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Teen angst is an important, if not necessary, part of our maturity. It is a time of great confusion, of stakes we perceive as much too high for our comprehension, and thus creates in us the fear of not belonging, of being adrift with nowhere to go. This confusing time in everyone’s life is what makes coming-of-age movies so painfully relatable.
Here are some of the most tear-jerking and insightful coming-of-age movies you can sink your teeth into.
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The Breakfast Club (1985)
When someone says coming-of-age, chances are, the first movie that comes to people’s minds is “The Breakfast Club,” a 1985 movie hitting way too close to home for many of us. It starts off just about the same as any teenage-centric movie of its decade, as Good Housekeeping writes that the movie explicitly leans into the high-school stereotypes. It’s in the way they dress, too, as well as act.
To quote Bender’s iconic last words (and that equally iconic fistpump), the stereotypes crumble away even as the audience initially sees “a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.” The Breakfast Club does a wonderful job at showing us that adolescence is a hard time of one’s life, and that no matter where you are, it is never easy but it is worthy.
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Lady Bird (2017)
On the other end of the spectrum, “Lady Bird” leans away from the stereotypes to produce something equally poignant. This 2017 movie is relevant in that Saoirse Ronan’s character Christine has a high-school experience that is more similar to the rest of us.
While The Breakfast Club saw potential in building up stereotypes only to break them down, “Lady Bird” wants you to know that this is a person after our own hearts, “not exactly cool, she’s not an overachieving nerd, and she may be rebellious but it doesn’t get her anywhere.”
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This Academy Award-Winner is arguably one of the most beautiful, “emotionally moving, introspective, intimate, evocative, and illuminating” movies to come out of 2016. According to MyDomaine, a website describing itself as a shoppable online content publisher of chic, everyday lifestyle inspiration and advice, the movie follows young Chiron who, throughout the story, grows to understand his sexuality, learn about life, as well as learn about love “from unconventional figures in his life.”
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Nothing forces people on the path of the intricacies of adulthood quite like unplanned pregnancy does, something that the 2007 film “Juno” has tackled so beautifully. MyDomaine also describes the story to have possibly “the best script and lineup of tunes ever,” and fleshes out Juno’s (Ellen Paige) development masterfully alongside Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera).
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If you’re looking for a good laugh, you can never go wrong with “Superbad.” This comedic romp would not be possible without its equally amazing cast, Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. If you’ve ever heard a McLovin’ joke, that was from this movie.
According to Slashfilm, a website delivering the latest movie and television news, reviews, trailers, and opinions, Superbad is a hilarious, if incredibly vulgar, exploration of high school students on their way to college. This coming-of-age movie might not have a comedy that’s for everyone, but it does have “a lot of heart in the two lead characters.”
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The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” was memorable for so many reasons. One of those reasons is that iconic line: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” Since the movie came out, it has become one of the most beloved coming-of-age films. If the Breakfast Club assembled a group of stereotypes, and Lady Bird focused on the mundane existence for the rest of us, the “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” focused on the outcast subgroup, the outsiders looking in, the wallflowers.