3 Favorite Teen Movies

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
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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
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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
Photo from: news.moviefone.com

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!

Troop Beverly Hills: A Fabulous Flashback

Troop Beverly Hills
Photo by: drafthouse.com

Troop Beverly Hills is one of the most underrated girl power movies ever. The movie premiered in 1989, a year on the cusp of the ’90s before the Gulf War began when Hollywood was everything. It wasn’t just about the fabulous life of Beverly Hills residents, it’s a coming-of-age story about a group of girls, their troop leader, and the ultimate teen girl power movie predecessor to movies like Clueless and Mean Girls, both of which have similar themes.

I was 7 years old when this movie came out, and I have watched it dozens of times. As a little girl, it was one of my favorite movies because it gave me hope. I may not be rich or a wilderness girl, but I know – and did then – how to adapt and survive.

Reviewers and critics are often hard on this movie, but it’s worth a watch if you love three things: a good story, comedy, and a happy ending.

Here are my favorite things about Troop Beverly Hills:

Shelley Long – I’ve probably never seen another movie she’s been in, but I knew her from Cheers, so I recognized her at a young age. She’s over-the-top, super girly, and a little whiny. But she is a fantastic mother. As a mom, it’s hard not to respect a woman who never gives up and does everything she can to care for her daughter and troop. Long plays a loving and unconditionally accepting woman who goes above and beyond, no matter what obstacles she faces. She’s a great role model.

Unity – The movie brings together a diverse group of girls – both in the background and ethnicity – and shows how anything is possible when you work as a team. Sometimes we women struggle with female relationships because many times women are overly competitive, sneaky, and too cutthroat. Several “girl” movies deal with girl-on-girl crime, but Troop Beverly Hills shows that no matter what problems you have or how different you are, when woman (or people) come together, great things happen. It adds the team factor.

Relatability – Underlying themes include the struggles of divorce, neglectful parents, coming-of-age, money, power, politics, and fashion. It’s a great mother-daughter movie, although I bet there are some great dads out there who would enjoy it as well. When the movie came out, my parents were on the verge of divorce, so I related with Phyllis (Long) and her daughter Hannah (Jenny Lewis) the most. I could understand how the mom and child felt, and even today I bet there are thousands of kids who could do the same. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or what life you’ve lived, the theme of wanting a fulfilling life, sense of accomplishment, and love are something most of us always want.

Fun and Innocence – Sure there’s profanity, but it’s not overly done and used in the most passionate times. It’s a wholesome story that addresses serious issues in a fun, innovative way. Some of the fashion is ridiculous, the dialogue is smart, and there aren’t any shock scenes. I miss movies that work off the story instead of trying to amplify it for shock value. I miss movies with little if no CGI and good acting – movies that take a good story and characters and create a great movie. There are no overly dramatic scenes, and when there is drama, it is often followed with comedy to keep it lighthearted. We could all use a little more fun and innocence in our lives.

If you haven’t seen it or it’s been awhile, you should check it out. And feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. We love to hear from you!

Best Teen Slasher: Cherry Falls

Brittany Murphy Cherry Falls
Photo from: scare-tactic.blogspot.com

Teen slasher movies rank my favorite of the slasher genre. As a big teen and horror movie fan, this subgenre blends the best of both worlds. They combine youth and livelihood with gore and chaos – a perfect fun mix without getting too heavy. However, for a good teen slasher, you need two things: teens who can act like teens and a believable serial killer.

Cherry Falls is a hidden gem and my favorite teen slasher. I first saw this movie on cable TV and fell in love. Here’s why:

Premise/story – Traditional slasher movies follow a specific formula. They have a serial killer, final girl, and teenagers who drink, do drugs, and/or have sex, who will die in the first 30 minutes. Guaranteed. Cherry Falls‘ premise has a serial killer who kills virgins only, which forces the teenagers to do the one thing they’re not supposed to do: have sex. It’s ingenious because what kills them in traditional slashers is the only thing that saves them in Cherry Falls. The premise turns the traditional roles upside down and is unique to the genre.

Brittany Murphy – I just love her. She was so full of life and character, and is a great twisted, goth mess as the star. She’s a good girl with an edge and doesn’t let the people push her around. She’s cute and flirty, but very smart and acts like a teenage girl did in 2000. She’s not afraid to say no, returns what she’s dealt, and knows how to take care of herself. She was a strong final girl and pretty hot too.

