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Film Mom: Why 'Perks' Is a Must-See with Your Teen

Family Film Mom is a weekly column about family entertainment for parents with kids (and kids with parents) by Tara McNamara, the editor and founder of

John Hughes is dead. Cameron Crowe grew up. Without a voice summing up the modern high school experience, today’s teens are lacking a generationally defining movie. I’m not talking about “the movies of their generation” – the Class of 2013 has had a rich cinematic experience with Twilight, Harry Potter, Marvel, The Dark Knight and Pixar films. But what is this millennium’s Pretty in Pink? Or Fast Times at Ridgemont High?  Or Say Anything… or Ferris Bueller's Day Off or The Breakfast Club? The 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds of the 1980s identified and connected with the characters on the big screen – and, as a result, they felt less alone.  

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, based on the 1999 bestseller by Stephen Chbosky and published by cable channel MTV, is No. 3 on the Top 10 Books People Want Banned list, according to the American Library Association. That alone should get kids wanting to see the PG-13 film, which opens in limited release Friday. While the novel’s most controversial moments were left out of the movie, I walked into the screening curious if this would be THE film that would fill the void for teens.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of the most affecting, profound, substantial teen movies I’ve ever seen. The scandalous material includes molestation, sexuality and homosexuality and drug use, without judgment or glamorization. The only problem: it’s not about teens today, it’s about teens in the early ‘90s – practically the high school experience of their PARENTS. Not seeing The Perks of Being a Wallflower with your teen is a missed opportunity to open up a conversation about what high school life is like now. Unfortunately, in setting the film 20 years ago, it probably won't be the movie that defines their youth.

Here are three films to see with your family this weekend:

 Finding Nemo 3D. The Pixar classic is one of the best family films and best animated films of all time; this may very well mark the very best 3D conversion of all time as well.




 Raiders of the Lost Ark IMAX. My good friend commented to me last week, “There are so few great films in the theater at the moment, why don’t they rerelease an Indiana Jones movie?” Great (although not always aware) minds think alike.




 ParaNorman. Many critics are saying this stop-motion animation film about a boy who can speak with the dead is one of the best of the year. They are right.




To find about what kids ages 7-17 think about these movies, go to, where all kids are movie critics. 

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