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Ten films that take you right back to being a teenager again

From 'Superbad' and all its nerdy glory to the high school politics of 'Mean Girls', Time Out has compiled ten teen movies to feel nostalgic about

By Time Out Film
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If you saw ‘Sing Street’ you’ll know how perfectly it captures the heart-lurching highs and soul-crushing lows of teenagerdom.

But what are the best teen movies? We asked the Time Out team which films reflected their adolescent experiences. After the longest, hardest collective cringe in human history this emerged – a list of the most authentic teen movies of all time.

RECOMMENDED: The best romantic teen movies

Ten teen movies, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, 2016
Photograph: Summit Entertainment

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Film Romance

Troubling family dynamics and extreme plot twists aside, this 2012 drama about quiet ‘wallflower’ Charlie (Logan Lerman) and his high-school experience is pretty honest about teenage friendships. When he makes friends with the cool, alternative Sam (Emma Watson) and her stepbrother Patrick (Ezra Miller), Charlie realises the power of relationships in all their forms, and just how changeable teenagers’ emotions can be. I’ve lived my fair share of friendship dramas, and this film is a touching reminder that they’re all part of growing up. (And that you won't give a shit about them ten years later.) Ashleigh Arnott, staff writer

Superbad (2007)

Film Comedy

Watching ‘Superbad’ is like watching a biopic of my sixth-form years – if the filmmakers had moved the action from the West Midlands to California. The two leads, Evan (Michael Cera) and Seth (Jonah Hill), are the kind of nerdy, beta-male guys who’ll flourish when they move away to university. Until then, they’re caught in that impossible no-man’s land where they’re no longer kids, but not quite old or self-assured enough to do what they want – namely, buy alcohol and charm girls. This film is utterly, totally, excruciatingly on-point. Matt Breen, staff writer

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House Party (1990)

Film Comedy

This film sums up everything I tried to be as a teenager – a neon-cycling-shorts-wearing fly girl with dope hair, who could kick your arse in a dance-off. In reality, I was a nerd with bad hair and second-hand jeans – but at least I had the moves. Catch me on the right day and I can still break out into the Kid ‘n Play battle dance. That’s how much I loved this film as a kid and why it’s still one of my favourite films today. Matilda Egere-Cooper, blog network manager

The Breakfast Club (1985)

Film

Being misunderstood by your peers, ignored by your parents and rejected by your school is precisely how I remember my teenage years. If only our school did a ‘Breakfast Club’ (aka Saturday detention), then perhaps I too could have bonded with my fellow reprobates, found ultimate acceptance and given Judd Nelson a hickey in a cupboard. I can’t even think of ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ (the closing title track by Simple Minds) without feeling a whole lot better about myself, even 30 years later. Sarah Peach, executive assistant

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Mean Girls (2004)

Film Comedy

While ‘Mean Girls’ feels like an obvious choice, the power play among the Plastics is a pretty accurate reflection of my 16-year-old struggle. I’m ashamed to admit that my teenage years were full of scheming and social climbing in a school that definitely had a clique problem. That moment where Gretchen rants ‘Two years ago Regina told me hoop earrings were *her* thing and I wasn't allowed to wear them anymore,’ rings painfully true. Kate Lloyd, senior staff writer

Heathers (1988)

Film Comedy

When I first watched ‘Heathers’ in my late teens it was a revelation. At last! A film that captured the real horrors of high school! Not that it’s remotely realistic. The story of four popular girls (one called Veronica, three called Heather) whose rule of the school is challenged by hot newcomer JD (Christian Slater) takes things to extremes (there’s a healthy dose of murder involved). But with its razor-sharp script and deliciously dark humour it skewers high-school politics like no other film. You’ll be quoting cutting one-liners like ‘Grow up Heather, bulimia’s so 1987’ forever more. Gail Tolley, features editor

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Ghost World (2001)

Film Comedy

When it comes to teen movies, as far as I’m concerned, ‘Ghost World’ has it all. It’s a perfect (and perfectly weird) portrait of female friendship. It explores what happens when two teenage girls get bored seen through the eyes of its super-smart, brilliantly stroppy protagonists, played by Thora Birch and a young Scarlett Johansson. Birch’s character Enid possesses the world’s best wardrobe and hair, and demonstrates peerless mastery of the art of the sarcastic put-down. This is so well observed it hurts. Flo Wales Bonner, international content producer

La Haine (1995)

Film Comedy

Sure, as teenagers in suburban Birmingham, my friends and I didn't wake up to Bob Marley-soundtracked riots on the streets. But we were bored, we were angry, we loved music and, man, did we love smoking weed. So many moments in ‘La Haine’ showed what we were already up to (or inspired us to replicate them). As angry young men who loved skating, smoking, DJing and partying, we related to everything those guys went through on their night-time mission across Paris. Plus, the sense of boredom, angst and powerlessness that pervades the film is universal to any group of young guys, in any city, in any social group, anywhere in the world. Jonathan Cook, UK senior digital content producer

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Dead Poets Society (1989)

Film

I didn’t grow up in the 1950s, I didn’t grow up in America and I sure as hell didn’t go to private school, but this movie broke my 13-year-old heart anyway. It’s a film about extreme adolescent emotions – the giddy joy of creative discovery, the intensity of friendship and romantic love, the horror of isolation and outsider-hood, and ultimately despair so deep it leads to suicide. Sure, Robin Williams’s performance pushes a little too hard on the button marked ‘feel things!’ but you forgive him because he’s Robin Williams. O Captain, my Captain! Tom Huddleston, assistant film editor

Weird Science (1985)

Film Science fiction

The party in ‘Weird Science’ always reminds me of an out-of-control party I went to in sixth form. A new girl came to school (alas, she wasn't Kelly LeBrock) and threw a bash at her parents’ pad in a plush part of town. While it didn’t get gate-crashed by a psychotic motorbike gang, it did have a pub’s worth of uninvited guests who took it upon themselves to get stoned, cook food and paint the walls (using pasta sauce), with messages like: ‘We’re fucked, help us!’ The house was absolutely trashed, and weirdly reminiscent of the movie (minus the nukes). Mark O’Donnell, digital content editor

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