Time period – The movie released in 2000, right before teen movies became not as good. The 80s teen slashers are classics (eg. Friday the 13th), the 90s were almost as good (eg. Scream), but the 2000s teen slashers suffered the disease of the new millennium – they followed two great decades of pop culture and tried to be politically correct. Most teen slashers in the 2000s were either sequels, spoofs, or just bad. Cherry Falls was one of the last great teen slashers.

The killer – SPOILER alert. The teacher (Jay Mohr) is the killer. As an audience, you suspect him, but you’re not sure why. The first time I watched it, I didn’t expect him until much later in the movie when it was obvious. It’s not in your face, and the build up is well done. Also, it’s not your typical motive. The movie mixes messed-up abused kid with Psycho-style mommy issues. He’s also not the greatest killer; he gets beat up a lot and has to fight to try to kill the final girl. The killer acts like a real person and portrays what a teacher would act like if he were killing his students.

Between the lines – There’s a lot of questionable subject matter in the movie. Foot fetishes, an awkward father/daughter relationship, a questionable mother/daughter’s boyfriend dynamic, cross-dressing, etc. At first you don’t pay attention to it, but on second or third watch it all comes out. Pay attention to the underlying glances and interactions, and you’ll see this is a pretty effed up small town. Everyone has issues, no one is perfect or trying to be something they’re not. All characters and actors feel very real, which adds something special.

So, why with all the teen slashers out there, is this my favorite? It just is. It’s clever, fun, somewhat cliched, but it puts a spin on a classic genre that I hope one day will come back. They just don’t make them like they used to. If you haven’t seen it, check it out!

Urban Legend: Great 90s Teen Horror

Revenant Publications 90s banner

Maybe it’s age or the fact that being younger is most times easier, but I kind of miss the 90s. A good friend said recently that people were happier in the 90s, and looking back, I have to agree. Even as miserable as adults seemed back then, they didn’t seem as stressed out or tired.

With that said, I’ve subconsciously sunk into a 90s kick. First, it was Are You Afraid of the Dark, now it’s Clarissa Explains It All (review coming later), and tonight as I flipped channels, Urban Legend on TV. And this week’s post was decided.

Urban Legend (1998) is 90s teen horror at its finest. The writing, cast, soundtrack – this movie had it all. A serial killer knocks off teens based on urban legends, and every stereotype you can imagine is in this movie. There’s the douchey popular guy, the final girl, the college newspaper writer, etc. – even Robert Englund plays a professor! It may be my favorite teen horror movie.

Here are my top five reasons I love Urban Legend: (Contains Spoilers)

1. The killer: If you grew up in the 90s, you know the Noxzema chick, Rebecca Gayheart. That commercial was on all the time, and she was a classic 90s teen icon. Her big eyes and fluffy hair were almost unforgettable, especially when she went psycho crazy in the movie.

2. The writing: For a teen horror movie, the script is pretty well written, and there aren’t many bad one liners. When it is bad, it’s supposed to be. It never takes itself too seriously. My favorite line, “Don’t you want to be an urban legend? All your friends are now.”

3. Jared Leto: Any ladies around my age know what I’m talking about.

4. The soundtrack: I just noticed the soundtrack tonight as I listened to the movie. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stabbing Westward, The Crystal Method, Rob Zombie, all signature 90s artists.

5. The kills: There’s blood, guts, and a lot of screaming. Because the kills are based on urban legends, it’s more entertaining than your traditional slasher movie. For example, there’s the girl who gets axed in her car, the guy who drinks Draino, and the date who gets hanged in the tree. I remember watching the guy on stage drink Poprocks and Coke, and I almost died. Sadly, he didn’t.

I admit I haven’t seen the sequels, so if you have any thoughts about them or recommend them, let us know! And for fun, check out the old Noxzema commercial 🙂

The Best Things About Mean Girls

You know them, or you have been one. Maybe you still are. It doesn’t matter though because at some point, most women have been a mean girl.

Photo from : meangirls-confessions.tumblr.com
Photo from : meangirls-confessions.tumblr.com

As I’ve admitted, I have a weakness for good teen movies. And I LOVE this movie. I have seen it so many times I can quote it, and even though she’s somewhat crazy now, I still have a soft spot for old-school Lindsay Lohan.

Mean Girls (2004) is dead-on when it shows how girls – and oftentimes women – treat each other. That is the primary reason I hang out with guys. I never have to worry about guys gossiping behind my back or trying to secretly sabotage me while acting like my best friend. I have been a mean girl though, so I don’t blame anyone for not liking me either.

