Teen movies. They can be full of raucous fun, emotionally dramatic, or a bit of both. While the 1970s and 1980s are perhaps a golden age of high school hijinks, the fun and drama continues since that era. What are the great ones that people should see? Here’s a list of WorldFilmGeek’s Top 10 Teen Movies.
DISCLAIMER: These films are solely based on the opinion of WorldFilmGeek.
10) The Kissing Booth (Vince Marcello, 2018)
Based on the novel by Beth Reekles, this story of two best friends whose bond is threatened when Elle ends up dating Lee’s brother Noah, a notorious playboy type. The film’s meshing of comedy and drama is fueled by the trio of Joey King, Joel Courtney, and Jacob Elordi. The film was such a hit that two sequels were released in 2020 and 2021.
9) 18 to Party (Jeff Roda, 2020)
WorldFilmGeek’s #1 Film of 2020 is as described, the love child of John Hughes and Richard Linklater. The story of a group of 8th graders who are forced to wait outside a club until the older kids are let in. The film has a group of newcomer actors whose chemistry is very natural and is quite eclectic in terms of their characters. This is a stellar film that has to be seen.
8) Die Pro (Andre Velts, 2015)
This Afrikaans-language film, based on a novel by Leon de Villiers, is both an exhilarating sports film and emotionally dramatic film about a high school senior who comes to grips with the death of his friend. His love of surfing slowly gets revitalized when he helps his late friend’s sister enter a competition for a summer surfing tour. Edwin van der Walt and Reine Swart churn out some excellent performances in the dramatic portion while Bennie Fourie provides much of the comic relief.
7) Varsity Blues (Brian Robbins, 1999)
Before he became the President of children’s network Nickelodeon, Brian Robbins was both a former actor (Head of the Class) and film director. This film is one of his best, revolving around a town obsessed with their high school football team. The story of Jon Moxon, played by James Van Der Beek, a second-string quarterback who has grown tired of the politics of high school football, plans to overcome the odds by defying his father and his coach, no matter what it takes. Excellent performances from Jon Voight as the coach, the late Paul Walker as Mox’s buddy and star quarterback, and the late Ron Lester as Billy Bob (a role he would spoof in Not Another Teen Movie) help drive the film.
6) She’s All That (Robert Iscove, 1999)
The modern day My Fair Lady if you will, about a pretentious high school football star who after getting dumped by his popular girlfriend, makes a bet that he can turn the most unattractive student into prom queen material. Freddie Prinze Jr. is great as the football star, but it is Rachael Leigh Cook who breaks out into bonafide superstar as the nerdy Lanie Boggs. The film would get a gender-reversal remake in 2021 with TikToker Addison Rae and Cobra Kai’s Tanner Buchanan in the lead roles, in which Cook returns as Rae’s mother.
5) Porky’s (Bob Clark, 1981)
This 1950s-set high school classic was the start of a successful trilogy about a group of friends in Florida. When members of the high school basketball team decide to go to the redneck area of Seward County to go to the titular brothel, they get embarrassed and humiliated. When one of the boys constantly goes back and gets beaten worse and worse, the boys and the victim’s brother, a police officer, plan to get revenge. Along the way, the boys play pranks on each other as well as the school’s gym teacher Balbricker, an iconic role for the late Nancy Parsons. The hole in the shower bit is the most well-known prank of the film and leads to a hilarious conversation between Balbricker and the principal.
4) Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (John Hughes, 1986)
The quintessential “play hooky” film, in which a fourth-wall breaking Matthew Broderick plays sick as the titular character and decides to go for a day in the city of Chicago. He takes along his neurotic best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) and girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) on his journey through the Windy City. In the meantime, the dean of students decides to prove Ferris is not sick but puts himself in the worst situations, including a triple-edited kick from Ferris’ own sister, who also wants to bust him. The film proved so popular that Deadpool spoofed the post-credit scene and there’s a band named after Rooney, the dean of students.
3) Weird Science (John Hughes, 1985)
This hilarious John Hughes classic takes a bit of a sci-fi edge. The story of the bullied and mistreated Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan-Mitchell Smith), who decide to do something crazy and create a woman from a doll. Hacking into the government computers and hooking up jumper cables to a doll, they are surprised that the doll comes to life in the form of Kelly LeBrock, who helps the boys gain the confidence they need against all bullies and even find love in the process.
2) Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, 1993)
Set on the last day of high school in Austin, Texas in 1976, this great film has a stellar ensemble cast and revolves around a party being busted, a quarterback forced to sign a paper against his morals, and many more hijinks. Future Hollywood stars Matthew McConaughey, Renee Zellweger (in a blink and you’ll miss it scene), Ben Affleck, and Cole Hauser are among the cast members as we see a lot of driving, drinking, and smoking.
1) The Breakfast Club (John Hughes, 1985)
The quintessential teen movie about five different people spending Saturday morning detention in Sherman High School is the perfect example of a teen movie and even brings in a sense of realism thanks to the amazing cast. Emilio Estevez is the jock. Anthony Michael Hall is the geek. Ally Sheedy is the weirdo. Molly Ringwald is the princess. Finally, Judd Nelson is the rebel. Somehow, these five must spend all day together and soon form a bond they never imagined forming.
And that’s WorldFilmGeek’s Top 10 Teen Movies. This is a genre that continues to strive whether it is an emotional drama, a sports film, or a wild fun movie. These are my top ten recommendations. What’s yours? Comment on this post if you want.