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Smells Like Teen Spirit

Posted in FILM by Laura H on May 10, 2010

We all have guilty pleasures when it comes to film, and mine is probably teen flicks. I am very aware that 95% (?) of all teenage orientated movies that are released every year are pure and utter rubbish, but every once in a while, there’s a gem. A film that’s actually funny, that doesn’t treat you like an idiot, that doesn’t take itself too seriously. And then, those movies are ACE.

Most people think that the only good teen flicks were made in the ’80s, but I completely disagree with that. Yes, some pretty awesome films were shot in the decade we were born, but ever since there’s been quite a few classics. Here’s my Top 15 which I hope will prove this!


Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did *was* wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…

The Breakfast Club is the mother of all teen flicks and was obviously directed by the genre’s father: John Hughes. Five kids have to spend a very boring Saturday grounded at school, where they realise that, despite their looks (the cute girl, the nerdy boy, the bad guy, the weirdo, the sports boy), they all share the same worries.  The movie has killer outfits, killer dialogues, a killer dancing scene and, of course, Simple Mind’s Don’t You Forget About Me. What else could you ask for?


Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is probably the most popular 80s teenage film and a proper CLASSIC. Ferris Bueller is the kid we all wanted to be but never really were (because we were more like Cameron, at least I was). He’s cheeky and he always gets what he wants… Which of course means that he has more fun in one day than we’ll all have in the whole of our lives.


This is an incredibly romantic moment, and you’re ruining it for me!

Pretty In Pink is my favourite 80s teen flick, probably because it has Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy in it. She’s the coolest teen actress EVER (did I ever tell you she was one of the ‘reasons’ I started dying my hair red?). He’s the cutest boy EVER. The film also features some totally amazing outfits (did I ever tell you that for some time in my life I only wore pink?), yet another epic dancing/karaoke scene and is also named after a great Psychedelic Furs song.


It’s one thing to want someone out of your life, but it’s another thing to serve them a wake-up cup full of liquid drainer.

Heathers is a dark twist to all the 80s teenage films, as the whole movie  is a bit of a ‘high school serial killer’ thing… But hey, that’s ok when the killers are Christian Slater (ok, I confess, I fancied him when I was a kid) and Winona Ryder (ok, I confess, I think she’s totally cool). The film also stars Shanon Doherty (pre-Beverly Hills 90210) and some of the most amazing perms and blazers you’ll ever see.


Searching for a boy in high school is as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie.

Turns out the Nineties were AWESOME when it came to teen flicks, Clueless being the first of many amazing films. Based on Jane Austen’s Emma, Clueless features the one and only Alicia Silverstone (of many Aerosmith videos fame), the unfortunately gone Brittay Murphy and Paul Rudd (who’s a bit of a cult actor when it comes to American comedies).  The movie is full of  HILARIOUS moments and some pretty wicked outfits (yes, I am aware that I talk about the clothes of every single movie that I mention in here… but come on, look at the pictures!).


I saved Latin. What did you ever do?

Rushmore is the first -but not last- indie title of this list. It was directed by Wes Anderson and features Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray (of course). The film is pure Anderson, from its (beautiful) looks and soundtrack to the bittersweet dialogues and dysfunctional-friendly tone. It’s the first Anderson I saw and it already made me fall in love with him. One day I’ll marry Wes.


I killed Liz. I killed the teen dream. Deal with it.

Jawbreaker is, like Heathers, a darker read of the teen flick. Two of the most popular girls at high school kill the third one by mistake (yes, you guessed right, they kill her with a candy) and since the nerdy one finds out, they decide to have some makeover action so that she doesn’t tell. The film is hilarious in a very dark way and has awesome cameos from Marilyn Manson and The Donnas (they’re the prom band, ain’t that cool). Oh, and the opening credits music is Veruca Salt’s Volcano Girls (that’s a Girls Girls Girls staple you know).


