Top ten best teen films of all time

It is true what they say, youth is wasted on the young, the world is literally our oyster and every time we walk out of the door we’re instantly stuck with a barrage of endless possibilities. Yet only when we are passed it by can we really appreciate how both traumatic as well as magical adolescence can actually be. But if you can’t remember that, then the 10 films below will happily give you a visceral and poetic reminder of that flawed perfection known as being a teenager.

MVP – (Most Valuable Player) SOM (Stand out moment)

10. American Pie

While the rest of the films on the list most likely have a poignant comment to make on the point at the end of adolescence, when your suddenly shell-shocked by the painful realization of knowing that your childhood is coming to an end. They may also consist of profound friendships to last a life time or even just might be a nostalgic poem on the beautY of youth. While on the other hand the better or for worse, all American Pie and director Paul Weitz were concerned with was trying to cram in as much tits, penis jokes, mother jokes and cringe worthy scenes into a film much as they can. The outcome would go on to make for a historic laugh out loud, gross and hilarious moment in the cinematic legacy of teen films. As great as the other films are on the list, American Pie remains still the most quoted and referenced teen film in my generation. I’m sure not a day goes by in the world, when some man alone in his house doesn’t see a freshly baked apple pie and contemplate doing certain things to that apple pie that definitely don’t involve eating it.

MVP: This one was tough; on one hand I would love to give it to Jim’s dad Noah, whose parenting style is basically embarrassing your children so much, that they are always constantly looking around for holes to crawl into and die. But you can’t spell American Pie without the Stifler; he’s ignorant, obnoxious, narcissistic and perverted, but still every friendship group needs a Stifler, just to add a little spice to the mix as well as making everyone else around him look like the perfect gentleman.

SOM: for American Pie there has to be two. Are there any film scenes in the last 15 years that defines a generations sexual hang ups better than the ones were Jim unfortunately has his penis stuck in a apple pie just when his father walks in to the kitchen, only later to pre-ejaculate when he has the hottest girl in school naked in his room while the rest of the school watches on the internet.

9. Dazed and confused

You know when a film legend like Quentin Tarantino lists a film 10th best film of all time, that there has to be something really special about it! But don’t worry; it unequivocally lives up to all the hype. It’s the year 1976 and we find ourselves at the last day of the school year, meaning the end of mind numbing algebra, utterly useless gym class and the man continually telling what to do. Instead now it’s time to dump the texts books in the trash and lean back because the days of joyful beer guzzling, pot smoking and paddle hitting are truly upon us. But if your freshman you best watch out, because the senior class of consisting of Jason, Don, Benny and Melvin, only love one thing more than beer and girls and it’s the pleasure of hazing on the backsides fresh meat.

MVP: it has to be Matthew McConuaghey as Wooderson, purely for the fact that he went from a minor role as sleazy loser bordering on sex offender, who famously said “That’s what I love about these high school girls, I get older and they stay the same age” to becoming one of the biggest names in Hollywood with a super hot wife, killer abs and a Oscar to his name.

SOM: Staying pretty much consistent with the rest of Linklater’s filmography, Dazed and Confused lacks that signature defining and memorable scene, however instead Linklater compensate for this by making the whole film a stand out moment.

8. Almost famous

With its larger than life characters, great sound tracks and compelling story line; like a fish in the river, Cameron Crowe hooks you by the gills and reels you into a nostalgic memoir come poem for the greatest period in Rock and Roll history, through the perspective of a starry-eyed teen in awe at the presence of his godly heroes. Meet the ‘enemy’ he writers for Rolling Stones, but he isn’t your usual run of the mill jet setting, blood thirty, merciless journo type. On the contrary he looks so sweet he could make honey seem sour, his voice hasn’t dropped yet and he is completely hopeless with women.

While everyone dreams of being a rock star, destroying hotel rooms, standing in front of millions of adoring fans and being around more women than a sale at New Look, 15 year old William Miller isn’t quite a Rockstar but he still gets almost all the perks when touring with the fictitious 1970s rock band named Stillwater. Along the way with William, we experiences threesomes, first heart breaks, great music and finally fighting to gain independence from an over bearing mother.

MVP: Penny lane is a constant breath of fresh air anytime she swans onto screen, but as much as she likes to delude herself into thinking she is more mature that her years, perpetually in with the band and has lead singer Russell wrapped around her little thing, the truth is she is as clueless and naïve as the rest of the groupies constantly banging at Stillwater’s front door.

SOM: The point when William went from being clueless in regards to the opposite sex, to doing what most men always dream of doing and never quite achieve it like finding the Holy Grail; William just has two girls at the same time just practically, throwing themselves onto his lap. I need to write for Rolling Stones!

