Maggie Carey’s The To Do List hits theaters this Friday, and while we weren’t especially hot on the film, the teen comedy genre is filled with classics worth revisiting. In keeping with the age-old traditions of the internet, here’s a list of nine of our favorite teen comedies in no particular order (feel free to tell us how wrong or right we are in the comments below):
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
This was my favorite movie for a long time, and my love for this film was actually so pervasive that I got a custom license plate that said “DAY OFF” to honor the adventures of one of my cinematic heroes. John Hughes’ best film is one of those rare pieces of entertainment in which everything works perfectly, and every element from the performances to the script to the music makes it an iconic piece of art that has and will continue to stand the test of time.
Can’t Hardly Wait (1998)
Dumber than many of the movies on this list (remember Seth Green’s white boy gangster wanna-be character?), Can’t Hardly Wait still does a good job of capturing that distinctly teenage feeling of simultaneously celebrating and dreading the end of high school. Ethan Embry finally gets his shot to show off his love to the school’s most gorgeous girl (Jennifer Love Hewitt), and Charlie Korsmo goes from nerd to rock star with his rendition of Guns ‘N Roses’ “Paradise City” at one of those classic high school house parties that only happen in the movies.
Though Seth Rogen, Michael Cera, and Jonah Hill were working long before this movie came out, this was the project that changed everything. The film’s massive success led many Hollywood-types to try to recreate the lightning in a bottle that came from a fantastic script (which Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg had been writing for so long, they were originally going to play the lead roles) and just the right amount of heart and vulgarity. Much to his presumed chagrin, Christopher Mintz-Plasse will forever be known as McLovin’ to a large portion of the population.
The First Time (2012)
Almost no one has seen this movie, but it’s one of those undiscovered gems I caught at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival that I’m shocked didn’t go on to become a breakout hit. Britt Robertson (who just snagged the lead in Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland) is wonderful, and the film deals with sex in a mature, realistic way instead of treating its characters like they’re morons just because they’re young. This one comes highly recommended, and it’s pretty funny, too.
The Way, Way Back (2013)
We called Jim Rash and Nat Faxon’s directorial debut “the perfect summer movie” in our review earlier this year, and thanks to Sam Rockwell’s brilliant supporting turn as the fast-talking owner of a water park where the main teen character Duncan comes of age, it’ll likely end up being one of my favorite movies of this year. It gets a bit heavy at times dealing with some relationship drama between Duncan’s mom (Toni Collette) and her jerk boyfriend (a wonderfully hateable Steve Carell), but the ups far supersede the downs in this one.
The Girl Next Door (2004)
An underappreciated teen comedy if there ever was one, The Girl Next Door was brushed off by many due to its salacious themes and content. But even though this one involves a romance between a high school student and a porn star who moves in next door, there’s actually a great message buried in there. Plus, Elisha Cuthbert and Emile Hirsch have some great chemistry, and “Justified” star Timothy Olyphant is a total sleazebag in it (in a good way). This juice is most definitely worth the squeeze.
The Kings of Summer (2013)
Another awesome coming-of-age comedy, this one ditches the high school environment in favor of the three leads building a literal cabin in the woods in an effort to escape their problems. There’s some solid heart to be found here (a prevailing theme within this genre), and some hilarious comedy from Moises Arias, who plays the delightfully bizarre Biaggio. If you haven’t seen this one yet, seek it out.
The Spectacular Now (2013)
This one hasn’t even hit theaters yet, but I saw it at Sundance earlier this year and it shocked me with how good it was. It has a natural romantic angle between the stunningly good lead actors Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller, a good blend of comedy and drama, and it delves into the serious issue of alcoholism in a way that isn’t cartoonish or melodramatic. This isn’t just a great teen comedy – it’s a great movie, period.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
An absolute must-see for fans of the genre, Fast Times paved the way for a ton of the films that followed. Those who don’t care for Sean Penn’s more serious roles will surely be won over by his loveable surfer stoner Jeff Spicoli, and the way the story spans multiple storylines and covers tons of different elements of the high school experience allow for almost everyone to find a little of themselves in one of the myriad characters and situations. This is another one that gets a little dark, but the fact that it wasn’t afraid to tackle topics like abortion and then follow with hilarious and lighthearted scenes is a testament to Cameron Crowe, the writer who penned the script and went on to write and direct Almost Famous (which, coincidentally, is another great teen film).
What are some of your own favorite teen comedies? Sound off below and let us know.
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