Everybody loves me, and I intend to keep it that way.

Cruel Intentions is a teen re-run of the very morbid Dangerous Liaisons (which at the same time was kind of a remake of Les Liasons Dangereuses, based on the book by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos). Two step-brothers get a little too excited over some betting action and things, of course, go bad. The film cast some of the most famous young faces at the time in Hollywood: Sarah Michelle Gellar (who will always be Buffy), Reese Witerspoon (who’ll be mentioned again below), Ryan Philippe (whom I never thought was hot and who actually married Witherspoon), Joshua Jackson (who will always be Pacey from Dawson’s Creek) and Selma Blair (who has a very strange filmography).


I’m not Josie Grossie anymore!

I wasn’t very sure about including Never Been Kissed in this Top 15 as it might be considered more a rom-com than a teen flick, but in the end I decided to do so because it has some of the best 80s high school Flashbacks ever and well, because most of its characters are teens. Oh, and it stars Drew Barrymore who’s one of my heroes and any excuse to mention her is good.


You don’t buy black lingerie unless you want someone to see it.

10 Things I Hate About You is the film that made Heath Ledger popular. The movie was based on Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew and also starred Julia Stiles (who didn’t become popular) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who’s actually turned into one of the most interesting young actors nowadays.

BRING IT ON (2000)

Courtney, this is not a democracy, it’s a cheerocracy. I’m sorry, but I’m overruling you.

Bring It On is so ridiculous that it’s genious. So genious that the only thing I can say about it is Spirit Fingers.


Oh, I like your outfit too, except when I dress up as a frigid bitch, I try not to look so constipated.

Legally Blonde is amazing. There’s even a musical based on it (a musical that maybe I wouldn’t mind seeing…). The movie tells the story of Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon), a silly pretty  girl who decides to follow her boyfriend to Harvard’s Law School, where she realises that there might be more to life than being cute (‘more to life’, lucky her, includes Luke Wilson). The film is full of memorable moments, memorable outfits (yet again) and, of course, some bending and snapping!


I’m sorry that people are so jealous of me… but I can’t help it that I’m so popular.

Mean Girls is the film that made Lindsay Lohan cool. Kind of. Once again it’s a makeover story about a new girl in high school (Lohan, of course), that becomes the popular girls’ little project… only to get more popular (and therefore bitchier) than them. The movie was based on the self-help book Queen Bees and Wannabes and written by Tina Fey, who also plays the ‘cool teacher’. So yeah, Mean Girls is actually REALLY funny.

BRICK (2005)

Look, I did what she said with the brick. I didn’t know it was bad, but The Pin’s on it now for poor Frisco, and they’re playing it all on me.

Brick is the second indie title of this list. It was made with no money and written, directed, edited and blah blah blah by the very young Rian Johnson (who then did The Brothers Bloom which was booorrrrriiiing). The movie was categorised as neo-noir as it tells a classic noir story… that takes place between lessons. It’s really well written (in fact, it has its own strange and mysterious language) and very well acted too (Joseph Gordon-Levitt is really great here).  I remember that when I interviewed Edward Norton aaages ago he told me it was the most interesting thing he’d seen lately, and he was right!

WHIP IT (2009)

I can grow the balls…

A few lines above I mentioned that Drew Barrymore is one of my heros. Last year she directed one of the awesomest movies I’ve seen lately: Whip It, a film that for some reason was not as popular as I think it should have been. I’m totally sure that in a few years this will be a cult title. The movie tells the story of teenager Bliss (played by the trendy Ellen Page), who finds out that roller-skating is the best thing ever and secretly joins a roller derby team (while her mum signs her up for Beauty Pageants). The coolest thing about Whip It is not its lack of pretentions or the geeky musical winks but the fact that here, girls kick ass (check Juliette Lewis’ Iron Maven character, that’s pure and evil rock’n’roll).

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  1. Daniel said, on May 10, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Looove it!

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