My Favourite Teen Movies: Part 1 – the 1990s
Although the 1980s is largely considered the decade that spawned the some of the most iconic teen movies (and popularised that magnificent beast that is the teen movie soundtrack – for which I am forever grateful); I have a lot of fondness for the movies that were released in the 1990s and 2000s (even though the ‘golden age’ of the teen movie was by this point starting to wane).
Don’t get me wrong, I also loved a lot of 1980s movies (John Hughes films were my bread and butter in my early teen years and my favourite film for a very long time was Dead Poets Society, which was also released in the 1980s albeit set in the 1950s) but I probably related best to the films released around the mid 1990s and early 2000s because that was when I was a teenager myself (yep, I’m old haha!) and continued to love them well into my early 20s and beyond.
I got the idea to write a post about my favourite teen films from each decade. You may have noticed that I have been posting rather sporadically for the last wee while so I felt like a bit of a shake up was necessary. I am still primarily going to be talking about books (because that is still my passion) but you might see a bit more about various other interests of mine such as movies, television, gaming and so on. I’m just trying to get the creativity flowing again to get me out of this blogging slump (which I realised I had actually been in for a few years now, on and off…)
I was originally going to omit teen horror films because they are a subgenre in their own right… but this means I’d have to leave out Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Craft, and The Faculty (all of which kind of straddle the teen horror genre) which I just couldn’t do. I am also only counting movies I saw during the decade they were released – not ones I caught up with later on.
I had originally meant to do one post but I ended up adding so many movies for both decades it was getting way too wordy so I decided to split it into two parts. The first part covers the 1990s.
1. Empire Records (1995)
I must have watched this movie like a million times! Back in the day, I rented this VHS(!!) so many times from my local library I could have bought it 100 times over (of course, this was back when it took ages for movies to be released on Home Video – you literally could wait years!) I eventually secured my own copy but man, there was nothing quite like getting a rental and cramming in as many watches as you could before it had to be returned!
I used to have serious envy of the teens in this film – I wanted to work in a music shop and have super angsty hijinks! I also used to have a serious crush on Lucas (played by Rory Cochrane). Good times!
2. Dazed and Confused (1993)
My boyfriend introduced me to this film and it was glorious! This wasn’t a huge hit on release but became a bit of a cult classic. We used to watch it frequently whenever we decided to have a chilled drink in the house. It is, for sure, one of the most quotable entries on this list (and also stars Rory Cochrane, incidentally…) 😉
3. Clueless (1995)
A absolute masterclass of a teen film. Loosely based on Jane Austen’s Emma, it’s a timeless film that is still as fresh today as it was back in the 1990s. It is a film I’ve returned to time and time again.
4. Cruel Intentions (1999)
A modern adaptation of Dangerous Liaisons, this film was a little bit of everything and was one of my favourites. The story worked really well in a modern setting and it’s still worth a watch.
5. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
I really love this little gem of a film. Starring the ever-charismatic Heath Ledger, this was a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and it is still stands the test of time. Just a genuinely well-crafted teen flick.
6. Pump Up the Volume (1990)
Lordy, but I loved this film back in the day. It is a little dated now (and the story is angsty almost to the point of silliness) but I still have such fond memories of this film I can overlook its flaws.
7. Can’t Hardly Wait (1998)
Not a masterpiece of cinema by any stretch, this is just such a fun time I had to include it on this list. Funny, irreverent, with a great cast of people (most of whom have become pretty well-known) it’s just a feel-good movie.
8. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
The precursor to the (vastly) superior television show of the same name; I loved this silly, campy movie so much as a tween. It was probably my most rented movie after Empire Records haha!
9. Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (1991)
A teen movie that was sweet but with a subversive bite to it! I love when black humour is added to the mix (Heathers, for example, is one of my favourite films) and this movie delivered that but also had a lot of heart.
10. Hackers (1995)
This is a silly little caper movie that is completely unrealistic but I adored it anyway! I also rented this one a fair few times (I was sold because it had Jonny Lee Miller in it whom I knew from Trainspotting!)
11. Mallrats (1995)
The second Kevin Smith outing, this one remains my favourite (well, I have a soft spot for Dogma as well). I’m not sure I got most of the humour as a teen but it is very rewatchable and I find more to enjoy each time.
12. School Ties (1992)
I loved this boarding school film about a Jewish boy (played by the awesome Brendan Fraser) who is recruited to be the new quarterback in a posh boy’s school. A virtual who’s who of future famous stars , this is actually a great film and it holds up well.
13. She’s All That (1999)
A slightly hokey premise but still a pretty good little teen flick. The tropes come hard and fast (unpopular girl takes off her glasses and boom! she’s a secret hottie!) but it’s so charming it overcomes its flaws.
14. The Craft (1996)
I love this movie about teen witches so much! It was very much my cup of tea back when it was released (I was a bit of a goth back then haha!) and I still love it to this day (actually, a re-watch may be in order…) 🤔
15. The Faculty (1998)
This was a corker of a film – I remember going to see it with pals when it was released and coming out of the cinema nursing a huge crush on Josh Hartnett! I haven’t watched it in a few years but I always enjoying revisiting this movie.
16. Disturbing Behavior (1998)
This one isn’t all that well-known but it is definitely one that made a lasting impression on me! Starring James Marsden and Katie Holmes (circa her Dawson Creek years!) it’s like a teenage version of The Stepford Wives and is actually quite thought-provoking at times.
17. American Pie (1999)
This one is more of a nostalgia choice because this was the first film my other half and I went to see at the cinema after becoming a couple! It has definitely got its detractors (and hey, I totally get most of the criticisms) not to mention an abundance of sequels of diminishing quality but it’s still a perfectly enjoyable film for what it is…
18. Never Been Kissed (1999)
I love this film and thought it was the cutest thing ever when I first watched it all those years ago! Yes, looking back there are some majorly unsettling plot points (like the teacher who catches feelings for the undercover reporter not knowing she isn’t a teenager, the 25 year old brother going to prom with a 15 year old girl) so that colours my enjoyment of it nowadays but still it was a very charming film.
19. Scream (1996)
Scream was the 1990s equivalent of Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street (also directed by Wes Craven). A horror film than wriggled its way out of the niche market and into popular culture. It’s still relevant and influential (as the many sequels prove).
20. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
This is a funny one because the book this film is based on is very different (the author – Lois Duncan – was reportedly horrified by the changes made that turned it from a psychological thriller into a hack and slash horror-fest) but I enjoyed it for what it was.
Phew, that was a lot of films to get through! Part 2 (which covers teen films from the 2000s) will be up soon so keep an eye out for more of me talking up my favourite teen films from that decade!
You just reminded me of so many thinsg I need to rewatch!
10 Things I Hate About You really grew on me. I didn’t care for it when I was a teen but anymore I’ve discovered that I really actually like it. 🙂
Oh man, once again so many incredible movies on this list. A couple I’ve never watched before but a lot I love so much. These lists are making me want to go and do a rewatch of all these films.