15 Coming-of-Age Movies You Must See
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15 Coming-of-Age Movies You Must See

Everyone loves a good coming-of-age story.

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15 Coming-of-Age Movies You Must See
The Mandozaline

At some point in your life, you have probably seen a coming-of-age movie. What exactly is a coming-of-age movie, you ask? Well, it would be defined as a film with a primary focus on the protagonist's growth from childhood into young adulthood. That being said, I bet you are currently recalling a movie you have seen fitting that description. I am here to give you a compilation of what I consider to be the best coming-of-age movies from the 1980's until now. Hopefully, this gives you some new movies to watch or allows you to reminisce about the ones you already love!

1. The Breakfast Club (1985)

A group of five teenagers from five different social cliques end up in Saturday detention together. At first, they want absolutely nothing to do with each other, but as the day progresses, the begin to learn that they are more alike than they want to admit. A movie that is now considered a classic, it is really about these five strangers discovering things about themselves that they never thought would ever apply to them.

2. Sixteen Candles (1984)

It's Samantha's sixteenth birthday, but instead of feeling like a princess, she feels like a fool. Her entire family forgot her birthday, the school geek continues to embarrass her, and the boy she is in love with doesn't know she exists. This movie is hilarious and even though it came out 33 years ago, Samantha's story still very much resonates with high school teenagers of today.

3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Ferris Bueller simply refuses to waste a beautiful, sunny day stuck in school. Instead, he takes his girlfriend and best friend out in their city of Chicago for a day of wild adventures. The only problem is his principle and his older sister, who both want to see Ferris finally get busted. This movie has become iconic in the past 30 years, with lines like "Bueller. Bueller. Anyone? Bueller?" still being repeated in classrooms today.

4. Heathers (1988)


The three most popular girls in school, who all share the same name, are known by everyone as the Heathers. Although she does not share the same name, Veronica Sawyer is part of the group, much to her dismay. She hates the cruel pranks her friends play on other kids in school but knows life would be difficult without having popular friends. But then, Veronica meets J.D., a rebellious new student that she is immediately attracted to. Turns out, J.D. has some deadly tendencies, like murdering the popular kids, and soon Veronica's life spirals out of control. While at first, it received generally negative reviews for its satirical view on life as a high school student, this movie became a cult classic that is certainly worth the watch.

5. Say Anything (1989)

After just graduating high school, Lloyd Dobler is finally going to ask out Diane Court, the school's valedictorian, and the girl he constantly thought about in high school. As they start to fall in love, they must come to terms with Diane leaving for college in England at the end of the summer, and the strain it will put on their relationship. Another classic movie with iconic scenes, this is a movie that will make you reminisce about your high school crush.

6. Clueless (1995)

Cher is wealthy, popular, and has a killer sense of style. So, why not take the less fortunate new girl under her wing? While trying to help the new girl fit in at school, she realizes that there is still a lot she has to learn about herself. This movie is funny yet touching at the same time, and also made the phrase "as if!" extremely popular in the 90's and the early 2000's.

7. Dazed and Confused (1993)


The year is 1976, and it is the last day of school. That means hazing the incoming freshmen, staying out all night, and embracing young adulthood. Through all the drinking and getting stoned, these high school teenagers learn how to get along with one another and make the most out of their small town in Texas. While maybe not as popular as some of the aforementioned movies, watching this movie makes you want to get out of bed and have a wild night out in town.

8. American Beauty (1999)

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Lester Burnham is a suburban dad suffering a mid-life crisis when he becomes infatuated with his daughter's best friend. His wife Carolyn is too uptight and his daughter Jane won't give him the time of day. So, he starts changing everything about his life, including quitting his job to work at a fast food restaurant and starting to work out daily, in order to take control of his life and impress his daughter's best friend. While this is not about the growth of a teenager, Lester certainly has some to growing up and self-discovery to do. American Beauty also earned a few Oscars in 2000, including Best Picture and Best Actor in a Leading Role for Kevin Spacey.

9. Pleasantville (1998)

Jennifer and David, two teenage siblings living in the 1990's, somehow get transported into everyone's favorite black and white 1950's sitcom Pleasantville. As they try to assimilate into the rigid ways of the tv show, Jennifer and David's personalities start to change the world of the show, literally bringing color to the lives of everyone in the show. This movie perfectly demonstrates the ways in which young people learn to express themselves and be who they are meant to be.

10. Girl, Interrupted (1999)

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Susanna Kaysen is an 18-year-old young woman who is checked into a mental hospital for 18 months in the 1960's. She swallowed a bottle of pills with a bottle of vodka, which she claims was for a headache, not to try to kill herself. During her stay, she meets a variety of girls in the hospital who all suffer from different disorders. Ultimately, she is fascinated with and becomes the closest with Lisa, the hospital's long-term patient who they consider to be a sociopath. Based on the real-life Susanna Kaysen's 1993 memoir, this movie takes quite a different spin on the typical coming-of-age movies we are used to seeing.

11. Good Will Hunting (1997)

Will Hunting is a 20-year-old born and raised in South Boston, who also happens to be a mathematical genius. After getting into a fight with a police officer, he agrees to see a therapist and practice math with a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he works as a janitor. Throughout his time with his therapist, Sean, Will starts to question the relationships in his life; his best friend, his girlfriend, and even with Sean. Will struggles with staying in his hometown forever or choosing to take one of many job offers outside of South Boston that will truly test his mathematical genius. This movie was written by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and won Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars. It is an excellent movie that exemplifies how young adults struggle with their future and the direction their life should be pointed in.

12. Mean Girls (2004)


After spending the past 12 years in Africa with her zoologist parents, Cady Heron returns to the United States to attend public high school. She meets Janice and Damion, who convince her to spy on the three most popular girls in school, also known as the Plastics. At first, Cady was just hanging out with them to expose them for the manipulative, mean-spirited girls they are, but eventually, Cady gets caught up in their evil ways. This movie has become probably the most-quoted movie of our generation, and our future children will more likely than not know all the words to this movie as well. It is absolutely something that everyone should watch in high school.

13. Superbad (2007)

High school seniors Evan and Seth are best friends. They are inseparable and trying to cope with the fact that they each will be attending different colleges in the fall. When they are surprisingly invited to a party by the popular kids, they get trusted with the responsibility of bringing alcohol to the party. Their plans to score the alcohol go awry when their nerdy friend Fogell accidentally befriends two goofy cops. This movie does an exaggerated yet good job of portraying how seniors want to make their last summer before college one of the most memorable times of their lives.

14. Easy A (2010)

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Good-girl Olive Penderghast lies to her best friend about losing her virginity to a college guy and then confides to her gay friend about it. After hearing Olive's story, her friend asks her to pretend to sleep with him so people in school will stop bullying him about being gay. Olive agrees to pretend, but soon after, she started getting requests for the same lie from numerous guys in her school. She soon brands a scarlet "A" on all of her clothes, inspired by The Scarlet Letter. However, the lies start to become too much for Olive to handle, and it affects all of the relationships in her life. Emma Stone is hilarious in this 80's reminiscent teenage comedy.

15. The Edge of Seventeen (2016)


Extremely awkward and with only one friend, Nadine is just trying to get by without embarrassing herself too much. Her dad, the only person who truly understood her, passed away a few years ago, and she is still coping with it. Then, her best friend starts dating her super cool brother Darian, and Nadine feels more alone than she has ever felt before. This movie accurately explores how taxing and painful growing up can be. Everyone can relate their high school experience in some way to Nadine's.

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