Rebels With Cause: The Movies' Greatest Teen Rebels
By Stacie Hougland
The '84 classic Footloose may not have defined a generation, but it definitely holds a soft spot in the hearts of '80s kids who grew up tapping their toes to Kenny Loggins and rooting for these small-town teens who just want to get their groove on. As Kenny Wormald steps into Kevin Bacon's dancing shoes with the remake this week, let's hear it for the boys--and girls--who speak their minds and stand up for what they believe in.
James Dean, Rebel Without a Cause
Let's just get this most obvious pick out of the way first, shall we? At war against his parents, his friends and pretty much everything around him, Dean as Jim Stark set the bar (and the uniform) for teen rebellion movies to come.
Christian Slater, Heathers
When Jason 'J.D.' Dean comes to town, he merely seems to be your typical bad boy with a motorcycle and...handgun? The torment inflicted by the school's clique of Heathers is bad enough, but when J.D. goes about taking out the in-crowd one by one, Westerberg High becomes a scary place indeed.
Judd Nelson, The Breakfast Club
Don't you forget about this detention-time dissident, a snarling, smoldering, begloved ball of rage named John Bender, who takes out his anger at his abusive father on everyone from the school principal to his hapless fellow students stuck in the library with him one Saturday.
PJ Soles, Rock 'N Roll High School
What would teenage rebellion be without a hefty dose of rock n' roll, and punk rock from legends The Ramones at that? As Riff Randall, Soles leads Lombardi High's rock music-loving students in a school mutiny after the principal starts burning--gasp!--records.
The Kids in Blackboard Jungle
Hey, ho, Daddio....Speaking of rock music, 1950's Jungle, about rebellious teens at an inner city high school, was the first film to really show teen violence onscreen and include a rock song ("Rock Around the Clock") to boot. Riots and vandalism at movie theaters reportedly ensued.
Matthew Broderick, Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Movie rebels don't always have to ride motorcycles, smoke cigarettes and growl their lines. Ferris was boyishly cute, popular, and his enthusiasm was nothing but infectious--even if it meant him and his friends were destined to get in trouble for skipping class.
Nikki Reed, Evan Rachel Wood, 13
As Evie, Nikki Reed is already big trouble. When mousey, unpopular Tracy (Wood) falls in with her, nothing good comes of it--pretty soon they're staying out late with bad boys, doing drugs, stealing clothes and piercing their tongues. Parents, beware!
Elvis Presley, King Creole
Danny Fisher's mom is dead, and his dad lost his business. Now Danny's skirmishing with everyone in authority--the teachers he thinks are out to fail him, the principal who thinks he's just a hood, the local crime boss--when all he wants is a better life. Pissed off and the whole world owes him, Danny makes Jim Stark look like he's having a case of the blahs.
Johnny Depp, Cry-Baby
One of John Waters's more accessible features starred Depp as leader of a Baltimore, Maryland gang of delinquents known as the "Drapes." His claim to fame? He can woo the ladies by shedding a single tear.
Ellen Page, Juno
Juno MacGuff loves punk rock, swears like a trucker, sasses most everyone and then gets knocked up by her good friend (Michael Cera). Abortion seems like the easiest way out, but stubborn and idealistic Juno opts against that. Against all odds and facing scorn at school, she decides to have the baby--but give it a good home through adoption.
The Girls in Foxes
Four Valley girls (Jodie Foster and the Runaways' Cherie Currie among them) head over the hill to the bright, mean streets of Hollywood to party and meet boys.
The Greasers in The Outsiders
Poor white trash and happy to be so, the "Greasers" (Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio and Matt Dillon) skip school, ignore authority and regularly rumble with the "Socs." These rebels, though, have heart: they quote Robert Frost poems and read Gone with the Wind.
Matt Dillon, Over the Edge
Before playing a "greaser" in The Outsiders, Dillon made his debut with this little-seen gem about bored kids in a generic suburb who have nothing to do but do drugs, have sex and create mayhem while their parents are off at work. When one cop shoots a teen, all hell breaks loose at the junior high.
Marlon Brando, The Wild One
Does it get more iconic than this? Brando as Johnny Strabler leads a group of thuggy bikers into a small California burg and quite literally turns it upside down. "What are you rebelling against?" The response: "Whadda ya got?"
Who's your favorite onscreen teen rebel? Comment below.
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