Teen movies can make a big impact on young minds. Everything, from the life lessons it teaches to the film’s inspiring soundtrack, can change a teen’s life. Each year, filmmakers experiment with coming-of-age stories in hopes of creating something iconic. Although a lot of them missed the mark, there have been great teen movies that rose above the rest. Some good examples are The Edge of Seventeen and The Diary of a Teenage Girl, both of which gave a fresh and new insight into the genre.
Explore Talent is listing down the iconic teen movies that inspired these modern coming-of-age stories. Take a trip down memory lane below.
5 of The Best Teen Movies of All Time
1. The Breakfast Club (1985)
There won’t be a list of teen movies without mentioning John Hughes. As the king of teen flicks, his most famous feature is the untouchable film The Breakfast Club. The film basically has all the teen archetypes: the nerd, popular girl, jock, the loner, and the rebel. It is set in a single day, where all five main characters are forced to sit together on one crazy day in detention. Funny, engaging, and well-acted by its main cast, The Breakfast Club continues to be a classic teenage film that defined a generation.
2. American Graffiti (1973)
Before the Star Wars franchise, director George Lucas completed a teenage film that depicted his own adolescent years in Middle California. Though it was released in the early ’70s, American Graffiti focuses on a group of teens in early 1960s Modesto. The cast features a wide range of characters played by big stars including Harrison Ford, Ron Howard, and Richard Dreyfuss. The film would go on to be nominated for several Academy awards including a best director nomination for Lucas. It was also a financial success and was preserved by the National Film Registry back in 1995.
3. Heathers (1988)
On the surface, Heathers is your stereotypical teenage movie: a former outsider becomes popular and then she later realizes that popularity isn’t as glamorous as it seems. But the film takes the topic and injects more macabre themes such as murder and suicide. Winona Ryder delivers the best performance in her career in this film, and so does her co-star Christian Slater. Heathers is a black comedy that is not afraid to satirize most teen movies during the eighties, and it’s safe to say that it did succeed in doing so.
4. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Another John Hughes film that is making an appearance on this list is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off starring Matthew Broderick. Hughes has said that the film was his “love letter to Chicago,” and his commitment to creating the movie was so great that he wrote the screenplay in less than a week. The plot follows the titular character as he fakes illness to spend a day off from school. Other than Broderick’s heartfelt performance, what makes Ferris Bueller’s Day Off so iconic is that it was one of the first few films that actually had the main character breaking the fourth wall.
5. Mean Girls (2004)
Although Clueless set the trend for high-school girl gangs, it was Mean Girls that brought it back to the new generation. The project by Tina Fey and Mark Waters introduced audiences to iconic characters such as Regina George and the rest of The Plastics as well as Lindsay Lohan‘s exchange student turned prom queen character, Cady Heron. There are also countless one-liners in the film (“You go, Glen Coco!”) that helped make it the pop culture hit that it is today.