie that, honestly, I don't even know where to begin. Its vapid exterior truly conceals an excellent commentary on feminism and sapphic relationships. I'll let you see for yourself!
Juno is a romantic comedy and coming-of-age movie about the spunky character, Juno (Elliot Page), having an unexpected pregnancy in high school. She decides that she'll give birth to the baby, but she chooses a deadbeat rockstar and his wife to adopt the child. Unfortunately, this gets complicated when Mark (Michael Cera), the baby's father, begins to develop feelings for Juno. He expresses a desire to keep their child and end his own marriage with another woman. Juno isn't just a teenage dramedy— it's a story about a woman's right to choose, which is a topical discussion in light of recent news. I'd recommend it to anyone!
8. Lady Bird
Greta Gerwig's directorial genius is at work again in Lady Bird. The film is about a mother (Laurie Metcalf) working tirelessly as a nurse to make ends meet after her husband winds up unemployed. Through this, she tries to preserve her relationship with her teenage daughter (Saoirse Ronan). The two are similar in spirit: stubborn, witty, and compassionate, which they come to realize over the course of the film. Lady Bird isn't afraid to tackle the reality of many mother-daughter relationships: it's not always pretty, but often not for a lack of love. Its nuanced approach to family bonds is what makes it worth a watch. (And for all you fans of heartthrob Timothée Chalamet, he's in there too!)
Grab Your Popcorn!
With so many great options to choose from, it's hard to pick what to watch first! I enjoyed all these movies so much, and they definitely did help me better understand myself, or at the very least give me the pleasure of being able to look at a character on screen and go, "Hey, they're not so different from me!" The thing that makes a good teenage movie realistic is when it's not afraid to be messy, because that's what those years are!
So, while it may feel like your life is falling apart, just know that it does get easier eventually, and while you hold on for that to happen, you can kick back on the couch and catch some of these great teen flicks!