Sometimes, you just need a day of vegging with a movie that was part of growing up to get by. Last weekend, I had a rather unpleasant pain management procedure done, so have been trying to take it easy as much as possible. In chats with other friends, we got to talking about the essential “tween/teen” movies which stuck with us, many of which are on the same comfort-watch list. I had a look through Netflix to see what they had to offer and was pleasantly surprised by the selection available. Here’s a look at a few of the Coming Of Age Movies which everyone needs to see at least once.
Starting off with a quintessential 1980s movie is essential for this list, right? The fact that it’s Molly Ringwald filled with teen angst – you can’t get any more coming of age than that. It’s got a god-awful trailer, but the film is just lovely. A little bit of a shock to the system for the smart phone generation perhaps – but definitely a look at how some things never change regardless of the technology you’re using or the clothes you’re wearing!
The Breakfast Club
My personal favourite 1980s movie, The Breakfast Club has lasted the test of time for a reason. Five complete opposites: a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal are all stuck together for one long Saturday. Besides the complete culture shock of detention taking place for a whole day AND at the weekend (in our school, it was an hour after school), it just seemed like a whole other world. It really is a heartwarming movie everyone should watch, with a kick ass soundtrack to match. You’ll find yourself warming to all of them by the end.
Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging
I remember going along to this in the cinema with a gang of friends I’d only met a few days before. Based on the very popular series for teens by author Louise Rennison, the movie introduces us to Georgia, a 14 year old who is hitting hormones, hang-ups and everything in between all at the same time. There’s so much awkwardness in this moment that everyone who has ever been a teenager can relate to. From worrying about not being a good kisser, to the horrific mortification associated with boys, to worrying about your mental family: this film has it all. Despite it being aimed at the tween/teen age bracket, it’s still good for a comfort-watch – and a brilliant mid noughties soundtrack to boot.
Never Been Kissed
Drew Barrymore is SO babyfaced in this 90’s classic. As a copy editor given a chance to become a reporter, she goes undercover and heads back to High School to investigate all of the illicit goings on for an expose piece. At 25, she becomes the 17 year old student to get to try this whole school thing out again – but of course, it’s never as simple as all that. Correcting everyone’s grammar along the way (copy editing tends to do that to you), she manages to infiltrate the cool clique (of course) but comes across a slight mishap when she falls for her English teacher. Yes, technically she’s 25 and all, but this one does get a bit iffy. Never Been Kissed is a lovely rom-com full of laughs and super young Drew, James Franco and Jessica Alba!
Ferris Buellers Day Off
Another John Hughes film (like The Breakfast Club and 16 Candles), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off features Matthew Broderick playing the eponymous Ferris Bueller. He has an uncanny skill at cutting classes and getting away with it. Intending to make one last duck-out before graduation, Ferris calls in sick, “borrows” a Ferrari, and embarks on a one-day journey through the streets of Chicago. On Ferris’ trail is high school principal Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), determined to catch him in the act.
The 1990s was big into working with old English literature and turning it into film; from 10 Things I Hate About You (The Taming of the Shrew), to Romeo and Juliet, to Pride and Prejudice. Clueless is no different, taking it’s inspiration from Jane Austen’s 1818 “Emma”. Shallow, rich and socially successful Cher (Alicia Silverstone) is at the top of her Beverly Hills high school’s pecking scale. Seeing herself as a matchmaker, Cher first coaxes two teachers into dating each other. Emboldened by her success, she decides to give hopelessly klutzy new student Tai (Brittany Murphy) a makeover. Is there such a thing as a teen coming of age movie that DOESN’T include a makeover? When Tai becomes more popular than she is, Cher realizes that her disapproving ex-stepbrother (played by the seemingly never aging Paul Rudd) was right about how misguided she was — and falls for him. We’ll ignore the family awkwardness right there…
Who’d have thought that dancing could be so controversial? Moving in from Chicago, newcomer Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) is in shock when he discovers the small Midwestern town he now calls home has made dancing and rock music illegal. As he struggles to fit in, Ren faces an uphill battle to change things. With the help of his new friend, Willard Hewitt (Christopher Penn), and defiant teen Ariel Moore (Lori Singer), he might loosen up this conservative town. But Ariel’s influential father, Reverend Shaw Moore (John Lithgow), stands in the way. Yes, it’s been remade, but nothing can really come close to the original. If you’re not left with the songs in your head after watching, you’re not doing it right. Teens working together to change the world; can’t get much more coming-of-age than that.
