While it is true that Teen Movies existed in the 50s, 60s, and 70s across a wide variety of genres, it wasn’t until the 80’s that they matured and became a genre of their own. In fact, it was early in the decade that the staples of the genre became entrenched in our collective psyche.
As a result, every teen movie since then has been populated by characters we love, by characters we envy, characters we hate, and by characters that inspire us. The formula has been honed to perfection. Teen Movies are comforting, to say the least.
This summer would be a perfect time to revisit some of the earliest movies in the genre. The movies below all tell timeless tales of hubris, angst, rebellion, and ultimately of love.
Here is our list of the
10 Best Teen Movies From The 80s (to watch this summer)
The first movie on our list gave director Michael Lehman an Independent Spirit Award for Directing. It also gave SuperStar Wynona Ryder one of the most memorable roles to date.
Heathers is a very dark, very funny Dark Comedy that deals with mental health issues with a sharp wit and subversive cynicism that few movies have been able to replicate since.
Dirty Dancing is an undisputed classic of the 80s Teen Movie Era. In it, Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey play a dance teacher and his teenage student who fall in love in rhythm to the music and overcome family issues.
The soundtrack to this movie is filled with unforgettable hit songs such as Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes’ timeless (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.
The Karate Kid
The Karate Kid is one of the greatest coming-of-age stories ever told. Built upon the fantastic chemistry of its stars, Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita, The Karate Kid is a pillar of Hollywood cinema and tells the story of a young outcast and his wise Karate teacher.
While utterly predictable, the movie is suffused with a familial warmth and a good-natured spirit that make it one of the most sincere movies to have come out of the 80s.
A lot of movies embody the essence of the 80s teen movie, but few do it so concisely as Sixteen Candles. Written and directed by legendary Hollywood director John Hughes, Sixteen Candles is the story of Samantha Baker, played exquisitely by Molly Ringwald
Some say that movies can be judged based on the number of memorable moments they contain. While some movies have many unforgettable moments, few have a singular moment that is more enthralling than John Cusak holding a boombox over his head as Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes plays in order to woo Diane Court played by the stunning Ione Skye.
Even though the main character in this movie is a supernatural beast with inhuman strength, pointed fangs, and razor-sharp claws, Teen Wolf is one of the most relatable Teen Movies to have come out of the 80s.
This movie was made in an attempt to tap into the Teen Wolf craze and adapt it to young girls. However, Teen Witch is a worthy movie on its own merits and should be given a chance if you are in the mood for a funny, heartfelt teen fantasy comedy.
Revenge Of The Nerds
The overwhelming majority of teen movies from the 80s had elements of comedy to balance out the more dramatic tones so intrinsic to teenage angst. However, Revenge of the Nerds, released in 1984, leaned heavily into the lighter side of things and became one of the funniest comedies of all time.
Stand By Me
Stand by Me was directed by Rob Reiner, and starred some of the biggest names in teen Hollywood such as Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell in the lead roles.
The movie’s plot is simple enough: four teenage friends go on an expedition to get to the place where a dead boy’s body is reported. Based on a novel by legendary horror writer Stephen King, Stand By Me was nominated for an Oscar and two Golden Globes.
To talk about The Goonies is to speak about one of the most influential movies ever made. The Goonies is a genuinely heart-felt adventure movie combined with a daring teenage comedy, and it has withstood the test of time to become one of the most entertaining, fun, and exciting films in history.
An argument can be made that Goonies is simply a kid’s film, but to me, it is an unwavering defense of the ideals of loyalty, sincerity, and most importantly, imagination.