Monday, July 11, 2011

Teenage Wasteland

Over the weekend, we watched Election, which I'd seen before, but Lucia hadn't. When it was over, she said she had a sudden desire to watch a lot of "teenage" movies, and I know how she felt. Watching a movie in a narrow category often makes me want to do a marathon of similar movies, to see how they compare. Childhood, teenage, high school, and college movies -- they all sort of overlap -- are especially interesting because the genre's been around for more than half a century and that gives you the opportunity to see how visions of childhood and adolescence change and stay the same over time.

I need a list of movies I'd like to see.

Not surprisingly, Google turns up lots of lists of the best school movies ever made. I started with Rotten Tomatoes' list of the Top 25:

1. The 400 Blows
2. Let The Right One In
3. Good Will Hunting
4. Entre le Murs
5. Dazed and Confused
6. If...
7. An Education
8. Heathers
9. Au Revoir Les Enfants
10. Election
11. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban
12. The Freshman
13. School of Rock
14. Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
15. Carrie
16.Half Nelson
17. Animal House
18. To Sir With Love
19. The Breakfast Club
20. Rushmore
21. Hoosiers
22. Notes On A Scandal
23. Starter For 10
24. Dead Poet's Society
25. Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince

I bold-faced the ones I've actually seen, and italicized the ones I've never even heard of. I realize "best of" lists are kind of weird, and often designed to provoke controversy, but this one seems very strange to me. I loved To Sir With Love when I was a teenager, but I saw it again recently and didn't think it held up well at all. On the other hand, how do you make a list of school movies without including the original school movie: Blackboard Jungle? To be fair, I haven't seen it in years, and don't know how well it holds up. But I don't understand a school movie list that includes To Sir With Love and not Blackboard Jungle. And does the other grandfather of all teenage movies -- Rebel Without A Cause -- count as a school movie? I don't remember much if any of it taking place in a school, so I won't argue that it should be on there, but it's definitely one of the more interesting movies about teenagers.

And maybe it's just a baby boomer thing, but where's American Graffiti?

Then there's the weirdest (to me) omission: No Ferris Bueller? Can anyone explain that? Anyone? Anyone?

I need a new list.

Entertainment Weekly did a list of 50, which throws in Rebel Without a Cause at number 4, American Graffiti at number 6, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off at number 10. This looks like a much more promising list, so here it is, taking out the already mentioned, the overlaps, and the ones that seemed like completely idiotic choices (inevitable in a long list). Once again, I bold-faced the ones I've seen:

2. Fast Times At Ridgemont High
7. Clueless
8. Boys N The Hood
11. Say Anything...
12. Mean Girls
13. High School
14. Donnie Darko
16. Lucas
17. Peggy Sue Got Married
18.Rock 'n' Roll High School
19. The Last Picture Show
21. Grease
23. Cooley High
26. Pretty In Pink
28. Back To The Future
29. Gregory's Girl
31. The Karate Kid
33. Hoop Dreams
35. Brick
37. Friday Night Lights
38. Bye Bye Birdie
39. The Virgin Suicides
40 Risky Business
42. Fame
43. Stand and Deliver
45. My Bodyguard
46. Flirting
49. Sixteen Candles
50. Splender In The Grass

It was especially interesting to see Frederick Wiseman's 1968 documentary High School on there. That would be really fascinating to see again, but the hard part is finding a copy.

So the list is interesting, but overstuffed, and it still includes To Sir With Love but not Blackboard Jungle.

I really need a list that includes Blackboard Jungle.

Thank you, Newsweek. Although, honestly, you lose points for including High School Musical.

Next step: Make a list of teenage/school movies I'd like to watch or re-watch.



Lucia said...

The Virgin Suicides was good, but I have a feeling it's one of those movies that gets better the more you watch it. It's visually very interesting due to the lighting and color.

When I think of "teenage movies" I automatically think anything by John Hughes, which is funny, because that isn't my generation.

I would like to watch Clueless again (Fact: Alicia Silverstone is a vegan!) partly because I don't think I've ever seen it start to finish.

It's funny that High School Musical was included on the Newsweek list because, honestly, I don't really consider it geared to teenagers but rather teeny-boppers. My bedroom was decked out in Zac Efron posters when I was eleven, but I've long since took them down.

Linda said...

Are there other John Hughes movies that aren't on the lists that you'd like to see?

I"d be fine with Virgin Suicides and Clueless.

I've always meant to watch 400 Blows and Au Revoir, Les Enfants, and although I'd never heard of the other French movie on the list Entre les Murs, it sounds like it would be interesting.

The second movie -- Let The Right One In -- sounds potentially interesting, but I'm a little wary of violence. I rarely like violent movies.

I'd kind of like to see If... and Fame, again, to see how they hold up.


Rebel Without A Cause and Blackboard Jungle are essential...if for no other reason than to put what came after them in context.