The movie truly tells the story of a group of high school friends who are obsessed with body image, their social and sexual lives, and terrorizing each other to look good and gain popularity. Mean Girls confronts trends, cliques, and all the horrible things teen girls do to each other, and why it shouldn’t be that way.

Aside from the movie’s obvious themes of forgiveness, girl power, support, and unity, I take a lot of other things (some silly) from the movie:

  • I know, right? Thank you, Rachel McAdams (Regina George). I didn’t realize I picked up this phrase from the movie, but I know I did. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing though.
  • Plastics. I’m not sure if the term derived from the movie, but it’s a great word for the high-fashion, fully made-up types. E.g.: The ones who look like Barbie dolls.
  • Amanda Seyfried. According to IMDB, this was her first movie. I want to personally thank the casting director for picking Seyfried to play the stereotypical really dumb blonde. Who knew she’d turn into the young star she is now?
  • School faculty. This movie reminds us that teachers and principals have real lives and problems. The ones in this movie seem to say what you know every faculty member wants to. Two of my favorite quotes, “I cannot tell you how happy I am this year is over,” and “Oh, hell no. I did not leave the South side for this!” Tim Meadows (Mr. Duvall) says.
  • Girl-on-girl crime is self-destructive. Not only does Mean Girls teach you that you can ruin your best friend’s life, it proves you can ruin your own. You will be exposed, and people will hate you.
  • People you torture will have the last laugh. Lizzy Caplan (Janis Ian) delivers a fantastic speech in the end where she simply confesses trying to destroy McAdams’ life. She falls into the crowd as they chant her name. Be careful who you’re mean to; they often find a way to retaliate.

Do you have a mean-girl related story? Feel free to share below!

A Blast from the Past: Clueless

It’s time to let my secret out: I love teen movies. I know what you’re thinking. I have seen that reaction first-hand when I admit it’s my second-favorite genre. People are shocked, but many teen movies are funny, entertaining, and pretty true to the time period.

That chick from the Aerosmith videos. The girl with the awesome (or crazy) hats. And the adorably helpless girl in flannel with red hair.

If you grew up in the 90s, you know Clueless – and you know it is a great teen movie. Some of it is unrealistic unless you live in Beverly Hills, but it’s well written and a good flick.

Was I Clueless?

me in seventh grade in jeans and a flannel shirt

I was 13 when Clueless came out, and I think I saw it on the big screen. I was so jealous of Cher’s (Alicia Silverstone) wardrobe. That movie made me want to go out and buy new clothes. It still has that effect on me!

I rewatched it a few weeks ago and the 90s came flooding back. Sagging, beepers, weave, flannel, and The Cranberries. Ah… 90s music. In 7th grade, I thought Travis the skater guy was cute. I didn’t get all the jokes either, which was probably a good thing. That’s when I started dying my hair, too.

My Grown-up Perspective

If you want someone to see what the 90s were like, Clueless is a movie to show them. The 90s weren’t all about depression, grunge, and crowd surfing. We had our own mix of styles, enjoyed various kinds of music, and I doubt you’ll find a larger group of people who love cartoons and teen shows more than us. We love them so much, Nickelodeon brought them back in 2011 with the 90s Are All That.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is Cher discussing high school boys and why we should not date them. “They roll out of bed, throw on some clothes and a backwards cap, and we’re supposed to swoon?” Amen, sister. I remember watching that in middle school and thinking, “Why do I like the boys at my school?”

Unlike a lot of teen movies, guys dig Clueless – whether they want to admit it or not. The cast is full of cute girls, the guys are genuine, and it’s funny. It is very funny.

Bigger Issues

Clueless touched on a number of subjects that affect teens even today. Worthless classes, teachers (good and bad), relationships and unrequited love, homosexuality, popularity, and cliques. The rich-kid attitude aside, this movie was a great representation of teens and how they interact with each other.

I also appreciate that the cliques in this movie mesh well. That is not something you see very often, and it’s a shame that no matter where you are, there are little groups of uninviting close-knit people. It’s a good thing to mix it up now and then.

Today, we all know the cute (Tai) late Brittany Murphy, the charming (Josh) Paul Rudd, the gorgeous (Dionne) Stacey Dash, and the cool (Travis) Breckin Meyer. These kids and several more, paired with a fun-loving group of adults, created one of the funniest and best teen movies you’ll ever see. Check out the reunion video below!