Teen movies

The death of Heath Ledger got me thinking about all my favourite teen movies seeing as how he was in one of my faves: Ten Things I Hate About You. And because thinking about fabby teen movies is more fun than thinking about talented people dying. I love ’em—almost as much as I love YA.

Here are my off-the-top-of-my-head favourites:

Bend It Like Beckham
Better Off Dead
Bring It On
Dirty Dancing
East of Eden
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Ginger Snaps
Gregory’s Girl
The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love
Looking For Alibrandi
The Lost Boys (added because of reminders in the comments)
Mean Girls
Rebel Without A Cause
Say Anything
She’s All That (mostly for the dance sequence at the end)
The Sure Thing
Ten Things I Hate About You
The Warriors
The Year My Voice Broke

You may notice that I have omitted the John Hughes oeuvre. That is because I had the misfortune of rewatching Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Pretty in Pink recently. And, to be kind, I will simply say they do not stand up.

What are your faves? And why?


  1. Kelly G. on #

    Occasional commenter here who would love to chat about teen movies.

    I am 100% with you on Ten Things I Hate About You (one of my favorite movies EVER), Bring It On, Clueless, Ginger Snaps, Mean Girls, and She’s All That.

    I am sad, however, that you don’t like Breakfast Club anymore. It my opinion, The Breakfast Club was one of the most glorious moments of teen film history…in all history! Gah!

  2. eek on #

    I agree with so many of your picks, especially:
    Bend It Like Beckham
    Mean Girls
    Ten Things I Hate About You

    Here are a few of my other faves:
    Almost Famous (amazing with great music and resonance)
    D.E.B.S. (campy girl spy movie with hot girl-on-girl action)
    Blue Crush (more hot women, surfers, especially Keala Kennelly)
    Camp (Campy plus singing and fun but a enough point to also be serious)
    Drop Dead Gorgeous (Campy and funny and a little dark with Allison Janney)
    Center Stage (Guilty Pleasure)
    Spacecamp (childhood fave)

    And ok, so not movies, but three of the best Teen TV shows ever:
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    Freaks & Geeks
    My So-Called Life


  3. Veronica on #

    Wait–no Heathers? Really? You don’t love Heathers?

  4. Rob Vagle on #

    Better off Dead!

    Can’t By Me Love with Patrick Dempsey back in 1987. I remember liking that teen movie. I wonder if it still holds up?

  5. Kelly on #

    I’m definitely with you on Better Off Dead (I love that movie sooo much), Ferris Bueller, Say Anything (I think I give away what generation I am with those three), and Mean Girls. Real Genius (does that qualify? It was set at a college) still tickles me, mostly because I identify with the nerdiness/awkwardness.

  6. Da Chicagoan on #

    Have to tell you that you didn’t give John Hughes a complete pass – “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is Hughes’ opus magnum about adolescence and growing up in Chicago.

    Ferris Bueller is a righteous dude.

  7. cei cei on #

    im with you almost 100% but living with my mom i love the molly movies as i call them, espicaly the Breakfast Club

  8. Camille on #

    Are there any actual teenagers in “Stand by Me”? ๐Ÿ™‚ (Come to think of it, were there any actual teenagers in “Brick”?)

    I kind of loved “The Nostradamus Kid.”

    “Bring it On” embarasses me, but also makes me want to dance, so I have to include it. I am also humilated by my love for “Weird Science.” I don’t know. DON’T JUDGE ME. *weepings* ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Andrew on #

    (Hi there, long-time reader, first-time commenter)

    “Empire Records” for so, so many reasons, but mostly because it epitomised what it meant to be a teen in the 90’s (which is what I was).


    “Footloose”, because if anybody can make dancing cool for guys, it’s Kevin Bacon.

  10. dragonfly on #


    10 things i hate about you


    ferris beuller’s day off

    sixteen candles


    those are my favorites. i’m not sure if the last one qualifies as a teen movie…but i’m counting it. ๐Ÿ˜› but footloose is definitely my very favorite. as my sister would say: mmmm….bacon! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. holly black on #

    My faves (there are many):

    Bring it On
    Breakfast Club
    Better off Dead
    Mean Girls
    Get Real
    Benny and June
    Napoleon Dynamite
    Detroit Rock City
    The Craft
    The Lost Boys
    River’s Edge

  12. Rebecca on #

    okay, so i agree with so many of your picks, but i will now add several. i never really liked most of the brat pack movies, but i did enjoy dirty dancing after watching it a second time. bend it, clueless, 10 things, the incredibly true story, saved! especially rock. i also never understood the appeal of ferris bueller. and darn you, i’ve gotten used to no caps!

    but i’m a cheerleader (jamie babbitt is amazing)

    the craft (because come on, it’s amazing)

    scream 1-3 (because i love neve campbell) + i know what you did last summer (because i love sarah michelle gellar and jennifer love hewitt)

    dick (um, it’s bust a gut hysterical)

    almost every disney channel original movie from the late nineties and early 2000s (wish upon a star, anyone?)

    the princess diaries


    she’s the man (amanda bynes in drag.)

    and, now, juno.

