Time of Your Life: 10 Coming-of-Age Movies You Need to See
The coming-of-age story is one of the most reliably emotional and memorable staples in movie history. With the new film 'Love, Simon' venturing into rarely-explored romantic territory, here's a look at some great films about growing up.
‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ (1982)
A high school comedy that tells some sharp truths about love and sex, Fast Times at Ridgemont High boasted an amazing cast that included soon-to-be stars Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nicolas Cage (billed here as Coppola), Forest Whitaker and others.
‘The Breakfast Club’ (1985)
Five students from different high school cliques (Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy) spend a day in detention together and are never the same again in John Hughes’ classic about overcoming teenhood’s vicious tribal system and being proud of who you are.
‘Dazed and Confused’ (1993)
It’s the last day of school in the summer of 1976 and a group of Texas teens face their future in the first of two films on this list from filmmaker Richard Linklater. Like Fast Times, this boasts a cast that included then-unknowns Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich and Parker Posey.
Director Wes Anderson nails how it feels to be both the smartest and loneliest kid in your school as Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman in his screen debut) runs 20 different clubs, tries to romance first grade teacher Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams) and befriends jaded businessman Herman Blume (Bill Murray). It’s simple: this one’s a masterpiece.
‘Stand by Me’ (1986)
Stephen King’s lyrical novella The Body was the basis for Rob Reiner’s poignant and terribly bittersweet film about that moment when childhood loses its innocence and death becomes something that can suddenly happen to all of us.
‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ (2012)
Writer-director Stephen Chbosky adapted his own novel for this outstanding tale of three misfit friends who become a kind of family unit, featuring a superb post-Harry Potter turn from Emma Watson and heartbreaking performances from Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller.
Richard Linklater famously filmed Boyhood over a 12-year period, allowing us to watch a little boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane) grow into adulthood as the real actor did the same. Profoundly moving in its treatment of the passage of time and the accumulation of the small details that inform a life, Boyhood is utterly unique and rich.
‘Y Tu Mama Tambien’ (2001)
Two overstimulated teenage boys and a woman in her late 20s take a road trip together across rural Mexico that changes all three of their lives. Alfonso Cuaron’s film is equal parts funny, tragic and painfully honest in its depiction of the tenuous bond between its male leads.
‘American Graffiti’ (1973)
Before he blasted off to a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas made this nostalgic ode to his own youth in the California car culture of the early 1960s. Look for early appearances by Richard Dreyfuss, Suzanne Somers and Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford.
‘Dead Poets Society’ (1989)
Robin Williams gives one of his most beloved performances as an English teacher who inspires a group of boys at a stuffy boarding school to question authority and live their lives the way they see fit.