Today, I turned 18. I am now officially an adult who can buy alcohol and become a pornstar. Hurrah!
Growing up is scary but being a teenager is scarier. Watching the struggles of other teens on film is a perfect way to cheer yourself up about the confusing time that is teenagehood.
So with all that in mind, here are my top ten these-kids-are-growing-up-and-its-scary-for-them-too movies.
Note: There are spoilers below. Beware.
10. Little Miss Sunshine
Even though this film is about a family, with people of all ages, each of the different characters grow up throughout the film, whether it is Steve Carrell’s suicide survivor or Paul Dano’s heartbreaking moment of realisation that his dream of being a pilot will never come true. It beautifully looks at the small moments of growing up that happen in all stages and walks of life.
9. (500) Days Of Summer
This was my favourite film when I was 14 and far from being a love story, it’s a film about the final piece of maturing that comes with first heartbreak. It’s about realising that loving someone who doesn’t love you back doesn’t make you a martyr and them terrible. Its also a reminder of the tint on all memories, a reminder that as much as you might remember the good moments, the bad exist as well. It’s a reminder that sometimes you’re falling in love with love, rather than the person you think you love. You know?
Adventureland sees Jesse Eisenberg realise that the plan he had laid out for his life might not be the one he follows. The brilliant thing about it is the real taste of teenage life within the film. There’s moments of feeling like an outcast or a loser, small moments of freedom, and moments where you realise that your life might not be what you wanted – but that doesn’t make it a failure. This film is one of my all time favourites and everytime I watch it I feel transported to a 1980s crappy theme park, that’s really quite beautiful. A metaphor for the teenage years.
7. 10 Things I Hate About You
For my 12th birthday my parents cooked me and my friends a roast dinner and we watched this. The typical teenager moodily cuts themselves off from the world much like Kat. But this film demonstrates that it’s okay to find happiness in your own way, and that it’s okay to not be so angry with the world. It’s also handy if you’re doing The Taming of the Shrew in school.
This moment sums it up pretty well.
6. Son Of Rambow
A beautiful film starring Bill Milner and We’re The Millers’ Will Poulter, Son of Rambow is a film about true friendship and fake popularity found in the strangest of places. It’s also about the creation of film bringing people together, something that the film itself does when you watch it. Lovely.
5. Wild Bill
Again featuring Will Poulter (he is fab), Wild Bill is the directorial debut from Dexter Fletcher and it tells the story of two boys forced to rely on the father who deserted them. The performances are brilliant, and it cleverly depicts seeing your dad as a father figure for the first time, and the growing up it takes to fully step into becoming a dad. There’s also some brilliant scenes with Will Poulter and Charlotte Spencer which look at the more.. sticky parts of growing up.
4. Pretty In Pink
Pretty In Pink is about going against the grain and falling for people you weren’t meant to, and is another from Breakfast Club creator and Brat Pack leader John Hughes who managed to create a set of films which are the go-to for teenage life in the 80s. One of the best things about this film is the fact that Andie (Ringwald) doesn’t have to change her clothes or compromise who she is to get the guy – she’s enough as she is, and it is up to him to change his mindset. Radical!
3. The Graduate
At the start of The Graduate Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) is a squeaky and nervous college graduate, telling everyone how confused he is about the future. By the end he’s banging on a window in a church, shouting for the woman he loves. The Graduate looks at not only first love, but first affairs too. It’s an incredibly rebellious film where the youngest characters do what makes them happy, rather than their suburban parents. Also, Simon & Garfunkel are the perfect soundtrack to a rebellious sixties launch into adulthood.
2. The Breakfast Club
The definitive film about teenage life, where a group of teenagers worlds are changed by a saturday detention. It’s about the realisation that the cliques that form in schools aren’t important because everyone is united by the pains of school, family and the confusing bit of life that is growing up. If ever you see a lost and sad teenager, hand them this film.
This scene perfectly sums up those small moments of pure freedom and anarchy within teen movies and teen life.
1. The Cornetto Trilogy
I know technically these are three films, but they’re all equally important. All of these films aren’t about growing up and becoming more mature; they’re about accepting joy in your life, and doing what makes you happy rather than what is the adult thing to do. And really, that’s the most grown up thing you can do.
In Shaun Of The Dead, Simon Pegg’s Shaun finds that it takes the perspective of flesh eating brain dead humans to make not only him but also his girlfriend (played by Liz Jones) find joy in the lives they already have.
Hot Fuzz similarly looks at allowing yourself to become a child again through your enjoyment of life – by the end of the film Nicholas Angel is more alive than he was at the start, despite the lack of car chases in his life. All because of his befriendment of Nick Frost’s Danny.
The Worlds End, most of all, is about growing up. The film focuses on Simon Pegg’s character facing up to the fact that the happiest moment of his life is still the end of his teenage years. The film sees his failure to grow up and move on from what he believed were the happiest days of his life, to grow up and move on from addictions. It examines how although people might grow up and away from their youthful days, it doesn’t mean they’re enjoying it. Finding joy in childhood despite being an adult is beautiful.
The brilliant thing about the Cornetto Trilogy is that as each film is about finding lost joys of teenage life, we as an audience got to see Pegg, Frost and Wright growing up along the way.