Teen movies are my second favorite movie genre behind horror – especially good ones. They’re fun, funny, and make me feel a little younger. In good teen movies, there’s no crazy puke scene, and it’s not overly dramatic. There’s always a guy, and the rewatch value never diminishes. For this post, I focused on teen movies with strong male/female leads, instead of girl teen movies. All of us teen movie fans know there’s a difference.
Here are my picks for the top three teen movies:
She’s All That – Freddy Prince Jr., Rachel Leigh Cook, 1999
Zack (Prince) makes a bet that he can make Laney (Cook) prom queen, and of course it all blows up in his face.
Why it’s special: She’s All That is funny and has a ton of people in it, including Paul Walker and Dule Hill. Its plot feels a little generic (popular guy has to transform social outcast), but Laney plays a strong cynical, mature-for-her age teen who just wants to be a part of something. It has all the traditional things: mean girls, a-hole guys, and Usher as a school DJ (you had Usher as a DJ too, right?). The movie has its gross parts, like a nasty pizza scene in the cafeteria, but it doesn’t go overboard or feel cheesy. Some also scenes pay tribute to the show The Real World, which helped launch the reality TV show genre.
The soundtrack: One of the reasons Kiss Me by Sixpence None The Richer became so popular, and there’s a cool freestyle beat-box scene that I can site verbatim.
Extra: One reason I love Psych so much is many She’s All That cast members did a Psych episode or served as a major character. They must love the movie as much as I do!
10 Things I Hate About You – Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, 1999
Also the same year, 10 Things is a ’90s version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Patrick (Ledger) gets paid to take Kat (Stiles) out, and it the “sh$% hiteth the fan”.
Why it’s special: This is tough for me because 10 Things is much better written and has some of the wittiest dialogue I’ve ever heard. The acting is better, the story is stronger, and there are a ton of people in it as well. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a big part, and Larisa Oleynik, who also did a Psych episode, plays a believable Bianca. What makes this movie is Patrick and Kat’s relationship; they have chemistry you seldom find in teen movies, and you assume they may be good friends in the “real” world.
The soundtrack: Opens with Joan Jett. Enough said.
Extra: If I were fairly reviewing this movie, this would be No. 1, but I had to judge it on how many times I’ve watched the movies as well. I’ve watched She’s All That several more times.
Can’t Hardly Wait – Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ethan Embry, 1998
Does it say something that all of these were in the late ’90s? This plot is about Preston (Embry) trying to win Amanda’s (Hewitt) affection one last time before everyone goes to college. There’s no money involved, and most of the movie occurs at a party.
Why it’s special: For a party movie, Can’t Hardly Wait is creative and feels a little more real. Instead of taking place at some ridiculously awesome school with a beachfront view (like the two others), its setting is a smaller town, and you never see the school. The acting isn’t awesome, but it’s good, and you believe Preston is desperate to tell her how he feels. Her girlfriends are typical teen girls (support you to your face, talk about you behind your back), and the movie includes all teen stereotypes, such as the dumb jock, geek squad, an angel stripper.
The soundtrack: The geek of the school performs Guns N’ Roses’ Paradise City. Any soundtrack with GnR automatically rocks.
Extra: Seth Green makes this movie. He’s a major/minor character and young, and if you’re a Green fan, you must see it.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, and if you haven’t seen these teen gems, you should!