In the mid-‘80s, we had the John Hughes collection -- The
Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Sixteen Candles, Some
Kind of Wonderful, Weird Science -- and in the late-‘90s/early-‘00s,
a new era of high school classics -- American Pie, Bring It On, She’s
All That, 10 Things I Hate About You -- stormed theaters with its
CW-primed cast of up-and-comers.
Not since 2004’s Mean Girls have moviegoers seen
a film resonate with an audience and impact a culture as widely as it has. Yet,
in the decade since, there have been several flicks that have nevertheless raised
the bar for what a teen film can be. Whether it’s the Shailene Woodley
collection of films that’s redefining teen romance or this summer’s Dope, which
makes nerdy the new black, these films are ushering in a new era of teen films
that everyone must see.
and everything you thought you knew about Kristen Stewart and watch this theme
park comedy featuring a lively and youthful Stewart as Jesse Eisenberg’s love
interest. It’s a heartfelt story about having to suck it up and absorb the hard
knocks until you figure everything out.
Rotten Tomatoes Freshness: 88%
2. The Bling Ring
Sofia Coppola returned to her teen roots -- see The
Virgin Suicides -- with this real-life drama about a group of teens who
start house-crashing and robbing the likes of Paris Hilton and Audrina
Patridge. Coppola gave the film her cool girl-aesthetic while Emma Watson and
Katie Chang channeled their inner mean girls to “go shopping” in Hilton’s
Rotten Tomatoes Freshness: 60%
Like The Wood before it, this film focuses the
spotlight on Inglewood, Calif., giving audiences a taste of urban teen culture
packed with tons of ‘90s nostalgia. And like Dear White People, it
offers a hilarious look at what it means to be an educated black teen in a
post-Obama world. AND like many films on this list, it comes with a
killer soundtrack -- this one spearheaded by Pharrell Williams.
Rotten Tomatoes Freshness: 91%
4. The DUFF
Easily one of the funniest teen comedies since Mean Girls, The DUFF said "no" to being pretty and "yes" to
owning your ugly. Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell bring so much natural chemistry
to their on-screen romance, it’s hard not to fall for these two falling in
Rotten Tomatoes Freshness: 72%
5. Easy A
Following breakout roles in Superbad and The House Bunny, Emma Stone commanded the attention of fans as the Scarlet Letter-branded teen
with nothing to lose. This film was probably the first since Mean Girls to spill over into an undying
world of GIFs and quotable references.
Rotten Tomatoes Freshness: 85%
6. & 7. The Fault in Our Stars/The Spectacular Now
The Shailene Woodley duo of films redefined what teen
romances could be and proved that you don’t need all the Nicholas Sparks schmaltz
to tell a story about a girl falling for a boy, that boy falling for that girl,
and cancer (or alcoholism) to ruin it. Step aside, Sparks. You’re done here.
Rotten Tomatoes Freshness: 81%/93%
This version of the high school story put the gay kid
front-and-center and made good use of all the ‘90s teen comedy tropes that came
before it. And just like every comedy from that previous era, it made use of an
up-and-coming cast of MTV stars all ready to bounce from TV to film.
Rotten Tomatoes Freshness: 82%
This Oscar-nominated film made a household name out of Ellen
Page, who starred as a pregnant teen with more common sense than most of the
adults around her. It was a touching, sharp-tongued approach to a topic that
easily could have been more drab on Lifetime.
Rotten Tomatoes Freshness: 94%
10. The Kings of Summer
This very little-seen film starred Jurassic World’s Nick Robinson as a boy on the verge of adulthood
-- and deeply frustrated by it. Seeking escape in a house he built in the
woods, he and his two friends navigate the bonds of male friendship and the unexpected
responsibilities of being self-sufficient and independent.
Rotten Tomatoes Freshness: 75%
11. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Say what you will about Michael Cera, but this film (and the
previously mentioned Juno) featured him
before he became insufferable on the same level as James Franco (another former
teen star). Nick and Norah was a sweet romance that never tried too hard and
supported itself with an amazing collection of indie-alt rock.
Rotten Tomatoes Freshness: 74%
12. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Adapted from Stephen Chbosky’s popular novel, this
coming-of-age drama captured all the teen angst high schoolers have felt since
Holden Caulfield became an icon for teenage rebellion. The film also featured
one of the best casts, with Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Logan Lerman, Mae Whitman,
and Nina Dobrev all bringing the novel’s characters to life.
Rotten Tomatoes Freshness: 85%
13. Spring Breakers
The R-rated film, starring Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens and Pretty
Little Liars' Ashley Benson, gave fans a twisted look at their favorite
child stars gone terribly, terribly bad. Released in the same year as The
Bling Ring, these cult films also served as a warning: all that glitz and
glamour comes with a price.
Rotten Tomatoes Freshness: 66%
14. Warm Bodies
While it seemed like vampires would dominate the teen
romance genre, Warm Bodies proved
that audiences had an appetite for more than glittery bodies and a cold-hearted
Kristen Stewart. The zombie romance was a smart comedy that blurred romance
with the latest monster craze.