I recently started re-watching movies that I was obsessed with years ago (many of which are on this list). Now that I'm seeing these stories through different eyes than my middle school self, I can see where some of the plots and characters are rather corny.
Yet, they have a sweet charm that keeps me coming back, and honestly, some of them are quite good. Here are some of the movies that rocked our childhoods.
1. 'Aquamarine' (2006)
Claire and Hailey wish that they could spend the entire summer together, and amazingly, the tides turn (get it?) and wash ashore a mermaid named Aquamarine who will grant their wish if they help her prove love exists.Besides showcasing a very young Emma Roberts, this movie teaches us that friendship is the best form of love, spending a summer in a quaint beach town is essential for fun and romance, and that if a guy shakes his hair, stretches his arms, and flexes his muscles, he's totally into you.
2. 'Ice Princess' (2005)
Casey, with the help of a frozen pond, the cute Zamboni driver, and a pair of figure skates, works hard to become a champion figure skater.
If anything, this movie made me want to learn how to figure skate. Michelle Trachtenberg made it look so graceful and fun, except for when she tried to break in her new skates and got bloody feet instead. Ouch.
3. 'The Lizzie McGuire Movie' (2003)
While on a school trip in Rome, Lizzie is mistaken for Italian pop star Isabella, launching her into the world of singing stardom and a sweet romance – everything dreams are made of.
It would be remiss to not include such a fantastic movie on this list. Now, I realize that running around Rome with Paolo was definitely reckless. Plus, Paolo was certainly a lot older than Lizzie, which is a little creepy. But, it's still absolutely perfect. This movie also starred the total bop "What Dreams Are Made Of," and yes, I sing along every time that scene comes on.
4. 'A Cinderella Story' (2004)
Sam is feeling hopeless after years of servitude for her stepmother and stepsisters, and her only source of joy in life is the prospect of meeting Nomad, her online pen pal that she has a serious crush on, at a school dance.
I had to include this one because it is *still* one of my favorite movies. Hilary Duff is perfect, and I love her fashion in this movie: for a long time after I first watched it, I really wanted to buy pink Converse sneakers. Chad Michael Murray is a cutie in this film, which certainly helps. This movie really drives home that Princeton is where the princes go, and water has no sugar, no carbs, and is fat-free, among other lessons.
5. 'Nancy Drew' (2007)
Nancy Drew and her father move to LA and she promises she's done solving mysteries, yet she can't help but investigate the unsolved murder of Dehlia Draycott, a famous movie star whose house they're renting.
I loved reading the Nancy Drew series as a kid, so I was really into this movie when it came out. It's really cool that a teenager has the means and smarts to investigate clues, put them together, and make connections that apparently real law enforcement couldn't.
6. 'The Princess Diaries' (2001)
Mia, a regular teen from San Francisco, gets a visit from her grandmother and learns that she is the heir to the throne of Genovia.First of all, Mia is probably one of the most relatable teen characters ever: she has only a couple of friends, she's not popular at school, and she's dorky in an endearing way. Second off, how amazing is it that one day she learns that she's actually royalty in another country (crazy stuff). Third off, her transformation scene is probably one of the best in cinematic history. Fourth off, I'm still kinda bitter this wasn't my life.
7. '17 Again' (2009)
With an impending divorce and strained relationships with his children, Mike is really unhappy with his life. His spirit guide gives him the opportunity to become 17 again to change how his life turned out and he is reminded of all of the good things he has.
I really just watched this movie back in the day because of Zac Efron, but other than that eye candy, the idea of this movie is pretty cool. Perhaps going back to the past and reminding ourselves of what our lives were like then would make us more grateful for what we have now.
8. 'Mean Girls' (2004)
After enrolling in a new high school, Cady gets involved with the it-clique, The Plastics, and schemes with her outcast friends to topple Regina George's reign and win the heart of Aaron Samuels.
This is one of those "fetch" movies that will probably always be popular among teens. Yes, it's problematic at times, but it's still funny and sweet. It goes to show that being "popular" isn't always a good thing.
9. 'The Prince and Me' (2004)
College students Paige and Eddie form a relationship despite the fact that she's an American farm girl and he is a prince in Denmark.
This is yet another one of those movies that I wish happened to me IRL. How romantic is that to go to college and fall in love with a guy, only to find out he's a prince?
10. 'Cheaper by the Dozen' (2003)
After moving to the city for Tom's job, Kate goes on a book tour for her job, so it's up to Tom to keep their 12 kids in check.
Though a family of 14 people seems like it would be crazy, the whole gang is quite close. It's funny, it's heartwarming, and it stars Ashton Kutcher and Tom Welling, so what's not to love?
11. 'A Walk to Remember' (2002)
Landon, a troubled teen, becomes involved with Jamie, a quiet girl who has terminal leukemia. The two fall in love and set out to check off as many items on Jamie's bucket list as possible.
I'm a sucker for Nicholas Sparks books and star-crossed lovers, so this movie brings both of those together. Though this movie is so sad (I definitely cried), the young romance is so sweet and pure.
12. 'Juno' (2007)
After becoming pregnant at 16 years old, Juno decides to adopt the baby to Mark and Vanessa, a couple who are unable to have children of their own.
This movie is quirky but sweet, and it gives insight into the adoption process and the realities of teen pregnancy.
13. 'Freaky Friday' (2003)
After getting fortune cookies at a Chinese restaurant, a mom and daughter wake up in each other's bodies the next day and literally take a walk in the other's shoes.
Yet another teen movie that stars Lindsey Lohan, it's hilarious and heart-warming. I also really like Lindsey's fashion in this movie.
14. 'The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants' (2005)
Though four friend's lives are going in different directions and they won't be able to see each other as often, they keep in touch through a magical pair of jeans, which fits all of them perfectly.
I watched this movie because I read the books, and I enjoyed it just as much. Though it's an absolute miracle that the same pair of pants perfectly fit multiple body types, I low-key wish they were real. It would certainly make shopping easier.
15. 'High School Musical' (2006)
Troy, the basketball team captain, meets Gabriella, a nerdy new student, at a New Year's Eve Party and then again at East High. They discover that they like music and try out for the leads in the school musical.
I would have to say that this movie bopped its way to the top of my most-watched movies in middle school. The unique musical format in a teen film was really the start of something new and really what I, and other young adults, were looking for from Disney. Though the characters in the film think it's best to stick to the status quo, in reality, we should break free from that, because we're all in this together. (I included seven song title references here, and I'm counting on you, the true fans, to notice them all.)
16. 'The Clique' (2008)
Claire and her family move into the guest house of Massie Block, the queen bee of middle school. Claire wants to befriend Massie and her friends but realizes it's more difficult than she thinks.
This movie is based on the first book in The Clique series by Lisi Harrison. At my middle school, the series was incredibly popular; I liked the series as well and was excited for this movie. Even though it was never a popular film, it did introduce Bridgit Mendler.
17. 'Legally Blonde' (2001)
Elle Woods follows her ex-boyfriend to law school, where she realizes that she is more than just her looks and excels in her classes.
This movie is a cult classic that will likely be popular for a while. I like that it teaches young women that education is important, and it is okay to put themselves first.