My Top 15 Teen Films

Most teen films are the sort of thing that you’ll watch over and over when you’re a teenager, but then once an adult you try watch it again and are horrified by how awful it actually was. But every so often a gem will be made that somehow remains fun to watch even in our old age. Here’s my list of the teen films that I loved as a kid, and still love now. Enjoy! 🙂

 

NUMBER 15

15 Just One of the Girls

Title: Just One of the Girls (also known as Anything for Love)
Starring: Corey Haim, Nicole Eggert, Cameron Bancroft, Johannah Newmarch, Gabe Khouth, Rachel Hayward, Lochlyn Munro, Kevin McNulty, and Wendy Van Riesen
Released in: 1993
Directed by: Michael Keusch
Written by: Raul Fernandez
Based On: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: To avoid bullies on his way to a new school, Chris dresses up as a girl. It works like a charm, until he’s caught in costume by one of his teachers and is forced to stay in disguise. Things get tricky when he meets the girl of his dreams, and the girl’s brother tries to get with him.
Why I Love It: It’s a by-the-numbers gender-swap film, but it’s still fun to see Corey Haim in drag. He does a good job of pretending to be a girl, and is actually passable, unlike so many others in the genre.

 

NUMBER 14

14 Just One of the Guys

Title: Just One of the Guys
Starring: Joyce Hyser, Clayton Rohner, Billy Jacoby, Toni Hudson, William Zabka, Leigh McCloskey, and Sherilyn Fenn
Released in: 1985
Directed by: Lisa Gottlieb
Written by: Dennis Feldman, Jeff Franklin
Based On: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: After having her article passed over for an internship for a boy’s, Terri decides to enroll in a new school as a boy to prove that her article was passed over just because she’s a girl.
Why I Love It: Another gender-swap, but this is one of the best ones I’ve seen, from teen or adult fare. Joyce Hyser is hilariously wonderful, and actually makes for a rather attractive boy. But I’ve always liked the girly-boys, so I might be biased, hehe.

 

NUMBER 13

13 Cry-Baby

Title: Cry-Baby
Starring: Johnny Depp, Amy Locane, Ricki Lake, Traci Lords, Susan Tyrrell, Polly Bergen, Iggy Pop, Kim McGuire, Darren E Burrows, Stephen Mailer, and Kim Webb
Released in: 1990
Directed by: John Waters
Written by: John Waters
Based On: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A bad-boy (or Drape) with a heart of gold falls for a good girl (or Square), and while the Drapes are very accepting of the girl, the Squares are determined to keep them apart.
Why I Love It: By all accounts, this should be an awful movie. But I don’t know, I absolutely love it. It’s silly with some pretty shifty acting, and is nothing close to real life, but I dunno, it all just works.

 

NUMBER 12

12 Save the Last Dance

Title: Save the Last Dance
Starring: Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas, Kerry Washington, Fredro Starr, Terry Kinney, Bianca Lawson, Vince Green, Garland Whitt, and Dorothy Martin
Released in: 2001
Directed by: Thomas Carter
Written by: Duane Adler, Cheryl Edwards
Based On: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: After her mother dies in an accident, a white teen moves to LA with her father. She attends a new school in a poor area of town where most of the students are black. There she meets a boy who rekindles her love of dance.
Why I Love It: I love dance movies, even ones where the lead character isn’t really that good at it (her final dance routine was less than impressive). And then pair the dancing with a schmoopy love story and some good dramatic scenes, and you’ve got yourself a winning formula for a successful teen film.

 

NUMBER 11

11 Juno

Title: Juno
Starring: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Allison Janney, JK Simmons, Olivia Thirlby, Daniel Clark, and Rainn Wilson
Released in: 2007
Directed by: Jason Reitman
Written by: Diablo Cody
Based On: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: After getting pregnant by her best friend, a quirky teen decides to go ahead and have the baby, finding a couple to adopt the child in a PennySaver magazine.
Why I Love It: It’s fun, quirky, and witty, and has a good message. Most of the actors are surprisingly good (except Jennifer Garner, who plays a plank of wood, as usual), and the writing is awesome, despite the fact that no one on the planet talks like they do (not before the film came out, anyways).

 

NUMBER 10

10 Get Real

Title: Get Real
Starring: Ben Silverstone, Brad Gorton, Charlotte Brittain, Stacy Hart, Kate McEnery, and Patrick Nielsen
Released in: 1998
Directed by: Simon Shore
Written by: Patrick Wilde
Based On: The play of the same name by Patrick Wilde
5 Second Synopsis: This tenderly romantic film tells the story of Steve, a young man in a British prep school, as he struggles with coming out and falling in love with the class jock, John. Who, amazingly, falls in love with him as well. But their relationship starts to feel the strain as John constantly hides his sexuality, and refuses to acknowledge Steve in public.
Why I Love It: Such a poignant love story, and one that all too many teens go through at least once in their lives, gay or straight. Unfortunately, sometimes love just isn’t enough. This is a wonderful little film, with good acting and writing. Definitely one to see if you enjoy the genre.

