Movies about youth & rebellion: The 50 best youth-gone-wild films

Piss off your parents with our countdown of the most ferociously fun movies about youth and rebellion.

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Even the most helicoptering Brentwood parent will admit that some children, adorable though they are, must simply be born bad. Not their children, of course. But these other barbaric youngsters—rebellious, foul-mouthed, sometimes just pure evil—always make it to movie screens, from James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause to the NYC hellspawn of Kids (and all manner of demonically possessed tykes in between). Time Out has collected the most shocking of these movies about youth and rebellion and ranked them in a countdown of atrocious behavior. Our only parameter: They must be teens and younger, not twentysomethings. Thankfully for all audiences, these wayward children make the rest of us look good.


50
Youth-gone-wild movies: Footloose (1984)

Footloose (1984)

We’ve got plenty of irresponsibility in store, but let’s begin our list with the gentle, denim-clad rebellion of kicking off your Sunday shoes and dancing to Kenny Loggins. Religious elders are infuriated by all the rock & roll strutting, but everybody comes several degrees closer to Kevin Bacon by film’s end.—Joshua Rothkopf


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49
Youth-gone-wild movies: The Hunger Games (2012)

The Hunger Games (2012)

As winning as Jennifer Lawrence is with that bow and arrow, remember that this movie is about kids fighting a gladiatorial battle to the death. Stabbings, slicings and cliquish pack hunting are the activities of a futuristic breed of youth, so desperate for survival that common mercy falls by the wayside.—Joshua Rothkopf


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48
Youth-gone-wild movies: Rumble Fish (1983)

Rumble Fish (1983)

Francis Ford Coppola’s dreamy b&w teen drama centers on a pair of delinquent brothers (Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke) for whom knife fights and motorcycle riding are the norm. Makes perfect sense, considering their dad is played by easy rider Dennis Hopper.—Keith Uhlich


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47
Youth-gone-wild movies: The Ring (2002)

The Ring (2002)

The 1998 Japanese original triggered a wave of evil-technology movies—this was the one about a haunted videocassette that kills you. When Hollywood got around to its unusually excellent remake, the true villain was in our face: ropy-haired Samara (Daveigh Chase), an abused child drowned in a well, intent on ghostly revenge.—Joshua Rothkopf


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46
Youth-gone-wild movies: Dead End (1937)

Dead End (1937)

The famous fictional gang the Dead End Kids had their first outing in a 1934 stage play, but it was William Wyler’s film version that turned them into the standard-bearers for screen delinquents, whatever names they’d go by over the years (the Bowery Boys, the Little Tough Guys).—David Fear


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45
Youth-gone-wild movies: Pretty Poison (1968)

Pretty Poison (1968)

Given his onscreen past, you’d be forgiven for thinking Anthony Perkins’s mental-institution parolee was this comic thriller’s psycho protagonist. But the real crazy turns out to be Tuesday Weld’s beaming high-schooler, who manipulates her fragile new friend to achieve shockingly murderous goals.—Keith Uhlich


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44
Youth-gone-wild movies: Cruel Story of Youth (1960)

Cruel Story of Youth (1960)

Nagisa Oshima referred to his second feature as a story about teens “as the victims of contradictions” in postwar Japan. The more the film’s young-punk lovers rob and extort the local middle-aged men, the stronger the film’s conceit that criminal behavior is a flipped bird to society.—David Fear

43
Youth-gone-wild movies: The Good Son (1993)

The Good Son (1993)

Macaulay Culkin’s head-conking Home Alone antics were just a warm-up: In this memorably vicious boy-gone-bad thriller, America’s favorite child star goes full lunatic, growling at an attack dog, nonchalantly causing a freeway pileup and making life hell for future Frodo Elijah Wood.—Keith Uhlich


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42
Youth-gone-wild movies: Wild Boys of the Road (1933)

Wild Boys of the Road (1933)

Not content to simply belch out a typical Warner Bros. social drama, William A. Wellman went the extra mile with this landmark tale of Depression kids who take up the hobo life—and didn’t flinch from showing these tough youngsters losing limbs, stealing food, and mixing it up with railroad cops and everyday citizens.—David Fear


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41
Youth-gone-wild movies: Benny’s Video (1992)

Benny’s Video (1992)

Long before Michael Haneke concocted the ultimate naughty-little-fascists tale, The White Ribbon (2009), the Austrian filmmaker made this movie about a 14-year-old who murders another kid—and films the whole thing for posterity. Haneke’s clinical take on how media desensitization creates underage monsters makes this torn-from-the-headlines drama that much more disturbing.—David Fear



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