Teen Movies

Robin Raven
Harry Potter The Goblet of Fire

Teen movies do a stellar job of mirroring the gawky journeys of young people in the throes of puberty. Whether the source of their angst revolves around their changing bodies, clashes with their parents, self-discovery, ethical dilemmas, or the first fragile steps toward a romantic relationship, teenagers have always hovered awkwardly in a zone that expects them to be old enough to know better and yet not mature enough to handle adult responsibilities. These movies capture this awkward, exciting time across a number of different genres.

Coming of Age

The clash between family values and peer pressure has always made for good fodder in teen movies. These films illustrate this classic teenage struggle.

  • Splendor in the Grass
  • Gas Food Lodging
  • Mermaids
  • Crooklyn
  • If I Stay
  • Stand by Me
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Riding in Cars with Boys
  • American Graffiti
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
  • The Virgin Suicides
  • Almost Famous
  • Pleasantville
  • Bend It Like Beckham
  • Breaking Away
  • Boyhood
  • Little Women
  • Sixteen Candles
  • Boyz n the Hood
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • Now and Then
  • The Man in the Moon
  • Freaky Friday
  • The Spectacular Now
  • Girl, Interrupted
  • The Last Picture Show
  • Cider House Rules

Fantasy

Several fantasy movie series for teens have broken records at the box office. It's a perfect genre for young people because it enables them to enter worlds where teens are expected to rise to extreme challenges and be the heroes of their own lives. Here are some of the most memorable fantasy flicks:

The Harry Potter Films:

  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

The Hunger Games Movies:

  • The Hunger Games
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

The Twilight Series:

  • Twilight
  • The Twilight Saga: New Moon
  • The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
  • The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1
  • The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

The Divergent Movies:

  • Divergent
  • Insurgent

The Chronicles of Narnia Series:

  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Other Fantasy Films:

  • The Giver
  • The Craft
  • The Lovely Bones
  • Aquamarine
  • Peggy Sue Got Married
  • Back to the Future
  • Teen Witch
  • Weird Science
  • Beastly
  • Edward Scissorhands

Rebellions Wild and Mild

Rebellion is always a common theme for teenagers, both on film and in real life. Teens who take a walk on the wild side can be found in movies such as:

  • Grease
  • Harold and Maude
  • Across the Universe
  • The Lords of Flatbush
  • Cooley High
  • The Outsiders
  • Badlands
  • Dirty Dancing
  • Heavenly Creatures
  • Bad Boys
  • Listen to Me
  • Cry-Baby
  • Rebel Without a Cause
  • Mean Girls
  • Go
  • Cruel Intentions
  • Dazed and Confused
  • Donnie Darko
  • Heathers
  • Odd Girl Out
  • Deuces Wild

Comedy

It's said that the purest comedy comes from a place of pain, and adolescence is sure to be ripe with a heavy mix of drama and comedy. These movies take a walk on the lighter side of the teen experience, yet many of them also manage to show some of the serious challenges that teens face through the lens of comedy.

  • Napoleon Dynamite
  • Juno
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  • Encino Man
  • Gidget
  • But I'm a Cheerleader!
  • Summer School
  • Can't Hardly Wait
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
  • The Princess Diaries
  • The Brady Bunch Movie
  • Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead
  • Not Another Teen Movie
  • Ghost World
  • 17 Again
  • Pitch Perfect
  • 13 Going on 30
  • Bring It On
  • Saved!
  • Teen Wolf
  • American Beauty
  • She's All That
  • American Pie
  • Easy A
  • Clueless
  • She's The Man
  • The Parent Trap
  • Never Been Kissed
  • John Tucker Must Die
  • Zombieland

First Crush Teen Movies

You just never know where Cupid's arrow is going to strike next. When it comes to first love, a teenager's heart can be inconsolable when things don't quite turn out to be "happily ever after." The following teen movies illustrate that cosmic mystery of finding The One.

  • The Notebook
  • Liberty Heights
  • Endless Love
  • Ice Castles
  • Love & Basketball
  • The Blue Lagoon
  • Warm Bodies
  • The Fault in Our Stars
  • Save the Last Dance
  • Flash Dance
  • She's All That
  • Say Anything
  • The Way We Were
  • Valentine's Day
  • Here on Earth
  • A Summer Place
  • Before Sunrise
  • 10 Things I Hate About You
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • The Sure Thing

Animated/Anime

There's no shortage of animated films that teens can enjoy. Sophisticated story lines and talented artists bring to life complex animated films that are just right for a teen audience. Also, some of the delightful films of childhood will resonate with teenagers as much as they did in earlier times. Here are some of the most memorable teen animated movies:

  • Spirited Away
  • Howl's Moving Castle
  • Kiki's Delivery Service
  • Princess Mononoke
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • The Little Mermaid
  • The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • The Simpsons Movie
  • The Secret of Kells
  • Anastasia

Horror Flicks

A good scary movie has been a classic choice for date night for generations. Horror movies allow teens to get scared and feel an adrenaline rush in a safe environment, and the heroes and heroines of horror films have always been young people. These scary movies come with their share of teen troubles:

  • Carrie
  • Poltergeist
  • Scream
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Halloween
  • Urban Legend
  • Friday the 13th
  • I Know What You Did Last Summer
  • Let Me In
  • Let the Right One In
  • Disturbia
  • Final Destination
  • Fear

School Daze

School occupies a large part of a teen's life. Teachers, for better or worse, also have a major influence on where students go after graduation. These films tackle subjects that may not be taught in school, but certainly take place there.

  • Dead Poets Society
  • The Breakfast Club
  • Mona Lisa Smile
  • Freedom Writers
  • Raise Your Voice
  • Summer School
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Dangerous Minds
  • Mr. Holland's Opus
  • Music of the Heart
  • To Sir, With Love

Movie Talk

Once teens are driving or spending more time than ever with their friends, parents often lose the ability to screen or control many of the movies that their kids see. A good approach to take when teens may see films with tough issues or inappropriate content is to have a discussion about those things. Talk about how the fictitious world on the screen may be very different from the real world. Be open about where you stand and what is expected of your teen. Cinema can be a powerful art form that educates and illuminates, and discussing what is shown on screen can help teens think critically about the entertainment that they'll encounter throughout their lives.

Teen Movies