Thursday, October 4, 2007

Thursday 13

I admit freely that I enjoy teen movies. Teenagers are so angst-y and full of fumbling toward life that the rest of us mature people will not admit to. Well-written teen movies capture moments we all had to face and expose some of the ridiculousness inherent in that time of life.

But teen movies need to be split into two categories: the teen comedy, and the drama, or "coming of age" film. This week, I will focus on comedies.

For a great full list, go here:
Wikipedia: teen comedy films

13 of my favorite teeny-bopper flicks, in release date order:

1. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) A Cameron Crowe movie (also did Say Anything, Singles, Jerry McGuire). Sean Penn's best role (sad that it was his first). Now, in 1982, I was 11. I didn't see this movie for many, many years, but once initiated, I understood the appeal. Ray Walston stole the show as Mr. Hand. Believe it or not, this came from a book written by Cameron Crowe in 1981. Rolling Stone paid him to go undercover at high school as a student, to understand the modern teen. What, you say? Sounds like the plot of Never Been Kissed (1999)? Very few people accuse Hollywood of being original.

2. Risky Business (1983) At one time, Tom Cruise was hot. This was that era. Joel, get off the babysitter. Look for Curtis Armstrong – he’s ubiquitous in films 1983 – 1987 as the buddy. Click to see that famous underwear dance

3. Sixteen Candles (1984) One of two pinnacles of teen comedy. Ultimately quotable. For years, I did the actor playing Jake a disservice and thought he was Matt Dillon. Whoops. Sorry, Michael Schoeffling. From Long Duck Dong to Farmer Ted, this remains one of my favorite films of all time.

4. Better Off Dead (1985) The other pinnacle. “Two dollars!” Cusak at his cutest. Gross Pointe Blank (1997) is like the ten year reunion for this movie. Curtis Armstrong is here, too.

5. Heathers (1989) Surprising this movie has not been banned, with what it shows the teen set doing. Drugs, alcohol, sex, blowing up school buildings, teen suicide, gay bashing (“I love my dead, gay son!”), murder...but the social pressure inherent in girl groups like the Heathers does exist. It is all too real. See Mean Girls for more. “Heather, why are you such a megabitch?” “Because I can be.” Yep.

6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) Long before Joss Whedon took over and made it serious, this was one kick-ass campy movie. Favorite bit: Paul Reubens dying…slowly…from a stake in the heart. “Ooo, oh…oooo…”

7. Clueless (1995) My video movie guide lists Alicia Silverstone as "adorably petulant." I'll second that. This updated treatment of Jane Austin’s Emma fits right in with 90’s sensibilities. “I, like, totally paused!” I adore the scene where she negotiates higher grades with her teachers.

8. Mallrats (1995) I love Kevin Smith movies. Anything from his ViewAskewniverse. Silent Bob is my favorite character. Shannon Doherty gets to show her claws here, and poke fun at Beverly Hills 90210. And can anyone really see the sailboat in those darn posters?!

9. Can't Hardly Wait (1998) Jennifer Love Hewitt. Nerdy, one-of-the-guys hot chick becomes visible to her male best friend. Touching and poignant, and Love is just so cute.

10. She's All That (1999) Freddie Prinze Jr., Rachael Leigh Cook, Matthew Lilliard. The best part of this Pygmalion is the h/h becoming friends, rather than lovers. Sure, they kiss at the end, but he calls her his best friend, and I’m sure they kept in touch while away at college.

11. Bring it On (2000) Kirsten Dunst [and also its cousin Stick It (2006), which lampooned girl's gymnastics] Cheerleaders. Did you love them? Hate them? Were you one of them? This is a good film about doing the right thing, and healthy competition.

12. Mean Girls (2004) I dislike Lindsey Lohan. That said, this is so true-to-life, the social manipulation girls do to each other—a must-see for any mother and daughter prior to high school. [Sick and twisted cousins to this: Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999) and Jawbreaker (1999).] Features the charming Lacey Chabert, another Party of Five alum.

13. High School Musical (2006) I liked this better than Grease (1978). The cafeteria scene where they all break into song about the status quo – exactly. I was in our high school musical. This is the stuff that goes on in the background. Hmm…let's see, Galbraith, Buie, Willis…yeah, that's them.

Photos from IMDb