90's (and early 2000's) Teen Movies Are Kind of All The Same... Yet We Love Them
Teen movies in the 90's and early 2000's all had similar themes. High School. Crushes. A sense of belonging (or not belonging). That big party everyone "cool" was going to. The nerds who didn't fit in. The popular kids everyone wanted to be like. The girl who transformed from a nobody to a somebody in the world of high school. A big lie that turned out to be true in the end. And so on. Here's 10 of them, in no particular order, just for fun. Because they're all the same... and yet we eat 'em up!
1. Boy and Girls (2000)
I just watched this movie for the first time on Netflix last night. It was not one of my favorites in my younger years, like many of the others I'm writing about. I did enjoy it, but it was definitely not Freddie Prince Jr.'s best role. He plays a young man named Ryan, who meets a feisty young lady named Jennifer (Claire Forlani) on an airplane when they are teenagers. Throughout the years, they keep bumping into each other, first in high school and then in college. Gradually, they become friends, despite hating each other initially. This film has basically the same plot as the classic "When Harry Met Sally" (1989), except without the wonderful Billy Crystal and the charming and beautiful Meg Ryan. This film isn't nearly as endearing or witty as "When Harry Met Sally", either, unfortunately. It has all the same elements of just about every teen movie -- partying, romance, break-ups, and the like. In the film WHMS, it is Harry who is afraid of commitment and flits from one woman to the next following his messy divorce. Sally is the one looking for a more stable relationship, and willing to let herself fall in love. In this film, the roles are reversed and it is Ryan who is open to love and knows the "work" and commitment it takes for a relationship to survive. Jennifer is the commitment-phobe, afraid of the strong feelings she begins to develop when her relationship with Ryan evolves. (Sidenote: Interestingly, Jason Biggs of "American Pie" fame is in this movie as well. He plays the roommate who spends the whole film trying to get a girl by acting like anyone but himself. Alyson Hannigan also has a small role as one of Ryan's girlfriends in college).Overall, this movie is fairly predictable, but then, what teen movie isn't?
2. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Now this film was definitely one of my favorites as a teenager! For those unaware, this film is an adaptation of the play "Taming of the Shrew" by William Shakespeare. Julia Stiles was in her prime in this movie. So was Heath Ledger. The two hated each other in the beginning, but then grew to love each other as the movie progressed. One scene that does set this movie apart is the time they go to the park and shoot each other with paintball guns. That scene forever glamorized paintballing in my mind. That is, until someone reminded me of the gigantic, black and blue welts you can get all over your body from paintballing. Maybe I just liked the pretty colors of the paint. But anyway, I digress. This movie has it all: beautiful main characters, drama, high school cliques, love story, and so on. Plus the famous Julia Stiles' quip: "The thing about you is that I don't hate you, not even a little bit, not even at all." (Or something like that.) Classic.
3. Drive Me Crazy (1999)
Melissa Joan Hart is actually a really decent actress! So is the guy who plays the boy next door... What's his name again? Oh yeah, Adrian Grenier. Well anyway, he is adorable. This movie incorporates all the usual fanfare: High School, lavish party, backstabbing friend, big dance ("prom"), nerds who turn out to be really cool, nice people, (big) white lie (fake boyfriend to make her ex jealous) that turns into the truth (they end up really liking each other. Like. For Real.) Guilty pleasure, I actually really enjoyed this movie after watching it again as an adult. It does have a weird, creepy scene at the end where their parents are also getting together (her mom and his dad) which would make them step-siblings, but... overlooking that awkwardness... it's a pretty cute flick!
4. She's All That (1999)
Freddie Prince Jr. was such a popular actor during this time. Granted, he is pretty cute. Rachael Leigh Cook does a pretty good job acting in this one, and she cleans up nicely, too. This film utilized the whole homely-unpopular-girl transforms into beautiful-super-attractive-super-popular girl theme. It's been done oh-so-many times but we still flock to it like flies to a Venus fly trap! I thought she was cute in her overalls, with glasses on and covered in oil paint too, but oh well. Still, this film is a decent coming-of-age drama, and of course we're all rooting for the main characters to fall in love and stay together in the end.
