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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Youth-gone-wild movies: High School Confidential! (1958)

High School Confidential! (1958)

New-kid-in-class Russ Tamblyn has been on campus for only a few days, yet he’s already taken over the school’s greaser gang and hooked up with the local dope pushers. A hyperventilating cautionary tale, this exploitation classic imagines a student body beset by the evils of “Mary Jane,” rock & roll and beatnik poetry slams.—David Fear

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Youth-gone-wild movies: Kick-Ass (2010)

Kick-Ass (2010)

Most superheroes have a tinge of arrested development to them, with their tights and jumping around and stuff. But this comics-based action movie makes that connection uncomfortably explicit with the character of Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz), a foulmouthed 11-year-old who gleefully wastes henchmen with the best of them.—Joshua Rothkopf


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38
Youth-gone-wild movies: Boyz n the Hood (1991)

Boyz n the Hood (1991)

John Singleton’s feature debut dives headfirst into South Central L.A.’s ghetto culture, as best friends Ice Cube and Cuba Gooding Jr. are tempted by the neighborhood’s seedier aspects. Drug deals and drive-bys are the norm—and once one of them goes down the wrong path, you find out how truly unforgiving the streets are.—Keith Uhlich


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37
Youth-gone-wild movies: Poison Ivy (1992)

Poison Ivy (1992)

Beloved by trash connoisseurs, this late-night-cable perennial (actually a Sundance competition film when it debuted) stars Drew Barrymore, still in her little-girl-lost phase, as a scheming teen who insinuates herself in a well-to-do family. First, Ivy befriends the dowdy daughter, then seduces dad Tom Skerritt with foot-to-crotch forwardness.—Joshua Rothkopf


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36
Youth-gone-wild movies: Margaret (2011)

Margaret (2011)

Already going through the usual adolescent trials, Upper West Side teenager Lisa Cohen (Anna Paquin) becomes even more screechily self-righteous after witnessing a horrifying bus accident for which she may bear some responsibility. This emotional drama from Kenneth Lonergan is a sharp-eyed portrait of a juvenile convinced that her bad behavior is the only way to make things right.—Keith Uhlich


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35
Youth-gone-wild movies: Christiane F. (1981)

Christiane F. (1981)

What’s a dour West Berlin 12-year-old to do, in all her fashionable ennui, but start going to nightclubs, become a raging heroin addict and fall into the sex trade? A cult movie of frightening honesty (and with a David Bowie cameo, playing himself), this drama pays unflinching attention to the paraphernalia of needles, scarring and bodily waste.—Joshua Rothkopf


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34
Youth-gone-wild movies: Foxes (1980)

Foxes (1980)

Girls just wanna have fun—which, according to Adrian Lyne’s coming-of-age time capsule, means lots of drinking, drugs, casual sex and hanging out with skateboarding vandals. Thanks to the cast (including Jodie Foster, Runaways singer Cherie Currie and Scott Baio), there’s a sense of camaraderie that makes all the late-’70s bad behavior a bit more palatable.—David Fear


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33
Youth-gone-wild movies: West Side Story (1961)

West Side Story (1961)

Rival teenage street gangs go head-to-head in Manhattan, hurling insults, slashing switchblades, and…singing songs! This epic film version of the massively influential Broadway musical meshes dance and destruction with heartrending mastery.—Keith Uhlich



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32
Youth-gone-wild movies: Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1982)

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1982)

Rarely do punk movies get it as right as this snarling, spiteful satire, written by an Oscar-winning screenwriter (Coming Home’s Nancy Dowd) and injected with real rock attitude. Holding central court like a female Johnny Rotten, skunk-mopped Diane Lane “never puts out,” but does steal songs, attacking with her nails bared.—Joshua Rothkopf


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31
Youth-gone-wild movies: Reefer Madness (1936)

Reefer Madness (1936)