A much more recent addition to the list, and an Irish one to boot. Set in 1980s Dublin, it’s a heartwarming tale of guy-trying-to-get-girl-by-setting-up-a-band. Yes, it’s all be done before, but this is just lovely and you spend the movie rooting for him.
13 Going On 30
This was a sleepover staple during my teenage years. In this feel-good fairy tale, teenager Jenna (Christa B. Allen) wants a boyfriend, and when she’s unable to find one, she fantasizes about being a well-adjusted adult (don’t we all, Jenna, don’t we all). Suddenly, her secret desire becomes a reality, and she is transformed into a 30-year-old (Jennifer Garner). But adulthood, with its own set of male-female challenges, isn’t as easy as it looks. Not only has she become co-editor of Poise, her favourite magazine, but she’s also managed to skip 17 years of her life and nobody seems to find it worrying that she has this level of amnesia about the majority of her life. This movie also gave hope to all awkward looking boys, you too can grow up to look like Mark Ruffalo. While some of the content raises more questions than it answers, there are definitely parts where even adult me is going “Yeah, who of us has ACTUALLY figured that out?”.
This is an absolutely GORGEOUS Irish film from John Butler. It’s a coming of age story based in an all boys boarding school in what I think is the 1980s. There’s a lot of rugby, but don’t let that put you off. It has hints of “Oh Captain, My Captain” in parts, as well as just being charming. It’s got Sherlock’s Moriarty (Andrew Scott) who is the fresh-thinking English teacher who tries to make the boys look at the world around them a little differently. Being a music lover, Ned has been bullied for being “gay” for as long as he can remember. Ostracized from his year for being the only boy to loathe rugby, he finds his own space in his dorm room, until Conor (Nicholas Galitzine) moves in. A transfer student with a history of violence and a natural talent for rugby, Ned takes an instant disliking to the new guy, forming a makeshift Berlin Wall between himself and Conor. Conor’s interest in music, along with encouragement of their English teacher in a talent show, quickly breaks Ned down and the two become closer and closer as friends. But when Ned discovers Conor surreptitiously entering a gay bar, and Conor’s rugby team and coach (Moe Dunford) threaten to expose why he left his previous school, Conor is forced to repress his identity and his friendship to Ned in order to protect himself. Well worth checking out on Netflix.
The Young Offenders
This wasn’t my normal kind of film, but since it was filmed and based in Cork, I thought I’d give it a go. I loved it. Described as the “Irish Dumb and Dumber”, The Young Offenders follows the cross-county journey of two teenage scoundrels (Conor & Jock) as they hatch a plan to escape their troubled family lives by finding a bale of cocaine that may or may not have washed up on the West Cork coast and selling it for some quick cash. You know, the average teenage plan. With gorgeous shots of Cork City and County, some intensely catching accents and even the odd emotional moment, this movie surprised me and is one I’ve watched twice more since and loved just as much. It’s not going to be a deeply inspiring watch but it definitely was a good example of just how good Irish film can be.
So, there we have it, Coming Of Age movies all available at the moment on Netflix that if you’ve not seen them, you really should. Have I left out anything you think is essential? Let me know in the comments, or drop me a message on Facebook.
Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and received a Netflix subscription and an iPad Mini in return for posting Netflix updates and reviews, however, all opinions are my own, and I already had a personal subscription before joining the Stream Team.