Teen Films

At least two people (Tony and Mitchell) seem interested in movies about teenagers (and for the purposes of this thread I define teenagers as kids from the 7th to 12th grades). Here’s a thread to talk about films with teenagers as the main characters. What are some of the best films with teenagers as principle characters? Here are some off the top of my head:

Raising Victor Vargas. I really liked this little known film about teenagers and the way the film portrayed the vulnerability of these young people as they explored their emerging sexuality.

Splendor in the Grass Perhaps not really realistic portrayals per se, but I think most teenagers will relate to the anguish of the characters–which is real.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Some of the filmmakers involved described the film as edgy, and that is an apt adjective. Even after twenty plus years, there is a gritty realism that stands the test of time.

Elephant and Paranoid Park. As for capturing the loneliness and alienation of teens, I can’t think of anyone else that has done this better than Gus van Sant. Btw, I never thought much of Rebel Without a Cause, which was supposedly one of the first films that dealt with teen alienation. Dean’s acting is too melodramatic. My guess is that modern teenagers might find Dean laughable in this.

There’s a bunch of films that involve teachers and students–Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, Dead Poet’s Society, Blackboard Jungle–and I don’t know if I should include those as many of them seem focused on the teacher as much as the teenagers. Also, the portrayal of the teenagers don’t seem very realistic. One film in this sub-genre that stands out is the recent Half-Nelson, which is definitely a different approach as teenagers-as-savior to inner city kids.

River’s Edge and Mean Creek were darker films that dealt with teen violence and secrets. For me, Crispin Glover in his over-the-top weird self kind of ruined the film for me. There are some interesting qualities of Mean Creek, particularly the bully character, but somehow the theme and the resolution didn’t seem to develop in any interesting ways.

Breakfast Club. Mitchell would be appalled that I didn’t mention this first. And yes, this is one of better films about teenagers. I think the film could have explored the characters more deeply and the criticism that these kids are mainly suburban whites, excluding teens in other situations, is understandable (although I don’t know if I agree). But the film deserves attention for raising the role of cliques and stereotypes in high schools, particularly the way individuals underneath the stereotypes feel and the contrast between the two. For an update, see the reality-film, American Teen.

Some other questions:

Are there are any really good teen horror films?
What would be the best teen film of African-Americans and other minorities? (Hoop Dreams is a good one. I also think of Boys N’ the Hood.

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