7. Boy n the hood

When you’re freshly out of film school at 24, you’re general raw, unpolished and rather inexperienced, but for John Singleton this fact turned out to be a great assist to Boy n the Hood. This fresh approach allowed the film to be gritty, fearless and uncompromising. While the rest of the teens of the other films on the list, will only have to worry about getting prom dates, battling against acne outbreaks or just trying to be accepted by the popular kids. The teens of Boyz n the Hood on the other hand, will certainly have rather less frivolous concerns and far more pressing issues to contend with, i.e. trying to survive in a concrete jungle where at anytime you could lose your life or the life someone who you hold dear to you. It was the year of 1991, when a little none film written by a black man, featuring an all black cast, and helmed by a black director, that finally broke up the white monopolized film industry, and to great acclaim opened their eyes to a whole new world they could imagine being apart off. His pioneering vision eventually resulted in John singleton earning himself a Best director and Best Original Screenplay nomination to his name; making him the first African American to do so and the youngest ever regardless of race to achieve such a feat.

MVP: Larry Fishburne as Jason “Furious” Styles, who throughout the film is a constant voice of reason, helping to be a guardian angel and a ominous moral compose to his son, when all alround him drugs, violence and crime threaten to take his soul.

SOM: The soul destroying moment when Tre cradles best friend Ricky’s corpse in his hands, as he mourns his friends death, after being caught up in a gang war. The scene provokes so many intense questions about what is the necessity of these pointless gang wars when there is nothing substantial to gain, when at the end of the day the people who get hurt are the ones who weren’t even involved in the first place.

6. Rebel without a cause

The film that sent a seismic wave all around the world, due to the high amounts of women dropping to the ground with a bad case of swooning; you wonder why women of the west are so obsessed with blonde hair and blue eyes, well just blame Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause and that damn James Dean! The title pretty much gets straight to the point and tells all you really need to know about Jim Stark (James Dean), which is a good thing because you will certainly never get a word out of him, he takes silent brooding to whole new level. Jim is new to town and instantly catches the attention of every girl and a few guys in a half mile radius, naturally as you would expect it pisses off a few people and he soon become public enemy number one, unfortunately sending every one into a down would spiral leading to knife fighting, speed racing and ultimately someone’s death.

MVP: undoubtedly the man who changed the filmic landscape forever, James Dean was a revelation in this film, delivering a fantastic performance that completely deserved all its acclaim and plaudits, making even more of a pity that he died so young, because where his career was heading, he would have continued to inspire and wow audiences for many more years and generations then he had the opportunity to in his brief time on this planet.

SOM: The first moment we saw him in that famed red jacket, blue jeans and white T-shirt that went on to cement his name forever as cinematic icon.

5. Juno

The story of an ex-stripper who goes on to win a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for her debut script, sounds in itself like the type of story just begging to be converted into a Oscar bait Hollywood film. Ex stripper and writer Diablo Cody personifies how some of the best story ideas can come from the most unlikely of places. I challenge anyone to sit and watch the whole of Juno and not either laugh hysterically or fall in love with Ellen Page’s portrayal of Juno; an adorable oddball teenager who finds herself pregnant by the hands of the hopelessly perpetually awkward Paulie (Michael Cera). Resulting in early in the film Juno trying to contend with the dilemma of; does she keep the baby, abort it or put it up for adoption. It is plain to see from the first minute that Juno tackles serious and prevalent issues with an unparalleled sharp wit and feisty flare throughout and like a Jamaican sprinting team, never drops that baton.

MVP: Ellen and Michael share that privilege anytime we have the blessings of having both actors on screen at the same time. They are the Romeo and Juliet of our time; that’s if Juliet was perpetually sarcastic pregnant teen and Romeo is always constantly wearing such tight yellow shorts that you start to count down the seconds until the inevitable embarrassing moment when a testicle casually drops out half way through a conversation.

SOM: The hilarious scene where prospective adoptive mother Vanessa Loring (Jennifer Garner) questions whether her parents would be wondering where she was, Juno calmly replies “Nah I’m already pregnant, so what other shenanigans could I get into”

4. Karate Kid

Just as James Dean for all female kind was the poster boy of the 50’s with his whole rebel disillusioned with the adult world and what it has to offer, type of aura. Then you had Marlon Brando the epitome of a bad boy, alpha male which he exuded greatly from the late 50s to the early 70’s driving women wild. But when you talk about the 80’s only one name on every girls lips and that was Ralph Macchio as the unlikely hero Daniel Larusso; he wasn’t the sexy silent type, or the leather glad bad boy, but women loved him because he was completely different to anything they seen before, he was scrawny, weak and had bad dress sense, but he had a charming smile, a heart the size of elephant and the insatiable drive to keep it pumping.

Wax on or wax off, ether way I can’t stop waxing lyrical over this film, a truly classic underdog story about a skinny new kid arrives in a big city in the shape of California. However instantly due to his size he is seen as easy prey by the school bullies, and see it as an idle opportunity to make his life a living hell. But in retaliation instead of turning to guns and violence, under the guidance of a Japanese Rambo, masquerading himself as an old age pensioner called Mr Miyagi, he teaches Daniel to overcome the bullies using his mind rather than his fists.

