I’m a nineties (90s) teen through and through, I turned 18 (when you’re supposedly considered an adult) in 1999. So my entire teen-hood was in the 90s and during that time some of the best teen movies were produced! Sure, you could say that I’m bias because those movies were during my teen years or you could say that I’ve never truly compared teen movies from different decades. Both statements are true in a way, the only other decade of teen movies that I’ve seen plenty of are from the 80s, you know the classic John Hughes movies, Heathers, Can’t Buy Me Love, Just One of the Guys, Lost Boys, etc. That small sample list makes me think that maybe I’m wrong in saying that 90s teen movies are the best, but I think they have a slight upper hand because I was an actual teen during that time.
When I watch movies from my youth, I feel so nostalgic, I almost want to go out and buy a striped shirt, choker and some JNCO jeans. If I was to be completely honest I miss the fashion of the 90s too, but that’s another post for another time. Every now and then I get in a TV or movie funk and I fall back to watching what I call teen classics.
Here are a few that I always go back to:
When I was a kid, I loved all those kid sports movies. You know the ones, The Big Green, Sandlot, Mighty Ducks, Little Giants, Angels in the Outfield, and I could go on and on. I didn’t really like those movies because of the sports factor, but I liked the whole “coming together as a team” factor. When I got a little older I no longer cared to watch anything related to sports. I mean I would, but I didn’t purposely seek out these types of movies. Well during my senior year of high school, Varsity Blues was released. I was bored on a weekend, or maybe it was during the summer, either way I wasn’t in school that day and I was bored. So I decided to go to the movies and since not much was out I bought a ticket for Varsity Blues. Thinking even if it was a dumb “jock” movie, it at least had the handsome Paul Walker in it and Dawson (James Van Der Beek) not being very Dawson like.
So I settled down in the theater seat with some popcorn and drink and prepared myself for the worse. However, I was actually surprised how much I truly loved this movie. I don’t know what it was, the teen rebellion, the team building, the relationships or the music throughout the movie, but it was everything to me and when I walked home from the movie that day it was all I could think about it. I rehashed it over and over, and when it was released onto VHS I rented it to watch again, then I eventually just bought it. I honestly can’t explain why I liked and still do like Varsity Blues so much, but every time I watch it I get that same feeling I had when I first watched it. It will always be one of those classics to me.
As I mentioned in past posts I lived in Japan for a while and my mom lived in Virginia. She would occasionally send me current popular favorites in America, so I could keep up with the times. One Christmas she sent me two CDs, one was No Doubts’ Tragic Kingdom album (which was phenomenal by the way and still one of my favorites) and the other CD was the soundtrack to Empire Records. I had never heard of this movie, so of course I had never listened to any of the songs from the soundtrack. When I popped in the CD and listened to it for the first time I was just blown away about how much I loved every song. And this was during a time where I mainly listened to R&B and Rap music, stressing the “mainly” part of the sentence because I listened to a lot of different music when I was a teen and still do.
The music was so great, but obviously I had no context of what the movie was about and because we had a single screen movie theater on the Air Force base where I lived, the theater was very selective on what movies it showed. So the movie was never in theaters, I had to wait until it showed up to rent at the Shoppette (mini mart type thing). My friend and I were immediately excited when we spotted it and popped it in the VCR as soon as we got back to my house.
It was everything that the soundtrack built it up to be. It was definitely a quissential teen movie, with everything from music, rebellion, romance and comedy. I still love this movie to this day. It was also the first time I saw the adorable Ethan Embry, who will be mentioned later.
Each decade seems to have a slew of teen horror films released and the 90s were no exception, we had the Scream movies, I Know What You Did Last Summer movies, Urban Legends, Disturbing Behaviors, Idle Hands and a bunch that I can’t name off the top of my head. My favorite out of all of them was The Faculty. A movie where the teachers are aliens and they try to infect all the students with parasites. As if high school teachers weren’t already super annoying, am I right?
I don’t know what it is about this movie but I can watch it over and over. Like, I mean I still could watch on any day at any time. It had an all-star teen cast and it was just a thrill ride the whole time. I’m honestly surprised they haven’t remade this movie yet with what ever teen stars are popular nowadays. I’m seriously at a lost for words to describe the love I have for this movie. I will say that I’m not a huge fan of “horror” films, so I don’t know why this movie is one of my favorites. It just is.
Clueless is my everything. When I was a teen I watched it probably hundreds of times. I used to be able to quote most of the movie, which is a feat for me because I normally don’t memorize dialogue. It’s also the first time I saw Paul Rudd. I was so in love with Paul Rudd that when I still see him to this day, I just picture him as Josh from Clueless.
The one thing I loved about this movie was the fashion. Yeah it was a little extreme in some cases but I dreamed of having a wardrobe like Cher. Oh my goodness and that closet! I still dream about having that closet. It also had so many people that I loved in it, Alicia Silverstone, Donald Faison, Brittany Murphy and Breckin Meyer. It was such a great cast and the dialogue was hilarious and so well written. This movie will always be a classic in my book and one that I can always go back to and watch. I’ll probably still enjoy it when I’m in my 90s!
Can’t Hardly Wait
I saved the best for last. This is the movie that made me fall in love Ethan Embry and I still get giddy every time I see him. Along with Ethan Embry, it starred Jennifer Love Hewitt, Lauren Ambrose, Peter Facinelli, Seth Green, Sean Patrick Thomas, Freddy Rodriguez and Jaime Pressly. There were even small appearances made by Melissa Joan Hart and Donald Faison. It honestly was a better cast than Clueless and that’s kind of hard for me to say.
It was the perfect romantic comedy. This kind of outcast teen, Preston (Ethan Embry), decides to finally tell the popular girl in school, Amanda (Jennifer Kove Hewitt,) that he loves her. Of course there’s a big teen party with a bunch of different storylines going on, lots of high jinks and sentimental moments, then in the end the outcast kind of sort of gets the girl. They kiss in the train station right before Preston is about to leave. It’s all terribly romantic and one of my favorite scenes out of every teen movie in existence. I will never stop loving this movie,even if it gave me high hopes of some romantic declaration of love at the end of my senior year, which of course never happened.
Honorable Mention of Sorts –
I love the movie Mallrats! Some people may consider this a 90s teen movie, I don’t. The characters that were in school were in college and the rest of the characters were in their 20s. So while everyone in the movie seemed young, they weren’t teens. Mallrats is a Kevin Smith movie and all of Kevin Smith’s movies (well not some recent ones) have a separate file in my hearts filing system. One day I will hopefully write a post on why I’m such a huge fan of Kevin Smith’s!
These examples of 90s teen movies that I believe are prime examples of why the 90’s produced some of the best teen movies. Do you think these should be considered classics? Do you think other 90s teen movies top the ones I listed? Let me know!
Man, sometimes I miss the 90s.