Finally, It's Time

40 Best Teen Movies Of All Time To Share With Your High Schooler

Consider watching these together ~educational.~

Originally Published: 
'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' contains some of the most quoted lines from any classic teen movie.
Paramount Pictures

There comes a time in a child's life when they're expected to know a thing or two about the classic flicks brought to us by Hollywood. And by "classic," we mean movies so famous that your kid may even quote them and not know the origin of their words. You don't want your teen out there saying, "You're killin’ me, Smalls" — without at least knowing the significance of their joke. Right? Right.

A great way to connect with your child is to watch movies with them and have conversations about the storylines, characters, and conflicts afterward. So, really, showing them classic films that'll leave you feeling nostalgic in the best way and them feeling cool for knowing where phrases like "Oh Captain, my captain" come from is a win-win for both of you.

Ahead, you'll find some of the best examples of these classic movies, and — bonus — they're age-appropriate for your teenager (though you have final discretion on this). Pull them up on a projector for an outdoor movie night or cozy up on the couch in front of the TV. You're about to have one incredible movie marathon.

Classic Movies to Watch With Your Teen

1. The Breakfast Club (1985)

Is this film actually glorifying detention? Hmm, something to think about. Starring Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall, The Breakfast Club challenges stereotypes and reminds us that there's usually more to someone than just what you see. It centers on five students who wind up in detention together and spark a conversation to pass the time.

2. 13 Going On 30 (2004)

This movie, starring Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo, will teach your kid that it's better not to wish away your teen years — lest you wake up at 30 years old having missed out on them. Plus, it has an amazing flash mob-style dance scene to Michael Jackson's "Thriller." And who doesn't love a friends-to-lovers arch?

3. Real Women Have Curves (2002)

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Ugly Betty, Superstore, Barbie — America Ferrera has had many iconic roles over the years. But it all started with her impactful first feature film, Real Women Have Curves. In it, she stars as 18-year-old Ana García, a smart young student at a Beverly Hills high school who struggles between striking out on her own and helping her family run their struggling textile factory. Making matters worse? Ana’s mom routinely nags Ana about her weight. There are some really powerful takeaways for teens here, from self-love to autonomy.

4. Easy A (2010)

Easy A takes the classic story of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and makes it modern in this tale, starring Emma Stone, Stanley Tucci, Amanda Bynes, Penn Badgley, Lisa Kudrow, and even more big names. Not only is it laugh-out-loud funny, but it introduces stereotypical high school dilemmas, like trying to impress your friend by telling her you've lost your virginity.

5. Mean Girls (2004)

Mean Girls might be one of the most quoted movies ever, so it's a must-watch. Rachel McAdams, Lindsay Lohan, and Amanda Seyfried portray the sometimes-ruthless realities of high school in a way that'll leave you and your teen laughing out loud. You also get the joy of seeing Tina Fey and Amy Poehler interact with these dramatic teens. There's no better time to add this gem to the list so your kid can see where the 2024 Renee Rapp-led musical reboot truly started.

6. Cooley High (1975)

Yes, you’ll be taking it all the way back to the ‘70s for this one... but the fashion alone is worth the journey. But more pointedly, Cooley High — which centers on high school seniors Cochise, Preach, and Pooter — is an important piece of American cinema. In fact, in 2021 it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being culturally significant.

7. Dead Poets Society (1989)

Once again, this movie centers around a high school — this time an all-male boarding school — that shows the inner workings of the teen world. But these boys are taught by Robin Williams, an unconventional teacher who wants to inspire his students using poetry. Ethan Hawke and Robert Sean Leonard also star in the film. (*Trigger warning: self-harm.*)

8. Sixteen Candles (1984)

Sometimes, being a teenager means feeling invisible, and in the case of Molly Ringwald's character, this is especially true when her family forgets her sixteenth birthday. And, of course, she goes through a full day of teen trials and tribulations. But hey, at least she gets the guy in the end, right?

9. Booksmart (2019)

Is your kiddo heading off to college soon? Booksmart, starring Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, follows two teens attempting to make up for four years of studying hard by partying even harder in a single night before their high school graduation. It's a little edgy, but there are heartfelt and hilarious moments throughout the entire phenomenal film.

10. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Taking a page out of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, 10 Things I Hate About You follows two high school boys, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Heath Ledger, as they try to woo Bianca and Kat. The twist is that Bianca is only allowed to date when her antisocial older sister Kat does — a rule their father put in place knowing this would squash Bianca's chances. This quintessential '90s comedy is so beloved it even got a television reboot.

11. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Bueller? Bueller? Your kids are in for a lifetime of hearing this movie referenced, and now's the time to introduce them to it. Matthew Broderick stars as Ferris, a high school slacker who feigns illness to get out of going to school. (Don't worry, we're sure you'd never fall for his tricks as a parent!) Follow along with Ferris, his girlfriend, and his best friend as they play hooky and adventure around Chicago.

12. Grease (1978)

This musical will never not be important in pop culture, and your teen must see John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John's iconic performances as 1950s teenage lovebirds ASAP. When Danny and Sandy realize they're attending the same high school for senior year, their summer love comes crashing down because Danny has a cool-guy image to maintain. There are peppy cheerleaders, rival friend groups, and plenty of breaking into song — what's not to love?

13. Dirty Dancing (1987)

Your kiddo probably knows about the iconic lift dance move from Dirty Dancing; it's only been replicated a bazillion times! When Baby Houseman (Jennifer Grey) attends a resort in the Catskills one summer, she finds a dance partner and love interest in camp instructor Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze). Nobody puts Baby in a corner!

14. Remember the Titans (2000)

Odds are you and your teen will both laugh, cry, and walk away with maybe just a little more hope for humanity after you watch this inspirational early-aughts film. Loosely based on the true story of coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) attempting to integrate the T.C. Williams High School football team in Virginia in 1971, Remember the Titans follows a group of players — and a community — struggling to come together in a charged environment. In the end, their unity changes the town and the people in it forever.

More Classic Teen Movies

  1. House Party (1990)
  2. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
  3. Clueless (1995)
  4. Save the Last Dance (2001)
  5. Back to the Future (1985)
  6. Gidget (1959)
  7. Lady Bird (2017)
  8. The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
  9. Footloose (1984)
  10. Dope (2015)
  11. Eighth Grade (2018)
  12. Dazed and Confused (1993)
  13. But I'm A Cheerleader (1999)
  14. The Hate You Give (2018)
  15. The Legend of Billie Jean (1985)
  16. The Perks of Being A Wallflower (2012)
  17. The Lost Boys (1987)
  18. The Princess Diaries (2001)
  19. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
  20. Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging (2008)
  21. She's All That (1999)
  22. Heathers (1989)
  23. Pretty in Pink (1986)
  24. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
  25. The Outsiders (1983)
  26. Summer School (1987)

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