Think back to when you were a teenager. If you are currently a teenager then just think of right now. When was the last time you saw a film that really reflected what it’s really like to be a teenager going to high school? Can’t come up with anything? I KNOW!
The 80’s were a great time for teen film. The Breakfast Club! FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF!
Basically every John Hughes movie not only entertained, but also gave teens quality films that they can actually relate to and see themselves in. Every teenager, girl or boy, can relate to wanting their crush to notice them. Every teenager can understand feeling misunderstood. And absolutely every teen, and even working adults, have had those days when they just didn’t want to go to school. Hughes’ films inspired a generation and more, and many other films did the same.
In the 90’s and 2000’s, teen cinema was just as good as it was in the 80’s. It was definitely different but just as great and relatable. There were movies like Clueless, Bring it on, and Mean Girls that played into the superficial side of teen life but also showed how teens can get best their sometimes shallow tendencies. Mean Girls is such a teen classic that I only know one person my age who HASN’T seen it! I know, I can’t believe there’s actually someone who doesn’t recognize the legendary quote that we have all heard at least 10 times a school year: “She doesn’t even go here!” (Thanks, Tina Fey) Mean Girls continues to be a movie that everyone loves but still understands how ridiculous our attempts to be popular can seem so. . . plastic. (Sorry, I had to do that.)
And then the world was forever blessed by Ellen Page’s big Hollywood debut in 2007. The amazing actress made her big break in the critically acclaimed teen movie, Juno. Since it is about a teenage girl going through life as she finds out that she is pregnant, many teenagers at the time could relate to their worlds being turned upside down. Page brings such wit and personality to the character that it so easy for any high school student to relate to and admire her, pregnant or not. Did I mention that Page received an Oscar nomination for her authentic portrayal of Juno?
Two years later, Ellen Page stars in another great teen movie called Whip It. Whip It is about a teenage girl, tired of her boring hometown in Texas and wanting adventure in life, joins a women’s roller derby team in Austin. I repeat, ROLLER DERBY! Rough, sweaty, and cool as hell! The movie, directed by Drew Barrymore, spoke to many teenagers who can’t wait to get out of their small towns and do something fun and exciting! So many people, not just teens, can understand the desire to do something bigger and better with their lives, and Whip It, like so many other films, showed this.
But somewhere around 2010 there was a shift in teen cinema. Teen films just weren’t. . . good. They lacked purpose and heart. Movies like Twilight were what people considered the future of movies for young adults. Yes, Twilight was a fun movie to go see with my friends and I liked the books, but it in no way reflected what it was like to be a teenager. The adults writing the films probably didn’t even remember what it was like being a teen. And it showed.
There wasn’t too much hope for teen film until the adaption of the best-selling novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, was released in 2012. It not only reflected what it was actually like being an awkward kid in high school but also the amazing friendships that are formed. Things looked even better when The Spectacular Now came out in 2013. It follows a semi-alcoholic senior in high school who has no plan for his future (he hasn’t even filled out his college apps!) until he meets a girl who has dreams and goals for herself. Unlike many movies before it, Spectacular Now showed how teenagers actually see the future: SCARY, NERVE-RACKING but also sorta exciting.
And that’s what we need more of! For teen films to really succeed and leave a lasting influence like that they did in the 80s, they need to show what it’s really like to be a teenager navigating life in high school and preparing for the future.
Through my eyes,