This ridiculously campy antidrug movie has now become a stoner-cinema classic (you can practically hear the toked-up giggling after every line), largely due to the idea that the devil’s weed will turn good kids into hellions. Watch as clean-cut students take a single puff and instantly turn into rapists with a penchant for cavorting with sleazeballs and [Gasp] spastically dancing to jazz!—David Fear


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Users say

26 comments
awesome one
awesome one

Where's dazed and confused man. The drugs and celebration of school ending deserves to be on the list

awesome one
awesome one

Where's dazed and confused man. The drugs and celebration of school ending deserves to be on the list

marleigh
marleigh

Why is the Hunger Games on this? KIDS should be number one simply because the kids actually were getting high and drunk on set.

Samit
Samit

La Haine is an excellent movie that is abandoned by the list!

zydecowboy
zydecowboy

my moneys on project x or rivers edge

Frenchseashell
Frenchseashell

WHAAAT!!! Why is "The Wild One" not on this list? One of the greatest movie about youth and alienation next to "Rebel Without A Cause." Who can forget the scene with Johnny riding his bike in the park with Kathie hanging tight, accompanied by the most haunting score in movie history? I get goose bumps just thinking about it. These two movies defined my generation (the 50's). The "cycles", the black and red jackets, the anguish, the desperation, the music, the dialogue, and so much more. I still watch them since they're both on my DVD shelf and I'm 74 years old! You're missing something if you haven't seen it.

Sal C
Sal C

Risky Business, of course! What about The Mighty, Super Bad, Alpha Dog, Stand By Me and Lost Boys!

J.D.
J.D.

They left off the best ones, of course. Pump Up the Volume! Dead Poet's Society! And why not Risky Business?

Pedro
Pedro

Really?! It took three people to come up with this list? Each of them is only one third of the moron that could have written this list. Of the first nine two are not at all about youth gone wild. Hunger Games the kids are forced to do what they do, and the Ring, really. How is that about youth gone wild? The Omen and the Exorcist being about possession. How is that youth gone wild? Time out new york should can or at least proof read articles from these three. I'm sorry, but this is just about the stupidest movie list I have ever read.

Zach sutton
Zach sutton

Where is Donnie Darko or Ferris Bueller?

chris
chris

CITY OF GOD....

Meg
Meg

DAZED AND CONFUSED?????

andrew
andrew

umm...how can thirteen now be on this list?

sweeneyrules
sweeneyrules

I didn't see it on the list, but I assumed City of God would be number one.

Clint
Clint

The Belles of St. Trinians! The kind of girl gone wild I'd actually like to be.

spassky
spassky

That's a nice top 10. Though thought it should have had "Compulsion"...?

Philip
Philip

uh, Quadrophenia? Kids? The Stray Cat Rock series? I could go on and on. This list kind of sucks. How are horror movies like the Omen and the Exorcist and the Good Son even considered "youth gone wild" movies?

Michael
Michael

Mean Creek should be on here. FANTASTIC film!

Mike
Mike

Did I miss Dazed and Confused?

Doe
Doe

virgin suicides should have been on there somewhere as well.

Duder NME
Duder NME

Breaking Away Hey Good Lookin Stand By Me American Graffiti Ferris Bueller's Day Off Trainspotting (though that was more about early twenty-somethings) SLC Punk Once Upon a Time in America (half the film counts)

Mabel Leaf
Mabel Leaf

Where the Day Takes You would have been a good addition to this list

g.m.
g.m.

Badlands?

Marcus
Marcus

Larry Clark's Bully should've been on this.. but nice list!

SGR
SGR

Where is Rushmore?

Edward Copeland
Edward Copeland

You included most of the great ones in there but some of those titles, while fitting the subject matter, were just plain mediocre or worse. Perhaps you would have had stronger list if you stuck to 25 so lame junk such as Poison Ivy and The Good Son wouldn't have to be in there. The one film whose absence is most notable is Menace II Society, which remains strong today and underlines the weaknesses inherent in Boyz N the Hood.