Eight Films That Represent Adolescence Extremely Well


Plenty of movies contain adolescents.  Hell even High School Musical is a movie about kids in high school, relationships, and singing to your heart’s content.  But just because a movie has teenagers in it doesn’t mean that it covers adolescence accurately. While there are tons of movies out there that explore teen issues,  it doesn’t necessarily mean that these are “real” issues that many adolescents face. I felt that the eight films below all represent adolescence very well.  And they each brought a unique perspective to a given time era.

Stand By Me

Stand by Me

Let’s face it.  It doesn’t get much more real than this movie.  While the story line is extremely potent, there are tons of elements that are explored that are staples in adolescent/pubescent males.  You’ve got talks about girls, fears of losing friends in high school, college, annoying older brothers, imaginative stories, great culture, cars.  And let’s face it, you don’t go searching for a dead body when you’re 16.  You do it when you’re their age.  Just a great flick.

Almost Famous

Almost Famous

While William Miller was smart for his age, you still can’t deny that the movie clearly explored the issues of “growing up” quite well.  Being on the road with a band clearly showed that Miller didn’t fit in.  And quite honestly he couldn’t handle it.  And even his love interest (Kate Hudson) wasn’t mature enough to understand love as an adult.  From losing one’s virginity to succumbing to the pressures of growing up, it’s a great adolescent movie.

The Breakfast Club

Breakfast Club

Come on.  Do I even need to talk about this one?  “Did I stutter?”  Drug use, to loneliness, parents that piss you off, pressure from coaches, academia, weirdness, conformity, teen angst, rebellion,  This movie covers it all.   One of the most classic high school movies of all time.

Dazed and Confused


Put it this way.  I didn’t live in 70s Texas but something tells me this is about as accurate as it can get.  And talk about adolescence.  Teenagers worried about their future, angry at the present (obviously the 70s suck), counting their beers, going after older chicks, committing petty crimes that in reality are pretty major, and of course cheating on your girlfriend.  Oh yeah, and weed.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High


Never did a movie explore the sexual side of adolescence in such a real way until Fast times hit the scene.   It was considered highly controversial because of the nudity but let’s face it.  It was and still is the reality of what went on in high school back in the 80s (and now, it’s just that now kids do drugs at like 12).



Speaking of kids doing drugs at a young age.   And talk about peer pressure.  This is a messed up movie but damn if it’s not realistic.

Brighton Beach Memoirs


One of the few movies that actually covered adolescence in an earlier era quite well.  Eugene is obsessed with chicks.  The entire movie he’s obsessed and his brother finally tells him about masturbation.  “Did you ever diddle with yourself?”  What a classic scene.  Also dealing with pressures of war at a young age.  That hadn’t really been done in a movie before.  If only to watch Silverman as Eugene, it’s classic.



Amy Heckerling was at it again with this movie.  First she directs Fast Times, and then comes out with Clueless which was an awesome depiction of California Teenage culture.  From the way kids spoke to the way they interacted, Clueless hit the adolescence button right on the mark.

* I would add movies like Boyz in the Hood and Menace II Society (because those are realistic as well) but those guys are a little older than the characters in the movies above.

  • Madison

    Nice list – I can watch Stand By Me anytime it’s on. Classic, and always reminds me of my childhood.

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  • Lagrange

    Thirteen really flashed me, when the color came back in the ned. I was totally amazed.
    And in Almost Famous was the movie where he lost his virginity with 3 girls at once, right?

  • Cheryl

    I dunno if it represents well or I just want to say it because it’s my favorite but 10 Things I hate About You? Ok, take out the singing part but I think it did a good job.

    P.S when Clueless came out I wanted my life to be like Cher’s soooo bad!

  • ComfortableMadness

    Good list. Great call on Stand By Me. I think Stephen King really gets the growing up thing. Even in the surreal scenario in The Long Walk he still manages to represent adolescence to a T.

  • CNA

    Now & Then.

  • Gill

    The little-known comedy “The Sasquatch Gang” sums up more of my adolescence than I’d care to admit. If you haven’t seen this, you should totally look it up. Justin Long and Joey Kern are particularly hilarious, and it’s nice to see Justin Long playing someone other than a loveable nerd or the Mac guy.

  • “Can’t Hardly Wait”, “American Pie” & “Superbad” pretty much sum up my adolescent years: trying to get booze, weed, & laid with varied amount of success.

    Getting weed always, always, was the easiest of the three.

  • j.hill

    Bueller, Bueller? Anyone? Bueller?

    Forgot the one movie that did it the best…

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  • Crimson

    Pump Up the Volume….Definitely my adolescence.

  • mcpenywise

    I’m surprised “Kids” wasn’t on here. That movie was one of the truest pictures of teen adolescence and lack of concience that I have ever seen.

  • Ashweee

    I have to say I was really gonna be disappointed if Thirteen wasn’t on there. Having been a teenage girl and put my family through hell, this movie is messed up, but definitely not far off.

    I was glad to see Clueless on here too, didn’t think about it but it fits. and yeah, I think every girl wanted their life to be like hers after they watched that movie.