Seattle Cinema Survey : Teenager Films

Hello all and thanks for joining us for another Seattle Cinema Survey.

In this week’s edition, we look to the years of youth, though not innately our own. With The Edge of Seventeen hitting theatres and garnering quite a few raves from critics, I posed to our collective of film fanatics; what’s your favorite film about life as a teenager.

Easily my favorite film that centers on teenagers is Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused; a piece of perfection that echoes the highs of having a summer of nothing to do, as well as the quiet that comes amidst the chaos. However, I must say that Stephen Chbosky’s adaptation of his own book The Perks of Being a Wallflower speaks to more of the theatrics of those years where finding yourself is a daily war. A work with flaws, Perks gets the little things right, from the random faces you see at every party that mean nothing to you, to the joy of finding the song for that moment and, of course, discovering comfort in your fellow freaks.

Brent McKnight of Cinema Blend/The Last Thing I See @ BrentMMcKnight
I thought this was going to be super easy, until I started thinking about it and that hope evaporated quickly. Like many folks my age, I grew up on bittersweet John Hughes high school comedies like Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the rest. Then came the likes of Say Anything, which is still my favorite Cameron Crowe movie. To this day I lament my high school experience didn’t have more musical numbers like Grease. Kings of Summer is a great modern teen story, and I adore Pitch Perfect more than is probably appropriate for a dude pushing 40. Clueless and 10 Things I Hate About You are my favorites from the ‘90s revival wave that picked up the Hughes mantel (I also have a deep love for Stick It—they don’t call it gym-nice-tics).

It’s hard to argue against movies like Rebel Without a Cause, Boyz n the Hood, The Last Picture Show or The Outsiders. Y Tu Mama Tambien, The Craft, Pump Up the Volume and Dazed and Confused, are all in the running. I didn’t think of Hoop Dreams immediately because it’s a documentary, but it’s one of the most compelling stories of teenage life I’ve ever encountered.

Now I’m just listing movies I’ve seen, but I think I’ve got it down to two finalists. Rick Rosenthal’s 1983 Bad Boys—not that Bad Boys—about gritty Chicago street kids in prison, starring a young Sean Penn, transcends its exploitation trappings to tell a powerful, unusual story. But maybe I’ll go with the most obvious choice, George Lucas’ American Graffiti. I’m a sucker for a good one-night-changes-everything narrative. And Toad has my favorite ‘60s hair style—short on top, long and slicked back on the sides, which just looks silly when it gets disheveled.

Jason Roestel of Harsh Realm @filmbastard
This one was easy. Dazed And Confused. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off would come in second, followed by nearly every other film John Hughes made in the 80’s, but Linklater’s Dazed And Confused captures the single best aspect of being a teenager – hanging out.

Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber @Filmjabber
I’m inclined to say The Breakfast Club for the obvious reasons, but in all honesty it’s been so long since I’ve seen it I don’t remember much of the details. So I’m going to say a more modern one; Mean Girls. The movie breaks down cliques in an exaggerated but highly entertaining manner and is easily one of the funniest teen films out there. The best to capture teen life? Probably not. But it’s the first that came to mind.

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