In a decade dominated by muscle pumped actions heroes in the shape of The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), for me the most badass dude of the decade will always be the Karate Kid!

MVP: Wax on. Wax off, enough said!

SOM: Literally on his last legs, Daniel puts to practice all he learned from those hard, grueling days at the beach which seemed pointless at the time, now finally coming to fruition as he delivers a killer front kick to win the karate tournament against his worst enemy.

3. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

John Hughes wacky, zany, outlandish masterpiece personifies exactly what every teen, and secretly every adult would love to be; and that it being Ferries Bueller as he lives out the greatest day in human history. Imagine a day where you skip school, and still managing to outsmart your head teacher, not just once but multiple times all on the same day. Where you can also drive a Ferrari, do an epic rendition of the best Beatles song ever in twist and shout whilst stood upon a giant parade float. Whilst most importantly topping it all off you’re doing all that with your best friend and high school sweet heart – can life get any better? But it’s not just all madcap fun, there is a real moral message at the heart of the film, which is why grow up when you can stay young forever!

MVP: absolutely no contest, this race was as close run as Usain bolt racing against a 12 year old girl on crutches; there is a reason why the film is named after him, because if you are what you eat, then Ferris Bueller must have eaten an absolute legend! Every guy wants to be him and every girl also wants to be him.

SOM: without a shadow of a doubt, the moment when the world seems to be in slow motions, as Cameron watches his dad’s most beloved possession in the form of his Ferrari, crashing through the glass wall of his father gauge and plummets to its death in the ravine below.

2. American Graffiti

American Graffiti is George Lucas’s perfect nostalgic film gem, which is undoubtedly his second best directing exploit after the first Star Warz film. AG interweaves seamlessly and effortlessly between the four simultaneous stories of four young teens trying to enjoy their last night of their childhoods in different ways; Terry spend its trying to get laid, Curt Henderson endeavors to meet the beautiful women in the white dress, John Milner tries to spend the night getting rid of a annoying 13 year old girl, while Steve Bolander tries to reconcile with his high school sweetheart. Although they are all different, each in its own rights becomes eventful, full of outrages twists turns that leave your head spinning.

MVP: The adorable live wire that was the annoying teenybopper Carol, who plays the role with such verve, that makes our hearts warm up to her as much as John Milner’s did, even though he constantly tried to hide it under his cool boy racer facade

SOM: The hilarious scene as the socially inept Terry tires adamantly to find a way to get some Old Harper (alcohol) in hopes of impressing the flirtatious, beauty Debbie. After failing to get it in the shop faux nonchalant, then bottling it when it comes to asking a stranger on the street, third time is the charm when salvation comes when an unassuming gentleman offers to do it for him as he casually strolls into the store. Only for the guy to come running out, tossing the bottle of old Harper to Terry, as he continues to leg it whilst trying to evade guns shot sailing past his head from the shop clerk he just robbed.

1. Breakfast club

Serving detention on a Saturday morning is a teens absolute worst nightmare, but then also having to do it with your natural born enemies, makes medieval torture seem rather tame. But only when their worlds collide could they find out they have a lot more common then they originally might have thought; whilst also finding out that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

It should come as no surprise to find out that the king of teen films, had to be helmed by John “the king of the 80’s Hughes”, who with the most seminal of all teen and coming of age films ever in the Breakfast club, single handedly brought a fresh teen view and perspective to the adult masses. The American high school experience is generally always coupled with the notion of clicks, your cheerleaders, nerds, geeks etc. but when you see Breakfast club with its jock, popular girl, rebel, geek and the weird girl, it is plain to see where the archetypes and labels come from. It wasn’t just the outstanding pioneering accomplishments Hughes brought to BC, but it was the uncompromising honesty and heart he brought to the film as well, which is its true selling point.

Throughout BC 97 minute run, it never once degrades itself into the realm of pandering to cheap stereotypes and gags just to raise a few laughs and fill screen minutes, instead it chooses to explore the painful truth of adolescence; the never being able fitting in, never seeming to be good enough or never being able to comply with your parents ideals and their suffocating high expectations no matter how hard you try. Being a teenager can at times be about struggling to find ‘self’ when you don’t know what ‘self’ is and being crushed by the weight of endless possibilities. Whilst at the other end of the spectrum it can be about having the world at your feet inviting you desperately to explore it in its entire splendor, as well allowing you to become the very definition of care free. So it was this fine exploration of the paradoxes and delicate balance of adolescence that Breakfast Club was so effectively able delve into, leaving a profound after effect on not only me, not even a whole generation, but on cinema itself.

MVP – trying to choose a favorite amongst the five main characters, is like trying to choose your favorite child, because each of them has found an equal place in my heart.

SOM – the heart wrenching closing scene when despite everyone objections, popular girl Claire bursts everyone bubble by telling the painful truth, that no matter how strong they thought they bonded with each other, the fact remained that because they are all from different clicks at school, come Monday they would go back to being merely passing strangers in the school halls again and just to save face in front of each of their friends.


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