  13. holly black on #

    I had high hopes for She’s The Man as I love me some girls dressed as boys, but for some reason it didn’t quite work for me.

  14. rebecca on #

    Bend It Like Beckham (my soccer team and i were obsessed junior year of hs)
    Mean Girls (still obsessed)
    Ten Things I Hate About You (lovvvvve. heath ledger + larissa oleynik–i was an alex mack fan)
    Freaky Friday (Lindsay Lohan remake. so funny)
    Juno (got the soundtrack on right now. come to think of it, i’ve got the soundtrack on pretty much 24/7)

  15. Megan Crewe on #

    I think my absolute favorite (of the classics) is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. So funny and yet there’s those moments of depth, too.

    Others I’m fond of:

    Adventures in Babysitting
    Back to the Future
    Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
    Buffy The Vampire Slayer (yes, I actually enjoy the movie)
    Dirty Dancing
    Donnie Darko (can’t believe no one else has mentioned this!)
    Don’t Tell Mom, the Babysitter’s Dead
    Ghost World
    Say Anything

  16. marrije on #

    ferris bueller! oh how i love that one.

    and dirty dancing of course.

    {Insert picture of my boyfriend rolling his eyes here.}

  17. Rikhei on #

    Most of my favourite teen movies have been mentioned by yourself or others, but I can’t believe no one’s mentioned Some Kind of Wonderful. It has only the best kiss scene ever! Also a very awesome rendition of “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” at the end, performed by Licking Tins.

  18. Barry on #

    Ah, someone else just mentioned Some Kind of Wonderful, a personal fav of mine. I also have a real soft spot for Valley Girl, and Real Genius may be one of the best nerd triumph films of all times.

    And yea, how could Heathers not be on your list?

  19. PJ Hoover on #

    The Lost Boys!

    I’d list more, but this just pops to the top too darn fast.

  20. Cheryl Rainfield on #

    Ohh, I really love some of the movies you’ve listed here! And many of the others I haven’t seen, which makes me want to.

    I especially love
    Bend It Like Beckham
    Dirty Dancing
    The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love

    All of those movies are well-written and acted, and have depth–and strong girl characters, which is important to me–And teens standing up against some form of oppression or inequality or something(well, dirty dancing is more focused on the male protag, but he sure stands up to a form of oppression).

    I know there are others, i just can’t think of them right now. hm. i love Big with Tom Hanks–don’t know if that’s a YA movie, though–and Cocoon….

    good movies, like good books, are wonderful.

  21. Justine on #

    Love seeing so many first-time commenters. Welcome!

    As Da Chicagoan pointed out I should have said that I don’t like John Hughes’s Molly movies. I loved them as a kid but seeing them recently was a shocking disappointment. Molly=world’s biggest whinger. But Ferris Bueller is fabulous. Especially as it makes me like someone I wouldn’t be able to stand in real life.

    I’m shocked so many of you like Brick. I thought it was sexist predictable boring rubbish. I hate Rushmore and Election for similar reasons. But I forgive you; we all have glitches in our taste files.

    Heathers is okay but I don’t love it the way I did when I was a kid. To make my list I have to be able to watch the movie multiple times. I don’t think I can watch Heathers again.

    I’m also shocked that none of you seem to have seen Gregory’s Girl. You all MUST see it!

    Because of your reminders I have added The Lost Boys to the list. I can’t believe I forgot it!

    Holly: Like I said I included She’s All That because of the dance sequence at the end, which I adore and can watch multiple times. It’s not that good a film otherwise.

  22. niki on #

    SAVED!! you must have saved!!

  23. Justine on #

    Niki: Can you not read? I DO have Saved!

  24. janet on #

    Ferris Bueller is one of the few movies I ever walked out of. In fact, I walked out of it twice in one viewing — the friend who had given me a ride was still watching the movie, and I had stupidly forgotten to bring a book to read, so I went back in. Then I ran out again just before the end, so that I could preserve the illusion that the little sh*t got caught.