 

NUMBER 9

9 Can't Hardly Wait

Title: Can’t Hardly Wait
Starring: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ethan Embry, Seth Green, Charlie Korsmo, Lauren Ambrose, Peter Facinelli, Jaime Pressly, Jenna Elfman, Melissa Joan Hart, Breckin Meyer, and Jerry O’Connell
Released in: 1998
Directed by: Harry Elfont, Deborah Kaplan
Written by: Harry Elfont, Deborah Kaplan
Based On: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: After being in love with the school hottie for years, a shy student decides to finally tell her how he feels about her at their class’ graduation party. Of course, shenanigans ensue.
Why I Love It: It’s fun, silly, sort of pointless, but that’s all part of it’s appeal. The actors do a great job acting like teenagers (no small feat, since most of the actors in the film are in their 20’s or 30’s). Grab your popcorn and prepare to laugh, swoon, and just have a good time.

 

NUMBER 8

8 Cruel Intentions

Title: Cruel Intentions
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, Sean Patrick Thomas, Joshua Jackson, Christine Baranski, Eric Mabius, and Swoosie Kurtz
Released in: 1999
Directed by: Roger Kumble
Written by: Roger Kumble
Based On: Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos
5 Second Synopsis: Kathryn makes a bet that her step-brother, Sebastian, won’t be able to bed Annette (a virgin, who wants to wait until love). If he loses, Kathryn gets his Jaguar. If he wins, he gets Kathryn.
Why I Love It: Stronger writing and acting than most teen films of the time, and I guess it’s in part because of the fact that the source material was definitely not intended for kids. This is a definite gem of the 90’s.

 

NUMBER 7

7 Dazed and Confused

Title: Dazed and Confused
Starring: Jason London, Wiley Wiggins, Matthew McConaughey, Rory Cochrane, Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Shawn Andrews, Marissa Ribisi, Anthony Rapp, Adam Goldberg, Sasha Jenson, Milla Jovovich, and Jeremy Fox
Released in: 1993
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Written by: Richard Linklater
Based On: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: It’s the last day of school at a high school in a small town in Texas in 1976. The upperclassmen are hazing the incoming freshmen, and everyone is trying to get stoned, drunk, or laid, even the football players that signed a pledge not to.
Why I Love It: They say if you remember the 70’s you weren’t there. I may not remember them (since I wasn’t born yet), but I got a good idea of things were like with this fun, sometimes crazy, film. It’s also fun to see a bunch of big name actors getting their starts here, including Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, and Milla Jovovich. A total riot to watch, start to finish.

 

NUMBER 6

6 10 Things I Hate About You

Title: 10 Things I Hate About You
Starring: Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Larisa Oleynik, David Krumholtz, Andrew Keegan, Susan May Pratt, Gabrielle Union, Larry Miller, Daryl Mitchell, and Allison Janney
Released in: 1999
Directed by: Gil Junger
Written by: Karen McCullah, Kirsten Smith
Based On: The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare (loosely based :-p )
5 Second Synopsis: A popular teen can’t date until her tempermental older sister starts dating too, so her suitor decides to pay the school bad-boy to ask her out.
Why I Love It: Well written, well acted with lots and lots of eye candy, this is one of the very best teen films to come out of the 90’s. It was also my introduction to the hunky Heath Ledger, who’s career I followed after seeing him here.

 

NUMBER 5

5 The Goonies

Title: The Goonies
Starring: Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Corey Feldman, Jeff Cohen, Kerri Green, Martha Plimpton, Ke Huy Quan, John Matuszak, Robert Davi, Joe Pantoliano, and Anne Ramsey
Released in: 1985
Directed by: Richard Donner
Written by: Chris Columbus
Based On: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: After finding out that his family will loose their home to an unscrupulous developer who’s buying up the neighbourhood to tear everything down and build a golf course, a teen and his friends make a pact to find a hidden treasure of legend in a local cave.
Why I Love It: I might be skating along the lines of what’s a teen film and what’s a kid’s film here, but it’s so good that I decided to go ahead and put it in anyways. So much fun, a definite childhood classic. Everybody do the truffle shuffle!! hehe

 

