Classic Teen Movies That Portray Growing Up Exactly Right

Teen movies can seem a little far-fetched. For instance, in real life most teens are not played by 29-year-olds. But some teen movies just nail what it feels like to grow up as a sex-crazed, outcast, confused guy. Here are films that portray it with total accuracy.

“American Pie”

American Pie Sex

American Pie” feels so genuine, down to the fact that Eugene Levy would be the best dad ever. But it also demonstrates the lengths to which a guy will go for sex. Poor Jim is humiliated time and again, all in the name of trying to get his rocks off. OK, most of us never banged a pastry, but if you can get through adolescence without romantic embarrassment — no matter whether that romance is with a dessert — then you’re luckier than most of us.

“Dazed & Confused”

Dazed and confused

Dazed And Confused” is basically a movie about a bunch of guys trying to find something to do at night in the 1970s. That’s true for any year. To paraphrase Matthew McConaughey, high schoolers stay the same age — you and your friends weren’t the first young people in history; your parents were once just like you. Picture that! Then stop picturing it, and immediately go throw up.

“Weird Science”

Weird-Science small

In “Weird Science,” two nerds use cutting-edge 1980s computer technology to create a perfect female specimen. Seems far-fetched, right? Well, yes, because nobody’s perfect, including you. That’s a lesson you’ve gotta learn in high school, or else you might never learn it at all, chasing a mythical “10” when you could be dating an awesome “7,” “8” or “9.”

“16 Candles”

16 Candles

Besides basically inventing the 1980s Friend Zone, “16 Candles” also proved that all you need is a pair of underwear to convince your friends that you totally did it. Someday, you’ll learn that the best stories are the ones you couldn’t make up even if you tried.

“10 Things I Hate About You”

10 Things I Hate

In “10 Things I Hate About You,” Heath Ledger sings to Julia Stiles in front of the whole school in order to make her fall in love with him. He inspired a million lovelorn teen boys to make big public displays of love, and also proved you have to be a little bit crazy to get what you want. (Like control of Gotham.)

Such a stunt is high-risk, high-reward — you could easily embarrass yourself (and the girl you like) in front of everybody, who’ll make fun of you for years afterward…but do you want to spend the rest of your life wondering, “What if?”

“The Breakfast Club”

Breakfast club

The Breakfast Club” teaches that a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, and a princess, and a criminal can all be besties. And it’s true: In-groups matter a lot less after high school, and some of your closest friends will be totally different than you. If one of them looks like Molly Ringwald, all the better.

“The Karate Kid”

Karate Kid

Daniel-san learns you don’t ignore your bully — you find a wise but ornery mentor to help you defeat him in the final match of a conveniently-scheduled local martial arts tournament. And if that’s not possible, then at least stand up for yourself, because otherwise he’ll never stop…just try to not get expelled or arrested for assault, all right?

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”

Ferris Bueller

Ferris learned a lot of lessons, but the thing this movie most accurately predicted? A quarter-century later, Charlie Sheen would have some, uh, “issues” to work out.

Photo Credits: Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Buena Vista Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Gramercy Pictures

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Evan Scott Schwartz (@TheEvanSchwartz) is a writer from New York City.