Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller, Mean Girls, Clueless and more
Summer beckons, school will soon be out, and the Time Out team have got nostalgic for the summers of yesteryear (what we’d give for a six week summer holiday now). With that in mind, we list the best teen movies that adults will remember watching the first time around, and that teens need to add to their must-see list.
Mean Girls (2004) Director: Mark Waters Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Tina Fey Yearbook superlative: Most likely to wear pink on a Wednesday Plot: Cady Heron (Lohan) moves back to the States after living in Africa for 12 years and her introduction to public school, with its rules and rituals, doesn’t go smoothly. She’s left to choose between her new friends, the uncool Janis and Damian, and the seemingly all-powerful Plastics, lead by Regina George (McAdams). Inspired by Rosalind Wiseman’s Queen Bees and Wannabes, a self-help book that explored school cliques, the screenplay, written by Tina Fey, explores the universal teen urge to do anything to be one of the cool kids, and the effects of bullying. That’s why Mean Girls is top of the class
Clueless (1995) Director: Amy Heckerling Cast: Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd Yearbook superlative: Least likely to swoon over a high school boy. As if! Plot: Clueless is still the classic we all think of when someone says ‘teen movie’. And let’s be real, Cady Heron’s got nothing on Cher Horowitz (or Jane Austen’s Emma, for that matter, on whom Cher is based). Our pretty, popular protagonist’s seemingly vapid exterior belies her wit and charm, which she uses, admittedly, to get what she wants. But the joy of this film is watching Cher stumble through her self-centredness to emerge a mature version of herself.
The Breakfast Club (1985) Director: John Hughes Cast: Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson Yearbook superlative: Best accidental clique Plot: The best high school movie of all time? The Breakfast Club is definitely up there. Five kids trapped in the library during Saturday detention have eight hours to ponder the error of their ways. They’re from all different walks of high school life: jock (Estevez), goth girl (Ally Sheedy), prom queen (Ringwald), bad boy (Nelson) and science geek (Anthony Michael Hall). But they have one big thing in common: they are teenagers, at the mercy of peer pressure and their parents’ expectations.
Heathers (1988) Director: Michael Lehmann Cast: Winona Ryder, Christian Slater Yearbook superlative: Best use of a non-shatterproof glass coffee table Plot: Heathers is one of the darkest, punch-in-the-gut funniest films on our list. A tale of cold-blooded murder and its disastrous consequences, the film is subversive not for its depiction of high-school kids as a nest of unhinged power-hungry vipers, but for the way it takes the traditional heroic outsider figure and slowly picks away at his leather-clad veneer until all that’s left is a pathetic loser with homicidal self-esteem issues.
Rushmore (1998) Director: Wes Anderson Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Olivia Williams Yearbook superlative: Most likely to make you question your own lacklustre childhood Plot: Enter Max Fischer (Schwartzman), the most intriguing and downright lovable hero in the history of high school films. Obsessed with everything from beekeeping to theatrical production, Fischer is so far ahead of your average teen that it’s little wonder his attentions are fixed on one of his teachers, rather than the usual bubblehead cheerleader.
Dazed and Confused (1993) Director: Richard Linklater Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey, Jason London Yearbook superlative: Least likely to remember the day before Plot: Two decades on, director Richard Linklater has become the most impressive American filmmaker working today, singularly devoted to long-form storytelling (Boyhood, the Before movies) and still, some would say this one remains his best: a pitch-perfect evocation of a Texas high-school graduation day during the Bicentennial summer. Several crossroads are met and pondered: to play or not to play football? And does one go joyriding or no?
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) Director: John Hughes Cast: Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara Yearbook superlative: Most likely to keep reminiscing about high school on Facebook three decades later Plot: Bueller is a rare self-aware popular-kid-teen-hero who realises senior year is as easy as it gets, even for the brainy good guys. And Hughes depicts adolescence as a theme park as much as a source of anxiety – and his day off is pure fantasy.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999) Director: Gil Junger Cast: Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt Yearbook superlative: Most likely to start a ska band Plot: Loosely based on The Taming of the Shrew, 10 Things I Hate About You takes a timeless story of a belligerent lady and shoves it firmly into the late ’90s. When Cameron (Gordon-Levitt) starts at Padua High, he falls for pretty, popular Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik) whose dad won’t let her date until her older sister Kat does. Kat (Stiles) is having none of it, so the boys pay Patrick Verona (Ledger) to woo her.