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Top 10 Teen Movies of ALL TIME

VO: Emily Brayton
Script written by Nick Spake The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Princess Diaries, The Breakfast Club, 10 Things I Hate About You, Easy A, Grease and Mean Girls. These are some of the best teen movies of all time! They are relatable in so many ways to teens and their success in the box office proves their longevity in film history!

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Top 10 Favorite Teen Movies

These are the movies that got us through the nightmare that is adolescence. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Favorite Teen Movies.

For this list, we’re taking a look at movies that speak to the teen in all of us.

#10: “Bring It On” (2000)

In most teen movies, cheerleaders are usually one-note caricatures, coming across as stupid, easy, and antagonistic. The opening scene of this cult classic parodies all of the clichés we associate with cheerleaders. However, “Bring It On” also succeeds in humanizing this archetype, providing a better understanding of the cheer world. At the center of everything is a plucky performance from Kirsten Dunst as Torrance, who shows her cheer squad that friendship, teamwork, and sportsmanship take precedence over winning. With sharp one-liners, a passionate spirit, and good cheer to boot, it’s a comedy with all the right moves.

#9: “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” (2005)

This might at first sound like another cheesy chick flick, yet it’s a surprisingly deep adaption of Ann Brashares’ novel, carried by four immensely talented actresses. Best friends Lena, Carmen, Bridget, and Tibby may go their separate ways over the summer, but they remain connected through a pair of pants that miraculously fits them all. While each girl faces her fair share of typical teen drama, they also confront many heavy issues regarding death, divorce, and virginity. The more serious moments are balanced out with a lot of heart and humor. It’s a coming-of-age story that fits with a wide range of young adults, much like the pants themselves.

#8: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012)

When you’re a freshman in high school, it’s easy to feel like you don’t belong anywhere. You’re never alone, however, as there’s always somebody else blending into the crowd with you. Charlie Kelmeckis learns this valuable lesson in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” a smart, funny, and powerful adaptation of Stephen Chbosky’s novel. As he befriends seniors Sam and Patrick, Charlie sees that everyone has a right to the high school experience, be they popular or below average. He also finds that every teen has their inner demons, be it pertaining to bigotry, mental illness, or common insecurities. No matter what you’re going through, it’s a lot easier with a friend in your corner.

#7: “The Princess Diaries” (2001)

It’s safe to say that every young girl has had a dream akin to one in which a distant relative comes for a visit and reveals that they’re of royal descent. For fifteen-year-old Mia Thermopolis, this fantasy becomes a reality. Where most teens would leap at the opportunity to be a princess, Mia is reluctant at first. Through the support of her friends and family, though, she just might find the confidence to rule her kingdom. Thus ensues a charming ugly duckling story carried by a star-making performance from Anne Hathaway. The presence of Julie Andrews also greatly helps, as one Disney legend passes the crown to future Mouse House royalty.

#6: “Easy A” (2010)

Ironically, this teen comedy is considered by many to be a better take on “The Scarlet Letter” than the 1995 film version with Demi Moore. “Easy A” brings Nathaniel Hawthorne’s literary masterpiece into the modern world with a clever screenplay and a breakthrough performance from Emma Stone. As Olive Penderghast, Stone plays a 17-year-old virgin who tells one little white lie that snowballs into a big scandal. Labeled the town tart, Olive decides to have some fun with her new status and discovers something about herself along the way. In addition to being endlessly witty, the film offers an important moral for every teenager: whether you have sex in high school or not, it’s nobody else’s business.

#5: “10 Things I Hate About You” (1999)

Yet another modern movie that borrows from a classic, “10 Things I Hate About You” is the high school equivalent of William Shakespeare's “The Taming of the Shrew.” In this interpretation, the quote unquote “shrew” is Kat, a teenage girl with no interest in dating. When she inadvertently gets entangled in her little sister’s love life, though, Kat winds up falling for bad boy Patrick. Despite its familiar tropes, this romantic comedy exceeded expectations thanks to its quotable lines, infectious soundtrack, and plenty of sincere moments. It also helped jumpstart the careers of several cast members, including Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the late Heath Ledger.

#4: “The Breakfast Club” (1985)

At a time when most movies didn’t take the world of high school very seriously, writer and director John Hughes showed everyone that teenagers are people too. He defined a generation with “Sixteen Candles,” “Pretty in Pink,” and especially “The Breakfast Club.” Although it hit the scene in the mid-80s, this coming-of-age tale easily could have come out today. High school is still divided into cliques, from the brains, to the athletes, to the basket cases, to the princesses, to the criminals. When you break down every teenager to their core, however, they all have a great deal in common. Our five leads learn this through an eye-opening Saturday in detention, changing both them and the audience forever.

#3: “Clueless” (1995)

If you grew up in the ‘90s, chances are you wanted to be Cher Horowitz. Rich, beautiful, and fashionable, this character epitomizes everything the teenage dream stands for. At the same time, Cher still manages to be an identifiable protagonist. She’s spoiled, but never condescending or mean-spirited. She’s fabulous, but isn’t without her flaws. She’s clueless, but much smarter than she appears. The same can be said about the film itself, which molds the Valley Girl stereotype into a three-dimensional individual. “Clueless” also notably derives inspiration from Jane Austen's “Emma.” Much like how Austen understood the women of her era, writer/director Amy Heckerling gets the mentality of teenage girls down to a T.

#2: “Grease” (1978)

“Grease” isn’t exactly an accurate depiction of the ‘50s. It’s not the most accurate depiction of high school either, but perhaps that’s what makes this musical so enduring. The film is completely wrapped up in its own little world, offering its audience a much-needed escape. Of course, that’s not to say the film isn’t relatable. No matter what era you grew up in, you likely saw a bit of yourself in Danny, Sandy, or one of the other iconic players. These are timeless characters that speak to us even decades later. So, in a strange way, “Grease” does say something enriching about the teenage experience, all while cementing its legacy with an insanely catchy soundtrack.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“Heathers” (1988)

“The Edge of Seventeen” (2016)

“She’s the Man” (2006)

#1: “Mean Girls” (2004)

While it was far from the first movie about high school, this comedy set a new standard for the genre with unforgettable dialog, biting satire, and characters that felt all too real. Now it seems like almost every teen movie wants to be the next “Mean Girls.” While many are just pale imitations, others have come fairly close to capturing the humor, depth, and wit that put “Mean Girls” on the map. In that sense, you could argue that it ushered in a new golden age of teen movies. With that said, nothing has been able to top Mark Waters’ keen eye for direction, Tina Fey’s brilliant screenplay, or the ensemble’s dead-on portrayals. To this date, it remains queen bee.


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