I have an undeniable love for teen movies, I don’t care how many people tell me how shallow they are or how it provides no intellectual stimulation, it has catchy lines, hot people and adorable clothes, and many times an important lesson. This top 5, I list my favorites, the ones that I just can’t stop watching, that could cheer me up on the darkest of days and continues to steal my heart. There are many many more that I adore, and perhaps I will revisit this list again, but right now, these are the 5 that stand out astimeless classics:
1. 10 Things I Hate About You
When I was nine-years-old Kat Stratford was everything that I wanted to be – mature, smart, cultured, confident and with the ability to put anyone who dared to insult in their place. 10 Things I Hate About You puts a new spin of the Shakespeare play, The Taming of the Shrew. Years later when I read the play, I was going through my teenage angst faze and I hated how Katerina was portrayed – she was a headstrong woman, who was ordered into submission from psychological manipulations in order that her younger sister could marry. So so so much wrong with that (usually Will is my homeboy but for reals this play rubs me up the wrong way) and what I loved about 10 TIHAY (I just made up that anagram) was that it took a deeply offensive piece of classic literature and made it better. Who would have thought a teen version of a Shakespeare play could be better? Instead of being turned into a docile, obedient woman by her suitor, Patrick Verona (swoon), Kat instead learns to open herself again to love and social activities while still finding someone who likes her for who she is – bitchy, headstrong and intelligent – which is what young girls should aim for.
Reasons why I love this: It has the young version of my future husband number 1, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, excellent and compelling supporting cast, Mrs. Perkins writing smut when she’s supposed to be working, Kat flashing the teacher, Kat allowing herself to be vulnerable when reading her sonnet (which was definitely not in iambic pentameter), I now know that you can be ‘overwhelmed’ and ‘underwhelmed’ but you can never just be ‘whelmed’, the belly, and of course:
2. The Breakfast Club
It is almost cliche to put this one on the list, but let’s be real, you don’t get better than The Breakfast Club. For my 21st birthday my sister bought me the collection of John Hughes films and for Christmas that year she bought me a book analysing his films and I just fell even more in love with these absolute classics, which champions teens. Teens (like religions and many nationalities) are often misjudged because of negative stereotypes and The Breakfast Club depicts how poignant these years are – how they struggle with who they are, who they want to me, and the pressures that are put on them by society, their parents, teachers, friends. Adults often brush off the problems of teenagers as being insignificant, but TBC takes teenage angst out of the shadows and brings it into the light, shows them that what they going through is serious, and deserves to be spoken about .
Reasons why I love this: The clique trope has been so often but TBC does it in a refreshing way showing that instead of being sorted into boxes we are each divergents of various personality traits; and has all the fab Hughesian actors – Molly, Ally, Judd, Emilio and Anthony, it is timeless and almost thirty years later still relevant:
3. Easy A
Another adaption of a classic (Clueless definitely has to be on the next list) Easy A takes The Scarlet Letter and refreshes it, and makes it applicable to the younger generation. The problem with the classics is that outside of English Lit lecture halls, they are just accepted without finding a way to relate it to modern times and many of the time, the morals of the story could be. Easy A teaches about something that is so often accepted in modern times: slut shaming. Olive uses sex to her advantage, as her weapon, as a way to get noticed, she learns to use the offensive object without really doing it and becomes more confident and sure of herself because of it but she’s treated as an outcast without people knowing the true story. This movie shows why we shouldn’t be quick to judge others, especially teenagers finding themselves.
Reasons why I love this: Emma Stone – the perfect actress. Penn Badgely playing the love interest. Olive has the best parents in any movie, ever. The script of this film is so well-written with characters giving amazing one-liners. So many John Hughes references and of course a musical number:
4. She’s the Man
Yes, yes I obviously have a weakness for adaptations. This one, is another version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and while compared to The Taming of the Shrew I actually enjoyed Twelfth Night, She’s the Man is a modern day comedic spin on the famous play. Back when Amanda Bynes wasn’t crazy, when Channing Tatum wasn’t naked (cue the best kind of flashbacks – Magic Mike flashbacks) and they both still starred in high school movies. Amanda plays Viola who poses as her brother in order to play in an all-boys soccer team. She’s the Man takes gender stereotypes and throws it onto it’s head. So often in the film, people are told to ‘act like a girl’ or ‘be a man’ but it’s proven that neither of these terms can be taken lightly. Being a woman doesn’t mean that you have to wear pretty dresses and drink tea neither does being a man mean that you must be tough or treat women as objects, as Viola and Duke depict. There is a scene when the soccer coach at Viola’s former school also said that girls cannot play in the boys’ team because girls aren’t as athletic as boys, and Vinnie Jones’ character (can’t remember his name right now), the coach of the opposing team gives the line which defines the film for me, “here at Illyria we don’t judge based on gender.”
Reasons why I love this: The scenes are comedic without being silly, the supporting cast play their roles well, Channing Tatum, trying to guess who is who from Twelfth Night,Toby and Eunice are the best, Channing Tatum. Watch him here, to the music of Muse:
5. Mean Girls
Everybody in the English-speaking world knows Mean Girls, and if you don’t find a way to stick a MG quote into your conversations at least once a day, we cannot be friends, that’s a rule. There’s so much about this movie I love, namely that it was written by my favorite person ever, Tina Fey. The film talks to learning to embrace who you are instead of confining to a clique and living by the rules of others. It also confronts issues like how women abuse and hurt each other to make themselves look good, or out of jealousy but it is brought across it a way that makes you want to listen. Cady Heron moves to an American high school from Africa (slightly offensive stereotypes in this section) and is naively assimilated into the societal politics when she is recruited for the elite popular group and her art friends try and use her to get their revenge on the school’s tyrant, Regina George, but while in ‘The Plastics’ Cady loses track of herself as she becomes just as shallow and vindictive as Regina while trying to oust her. Cady eventually comes to her senses once everything goes sour and she loses all her friends and she helps to create a more inclusive social order at her school.
Reasons why I love this: Did I mention the excellent script? so many Mean Girl phrases have seeped into our vocab, lots of SNL alums are featured in it, supporting cast includes Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried, even the minor characters have hilarious lines. In my opinion, the mathletes are seriously the coolest people in this movie.
What’s your favorite teen movies?