5. Down to You (2000)
This film came out in the year 2000, so it's practically a 90's film. The jargon and the clothing style was still the same. This movie combines two of Hollywood's darlings during this time period: Freddie Prince Jr. and Julia Stiles. Typical high school drama ensues (except that they're in college. But the drama feels the same). The main characters fall in love. They break up over something stupid. There's a huge party that everyone who is anyone attends. Time passes as they go their separate ways for awhile. They realize how lost they are in life without each other. They get back together and everything ends up happily ever after. The scene that stands out most in this film to me is when Freddie Prince Jr.'s character, Al, almost dies from drinking a bottle of his ex-girlfriend's shampoo. Definitely never saw that in any other teen movies! Although that was a unique plot twist, it wasn't enough to bump this movie past 3% on Rotten Tomatoes. I still enjoyed this film for what it was though-- a typical teen drama/comedy/romance.
6. Can't Hardly Wait (1998)
I don't know if you remember, but Jennifer Love Hewitt was really popular in the 90's. She had a slim figure, was well-endowed, and had a girl-next-door look to her, so maybe that's why? Of course this movie has all the typical trappings of a 90's teen movie, too: High School, popular kids, unpopular kids, huge party where lots of kids are drinking/smoking, love stories..... etc. The only difference in this one is that it involves JLove, if that's what you want to call her. And a wacky white kid who wanted to be some kind of gangster rapper and got made fun of a lot for it! Those silly goggles are pretty memorable, though!
7. Clueless (1995)
Alicia Silverstone is pretty and posh in this popular teen comedy about a well-to-do girl named Cher who enjoys doing good deeds for others (which often involves lots of match-making and makeovers). There is teen partying, popular and unpopular kids, and the standard makeover scenes where they take the regular girl, change her clothes, hair and makeup and *bam* she's instantly gorgeous and ultra popular. However, there is a bit of a switch-up from the usual fluff in this film. For one thing, the main character, Cher, genuinely tries to help others and think of her friends and family before herself. Secondly, she has a cute, older, and more responsible step-brother (not related by blood) played by Paul Rudd, who becomes a hunky love interest.
8. Never Been Kissed (1999)
This film creates an interesting twist on a plot that's been done many times in these teen movies. Ordinary girl becomes a "somebody", except this time it happens when she goes back to high school as an adult. She is a really a journalist doing a story, and as part of her assignment, she gets to masquerade as a high school student, thus reliving high school and becoming the "popular" girl she never dreamed she could be. Cute, fun, and a bit more interesting than your typical high school flick. Famous line: "I'm not Josie Grosie anymore!"
9. Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion (1997)
When their 10 year high school reunion comes around, best friends Romy and Michelle realize they don't have much to show for all the time that's passed since graduation. That's when they hatch a plan: pretend to be the super successful and wealthy inventors of post-it notes, and become way more popular than they ever were in high school. This movie is very well-written, and the storyline is actually quite a bit more complex than most teen movies. The wit, charm, and hilarious one-liners are definitely not lacking here!
10. American Pie (1999)
This film stars Jason Biggs and features Alyson Hannigan before her "How I Met Your Mother" days. The main theme of the movie is four friends who are trying their darnedest to lose their virginity, as they constantly get made fun of by the school's most popular guy. Of course this movie depicts teen partying like most of the others, but it's also quite a bit more raunchy and crude than the other films I've mentioned. I would say that this film is definitely aimed more at teenage boys than girls, but that's just my humble opinion!
Nicole K (author) on January 28, 2016:
Thank you, Ms Dora! I'm glad you enjoyed it and might be watching one of the movies soon. A lot of them are on Netflix if you want to check them out!
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 28, 2016:
Interesting and very insightful! Haven't seen any of these movies, but I learned about them from you, and might watch one or two. Thanks!