Monday, November 12, 2012

12 Movies That Inspired My Love of YA (and Influenced the Way I Write It)

The Goonies Poster
(1985) A motley group of teenagers embark on a quest to find lost pirate's treasure. Sounds silly (and there are some silly moments) but The Goonies is actually an incredibly well-rounded movie. There's action, adventure, friendship, romance, gold, and TONS of quotable lines. Plus, it's set in the Pacific Northwest, my old stomping grounds!

The Girl Next Door Poster
(2004) A sweet but dorky teen falls in love with the former porn star who moves in next door. I know, I know... Porn star? Don't worry... this movie is not porn-ish. It's funny and sweet and brilliantly written, and despite its wildly unbelievable premise, it has one of the most believable romances I've seen in a teen movie.

Teen Witch Poster
(1989) A teen witch (YES!) harnesses her powers to make herself the most popular girl in school, thus winning the heart of her crush, Brad. This movie is one that shaped my childhood. It's full of all the right kinds of cheesiness: Classic high school archetypes, tragically awesome eighties clothing, a charming love interest who I *still* find handsome, and a rap battle that happens right on the sidewalk. So much awesome! 

10 Things I Hate About You Poster
(1999) A retelling of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, set in a modern day high school. 10 Things I Hate About You came out when I was a senior in high school and while the events that unfold during the course of the movie are somewhat unrealistic, I love it to this day. Amazing acting by Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Heath Ledger (an absolutely adorable bad boy), and a final scene in which Kat recites her I Hate... poem make it a high school movie classic. 

Election Poster
(1999) Dark and somewhat satirical, Election is the tale of a well-meaning high school teacher whose life is turned upside down by the election he oversees. This movie is ingenious, and the acting is superb. While it seems to have garnered a bit of a cult following, I don't think Election gets nearly enough credit for its brilliance. 

Grease Poster
(1978) A good girl has a perfect summer romance with a bad boy, but when they unexpectedly meet up at high school in the fall, shenanigans ensue. So, I know the underlying message of this movie (girl changes to fit boy's needs in order to win his love) is sort of, um, vintage, but I still think Grease rocks. The songs! Watch it if only for the songs!  

Mean Girls Poster
(2004) A formerly home-schooled social misfit who grew up in Africa breaks into her new school's popular clique with the goal of teaching them a lesson, but ends up falling deep into their mean girl ways. Lindsay Lohan is at her finest, and Rachel McAdams is perfection. Watch it, bee-otch, because the girl-power messages of kindness and respecting differences are cleverly hidden beneath compulsively quotable dialog.

 Cruel Intentions Poster
(1999) A rich bitch challenges her step-brother to sleep with an innocent virgin who's pledged to wait for marriage. Cruel Intentions is a movie full of wealth and betrayal and absolutely deplorable behavior, and it's mesmerizing. Even though they've long since divorced, the chemistry between Ryan Phillippe and Reece Witherspoon still blows me away. 

Mermaids Poster
(1990) A kooky single mother moves her daughters to a small town where a number of unexpected events and relationships challenge their family bonds. Winona Ryder rocks this movie. She's just the right teenaged mix of weird, selfish, and flailing, which makes her character enchanting. Plus, her romantic subplot... Love. 

Clueless Poster
(1995) Spoiled teen Cher learns what it means to be truly selfless while still managing to live it up with her friends in Beverly Hills. What I love most about Clueless is that while Cher really can be clueless, she's not nearly as stupid or as shallow as she first appears. She's sweet and well meaning and still manages to climb a pretty steep character arc, which is what makes this movie work. 

Varsity Blues Poster
(1999) The tale of a group of small-town Texas football players who have a ruthless coach, a winning record, and a penchant for partying. While there's a lot of seriousness going on in this movie (the characters experience scandal and intense pressure to perform, and make plenty of bad choices), it's still a joy to watch. The relationships between the teen characters feel so very real. 

 Easy A Poster
(2010) A fresh spin on The Scarlet Letter, good girl Olive takes control of the rumor mill, letting it advance her social (and financial) standing. Emma Stone as clean-cut Olive is dazzling. She plays high school very well, infusing her character with wit and authenticity. Plus, the supporting characters (Olive's parents, especially) are fantastic. 

*All film posters courtesy of IMDb. Each image links to its IMDb page. 

Tell Us: What's your favorite high school movie?


Laura Marcella said...

Awesome list of high school movies! My favorite are Bring It On and Easy A.

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