NUMBER 4

4 Hackers

Title: Hackers
Starring: Jonny Lee Miller, Angelina Jolie, Jesse Bradford, Matthew Lillard, Renoly Santiago, Fisher Stevens, Laurence Mason, Lorraine Bracco, Marc Anthony, Wendell Pierce, and Alberta Watson
Released in: 1995
Directed by: Iain Softley
Written by: Rafael Moreu
Based On: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: A group of teen hackers find out about a plot to capsize an oil tanker if millions of dollars aren’t sent to a specific bank account, and with the police hot on their trails, they have to find the hacker behind the crime before they’re the ones blamed for it.
Why I Love It: It was one of the first films to really get me interested in computers. And even though I was very disappointed to find out real hacking is nothing like what is shown in this film, I’ve always had my own computer ever since then. Plus, with the caliber of actors that they were able to attract and a good director, that means that this is one of the best made teen films out there. So much fun, so much eye candy, and to top it all off, a totally bitchin soundtrack.

 

NUMBER 3

2 Pretty in Pink

Title: Pretty in Pink
Starring: Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, Andrew McCarthy, Annie Potts, James Spader, Andrew Dice Clay, and Harry Dean Stanton
Released in: 1986
Directed by: Howard Deutch
Written by: John Hughes
Based On: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: When a rich boy and poor girl start dating, friends on either side will do anything to make sure they separate.
Why I Love It: One of the all time classics, this little teen film is so romantic sometimes that it’ll make you choke, and so funny in other times that you’ll pee yourself (ie: any scenes with Duckie. Love him!) All the teen romance clichés are here, and that’s because this film (and others around the same time) ‘invented’ all of them. Its look is very very 80’s, a lot of the clothes is hideous (especially that god damned pink dress at the end… what the hell were they thinking??? But I digress…), but it does nothing to take the wonderfulness of the film away. Plus, young James Spader. Meow.

 

NUMBER 2

3 The Breakfast Club

Title: The Breakfast Club
Starring: Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, John Kapelos, and Paul Gleason
Released in: 1985
Directed by: John Hughes
Written by: John Hughes
Based On: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: Five very different teens are in an all detention in the school library. As the day goes by, they open up to each other and realize that they’re not as different as they thought.
Why I Love It: One of the quintessential teen films, this is one of the movies that started it all, with a group of actors affectionately known as The Brat Pack. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to explain why I love this one. It hits the high-school-life-nail right on its head. Amazing. And Judd Nelson as Bender? Holy hot!

 

And now for my number 1, well…. I’m going to cheat here, big time. There was no way that I was going to be able to choose one or the other as my very favourite, so I decided to make my number 1 a tie. And so, here’s my…

 

NUMBERS 1

1 Empire Records

Title: Empire Records
Starring: Rory Cochrane, Johnny Whitworth, Anthony LaPaglia, Robin Tunney, Renée Zellweger, Liv Tyler, Ethan Embry, Coyote Shivers, Brendan Sexton III, Maxwell Caulfield, and Debi Mazar
Released in: 1995
Directed by: Allan Moyle
Written by: Carol Heikkinen
Based On: N/A
5 Second Synopsis: The employees of an independent music store learn about each other as they try anything to stop the store from being absorbed by a large chain.
Why I Love It: I can’t even explain how much I love this film. I saw it when it first came out (I was 14), and I fell instantly in love with it, and have been ever since. Thankfully, it still holds up well today, and I give it a watch every once in a while, and it never fails to make me smile.

 

1 Clueless

Title: Clueless
Starring: Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd, Donald Faison, Elisa Donovan, Breckin Meyer, Jeremy Sisto, Justin Walker, Julie Brown, Twink Caplan, Wallace Shawn, and Dan Hedaya
Released in: 1995
Directed by: Amy Heckerling
Written by: Amy Heckerling
Based On: Emma by Jane Austen (loosely based :-p )
5 Second Synopsis: Popular, rich girls Cher and Dionne decide to take a new, frumpy student under their wing and give her a makeover, while their love lives run amok.
Why I Love It: I don’t think I need to explain how awesome this film is. It’s over the top and ridiculous in so many ways, but the actors are all perfect in their roles, and the film comes off as completely sweet and charming instead of grating and self-indulgent (the way I imagine teens in that world actually are ;-p ). They could not have picked a better actress for the main role of Cher, Alicia Silverstone is absolutely perfect.

 

And that’s my list!! What are your favourite teen films? Let me know in the comments, and stay tuned for more!! 😀

M.

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3 comments on “My Top 15 Teen Films

  1. Some great picks and some I have never seen. Empire Records, 10 Things I Hate About You, Breakfast Club and Clueless are my favourites.

  2. Amazing list. Can agree with almost everyone, though there’s a few I’ve yet to check out. 🙂 The Goonies is also a classic and I would probably add it to mine as well.

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