  25. Lauren on #

    Let’s not forget Juno. Laughed and cried the whole way through.

    Also One Crazy Summer and does anyone remember Ice Castles? Dude, when I was a teenager, I thought that stuff was way deep.

    Oh and one more.

    Valley Girl.

    Seriously, a teenaged Nicolas Cage? Meow.

  26. ariel cooke on #

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Princess Diaries or Ella Enchanted!

    I also love Clueless, Heathers and Valley Girl– remember that fabulous tagline: “She’s cool/he’s hot/she’s from the Valley/he’s not!”

    I never liked Dirty Dancing (put Baby back in her corner PLEASE) or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Flashdance reads like an extended commercial for legwarmers.

    I still haven’t seen Mean Girls and I’m dying to. Must rush right out to Blockbuster.

  27. Brent on #

    Better Off Dead is an all-time favorite. Drumline I like because I’m a musician and was in marching band too. Ferris Bueller’s is another “classic” teen flick. One of my favorites is Toy Soldiers. Breakfast Club is still decent but I agree that Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink are probably more suited to be made fun of now than watched.

  28. chris. on #

    Oh! I don’t want to hear that Hughes’s oeuvre doesn’t hold up. I’m not *surprised* that it doesn’t, but i don’t want to HEAR it! Because one of these days i’m going to introduce my (younger than i) husband to them, and i just *know* i’m going to be thoroughly embarrassed to have to admit to him that i *liked* these things once upon a time. So i won’t hear it, i won’t!! [claps hands over ears] LALALALALALALALALALA!

  29. Kadie-Wa on #

    I absoultly adore “A walk to rember” It’s the best movie ever!! It has mandy moore in it, and I love her acting.

    I also love Juno. It just came out. It takes place in MN, where I’m from. It is really funny, and very true at the same time.

  30. Liset on #

    i so agree with empire reords!
    mostly because i love when they sing sugar rush in the end!

    i love the outsiders!
    it’s so un-teen, but the most teen… if that makes any sense…

  31. emily on #

    mean girls is sooooooo awesome!!!!! best movie ever. (well, except for zoolander. which isn’t really a teen movie but so amazingly awesome it should count.)

    other great movies: bend it like beckham (i loved the coach-dude. can i just make out with him?) she’s all that, and she’s the man.

  32. Ellie on #

    While I like most of the movies listed I’m gonna have to go with Get Over It because it’s a terrible movie that is so bad it’s awesome, and anything with a song called Fun To Be A Fairy has to be good.

  33. Tom on #

    Maybe it shows my age but i am surprised no one has mentioned:

    Fast Times at Ridgemont High

    and my favorite high school geek movie…

    Pump up the Volume

  34. emily on #

    wait, i was reading the other comments and i just realized i forgot freaky friday! it’s awesome! how could i?

  35. Laini Taylor on #

    Me too, me too! So many good movies! We just watched 10 Things I Hate About You last night and were struck with such awful sadness all over again. There are a few on your list I haven’t heard of — I’ll have to check them out. Oh, the gymnastics movie Stick It! from a few years ago was a good one. More even than plain teen movies, I love teen dance and sport movies!

  36. emily on #

    this is off-topic, but i was wondering – can you use the title of a song for the title of a manuscript? please answer! thanks!

  37. Allie on #

    i love ferris!!! i’m 13 and quote the movie all the time and my friends never know what i’m talking about.

    Hey, when did the big letters start showing up?

  38. Isabella on #

    Hmm… fron the list:

    Bend It Like Beckham
    Bring It On
    Ferris Buellerโ€™s Day Off
    Mean Girls
    Sheโ€™s All That

    And some others would be:

    Napolean Dynamite
    Freaky Friday
    She’s the Man
    What a Girl Wants

  39. Elise on #

    I read your blog regularly, however I have this irrational fear of commenting on blogs. I’m very intimidated by people who comment on blogs and videos, etc. No idea why, so this is a very big deal for me:)


    Okay, the only thing I don’t like about your list is your aversion to John Hughes’s Molly Ringwald films, but I’ll let it slide, because you’re awesome.

    But I do have one question. You mentioned Looking for Alibrandi in your list, which is a book I really, really loved and I’ve been trying to get a hold of the movie. However, living in Arizona of the USA has rather put a damper on that. I was just wondering if you knew of anywhere in the US where one could go about finding that film.

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