The movies have conveyed adolescent rebellion and anomie from the very beginning, but the subject began to come into its own with Nicholas Ray’s 1955 classic “Rebel Without a Cause,” in which James Dean plays the ultimate troubled teen. In recent years, John Hughes has mined that coming-of-age territory with the likes of “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink,” while the genre has been updated by current movies like “The Way, Way Back,” “The Spectacular Now” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”
Here’s a Top 10 list of Streampix’s top teenage wasteland flicks:
“The Breakfast Club”: John Hughes’ 1985 movie about five high-school kids who unburden themselves in a detention hall one Saturday remains a classic of its type, introducing the careers of the infamous Brat Pack of Emlio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy and Anthony Michael Hall. The film owes its endurance to the way the major characters infused life into classic adolescent archetypes, while also turning them inside out, with Nelson’s John Bender the “bad boy,” Estefez’s Andy Clark the” jock,” Hall’s Brian Johnson the “nerdy brain,” Sheedy’s Allison Reynolds the “emotionally fragile mess” and Ringwald’s Claire Standish the spoiled princess.
“The Graduate”: Mike Nichols’ groundbreaking 1967 movie broke the rules for this type of film by pairing a callow Dustin Hoffman with a seductive Anne Bancroft for a darkly satirical view of alienated youth set against the specter of a roiling counterculture. The moody Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack added a layer of hip sophistication to the proceedings, as did Buck Henry and Calder Willingham’s deadpan screenplay.
“King of the Hill”: Writer/director Steve Soderbergh’s classic 1993 film based on A.E. Hotchner’s memoir isn’t technically a teen movie, but does detail the travails of a resourceful 12-year-old (Jesse Bradford) forced fend for himself in a squalid hotel room in Depression-era St. Louis when he’s abandoned by his parents, starring Karen Allen, Jeroen Krabbe, Lisa Eichhorn, Cameron Boyd, Spalding Gray, Elizabeth McGovern and Adrien Brody.
“The Lost Boys”: Joel Schumacher’s 1987 teen vampire movie, which takes its name from the gang in Peter Pan, was decades ahead of its time, with an all-star cast that included Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Jason Patric, Jamie Gertz and Dianne Wiest. When Patric and younger brother Haim move into a California seaside community and run into a strange gang of kids, who turn out to be bloodsuckers. Much mayhem ensues.
“Fame”: Alan Parker’s 1980 movie musical, which spawned the TV series, focuses on students at a performing arts school dealing with various personal problems as they set out to establish show business careers. Irene Cara stars and also sang the Oscar-winning title song, while Michael Gore took home an Academy Award for Best Score. The movie received four other nominations, including Best Original Song (“Out Here on My Own”), Best Sound, Best Original Screenplay (Christopher Gore) and Best Film Editing.
“The Outsiders”: Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s classic young adult novel tells the tale of members of local rival gangs who get into a scuffle which results in a tragic death in ‘60s Oklahoma. The cast includes a young Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Tom Cruise, Diane Lane, Leif Garrett, Tom Waits and even Hinton herself in a small role as a nurse. Coppola also filmed Hinton’s “Rumble Fish” at the same time, with a screenplay co-written by the author.
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“The Motorcycle Diaries”: Walter Salles’ 2004 portrait of future revolutionary Che Guevera, played by Gael Garcia Bernal as a young medical student—OK, he’s out of his teens—who undertakes a life-changing journey across South America with a friend in 1952.
“That Night”: Writer/director Craig Bolotin’s 1993 period piece captures the romance between a feckless hood (C. Thomas Howell) and a flirty teen (Juliette Lewis), a relationship which preoccupies a curious 10-uyear-old played by Eliza Dushuku, who makes her first ever screen appearance, on 1961 Long Island. Former “Grey’s Anatomy” star Katherine Heigl also had her first movie role in the picture.
“Teen Spirit”: Cassie Scerbo stars as a recently deceased most popular girl on campus who must transform a geeky classmate played by Lindsey Shaw into their school’s prom queen in order to be granted a spot in heaven. The 2011 made-for-TV movie premiered on ABC Family, with a star-studded pop soundtrack including songs by Lady Gaga Britney Spears, Christina Perri and Shaw herself.
“Girls Town”: Director Jim McKay makes his feature film debut with this somber tale about how the suicide of a classmate prompts her three affected friends to assess their own male-dominated and abused lives, starriong Lili Taylor and Anna Grace. The female-dominated soundtrack includes tracks by Salt-n-Pepa, Neneh Cherry, Luscious Jackson, PJ Harvey, Roxanne Shante, Yo-Yo and Queen Latifah.