Offbeat Teen Movies

by elizdere | created - 27 Mar 2016 | updated - 1 month ago | Public

This is a list for people who want to dig beyond the John Hughes movies, beyond the typical but somewhat clichéd teen movie to find something original or realistic or genuine. These are films about fitting in, making friends, falling in love, finding your purpose, or just figuring things out. Not every movie here is appropriate for every teenager, so read up on them. But they all offer something off the beaten path for those currently in their adolescence and those who have made it past those complicated years.

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1. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

PG-13 | 105 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

74 Metascore

High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer.

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon | Stars: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman

Votes: 117,544 | Gross: $6.74M

Don't let the quirky characters and cheeky videos fool you; this movie is high impact. I can only hope the book is as good.

2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

PG-13 | 103 min | Drama, Romance

67 Metascore

An introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world.

Director: Stephen Chbosky | Stars: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Paul Rudd

Votes: 437,516 | Gross: $17.74M

Just as good as the book. You won't want the emotional journey to end.

3. Rocket Science (2007)

R | 101 min | Comedy, Drama

73 Metascore

Looking for answers to life's big questions, a stuttering boy joins his high school debate team.

Director: Jeffrey Blitz | Stars: Reece Thompson, Anna Kendrick, Nicholas D'Agosto, Utkarsh Ambudkar

Votes: 12,709 | Gross: $0.71M

Utterly original.

4. Juno (2007)

PG-13 | 96 min | Comedy, Drama

81 Metascore

Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child.

Director: Jason Reitman | Stars: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman

Votes: 477,291 | Gross: $143.50M

5. Whip It (2009)

PG-13 | 111 min | Drama, Sport

68 Metascore

In Bodeen, Texas, an indie-rock loving misfit finds a way of dealing with her small-town misery after she discovers a roller derby league in nearby Austin.

Director: Drew Barrymore | Stars: Ellen Page, Drew Barrymore, Kristen Wiig, Sarah Habel

Votes: 62,353 | Gross: $13.04M

6. Heathers (1989)

R | 103 min | Comedy, Crime

72 Metascore

In order to get out of the snobby clique that is destroying her good-girl reputation, an intelligent teen teams up with a dark sociopath in a plot to kill the cool kids.

Director: Michael Lehmann | Stars: Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, Shannen Doherty, Lisanne Falk

Votes: 83,169 | Gross: $1.11M

Classic black comedy. Over the top and entertaining, but not for the weak.

7. Pump Up the Volume (1990)

R | 102 min | Comedy, Drama, Music

77 Metascore

Mark runs a pirate radio station and causes an uproar when he speaks his mind and enthralls fellow teens.

Director: Allan Moyle | Stars: Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis, Anthony Lucero, Andy Romano

Votes: 25,255 | Gross: $11.54M

8. Matinee (1993)

PG | 99 min | Comedy, Drama

A small-time film promoter releases a kitschy horror film during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Director: Joe Dante | Stars: John Goodman, Cathy Moriarty, Simon Fenton, Omri Katz

Votes: 8,946 | Gross: $9.53M

9. Sweet Sixteen (I) (2002)

R | 106 min | Crime, Drama

86 Metascore

Determined to have a normal family life once his mother gets out of prison, a Scottish teenager from a tough background sets out to raise the money for a home.

Director: Ken Loach | Stars: Martin Compston, Michelle Coulter, Annmarie Fulton, William Ruane

Votes: 12,492 | Gross: $0.03M

10. Ghost World (2001)

R | 111 min | Comedy, Drama

88 Metascore

With only the plan of moving in together after high school, two unusually devious friends seek direction in life. As a mere gag, they respond to a man's newspaper ad for a date, only to find it will greatly complicate their lives.

Director: Terry Zwigoff | Stars: Steve Buscemi, Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Renfro

Votes: 109,667 | Gross: $6.22M

11. Donnie Darko (2001)

R | 113 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

88 Metascore

A troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a man in a large rabbit suit who manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after he narrowly escapes a bizarre accident.

Director: Richard Kelly | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne

Votes: 717,126 | Gross: $1.48M

Dark and twisty. Contemplative is probably the best word for it.

12. It's Kind of a Funny Story (2010)

PG-13 | 101 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

63 Metascore

A clinically depressed teenager gets a new start after he checks himself into an adult psychiatric ward.

Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck | Stars: Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Roberts, Dana DeVestern

Votes: 129,988 | Gross: $6.35M

13. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008)

PG-13 | 90 min | Comedy, Drama, Music

64 Metascore

High school student Nick O'Leary, member of the Queercore band The Jerk Offs, meets college-bound Norah Silverberg when she asks him to be her boyfriend for five minutes.

Director: Peter Sollett | Stars: Michael Cera, Kat Dennings, Aaron Yoo, Rafi Gavron

Votes: 86,514 | Gross: $31.49M

14. Adventureland (2009)

R | 107 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

76 Metascore

In the summer of 1987, a college graduate takes a 'nowhere' job at his local amusement park, only to find it's the perfect course to get him prepared for the real world.

Director: Greg Mottola | Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds, Martin Starr

Votes: 149,278 | Gross: $16.03M

15. Superbad (2007)

R | 113 min | Comedy

76 Metascore

Two co-dependent high school seniors are forced to deal with separation anxiety after their plan to stage a booze-soaked party goes awry.

Director: Greg Mottola | Stars: Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader

Votes: 501,582 | Gross: $121.46M

Hilarious. Their friendship is absolutely adorable.

16. Easy A (2010)

PG-13 | 92 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

72 Metascore

A clean-cut high school student relies on the school's rumor mill to advance her social and financial standing.

Director: Will Gluck | Stars: Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Penn Badgley, Dan Byrd

Votes: 342,999 | Gross: $58.40M

Emma Stone is spot on, the kind of girl we all probably want to be in high school.

17. This Is England (2006)

Not Rated | 101 min | Crime, Drama

86 Metascore

A young boy becomes friends with a gang of skinheads. Friends soon become like family, and relationships will be pushed to the very limit.

Director: Shane Meadows | Stars: Thomas Turgoose, Stephen Graham, Jo Hartley, Andrew Shim

Votes: 112,604 | Gross: $0.33M

A young boy seeks friendship with a group of skinheads. Heavy stuff, but the need for connection is universal.

18. Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

R | 97 min | Comedy, Romance

42 Metascore

Set on the last day of camp, in the hot summer of 1981, a group of counselors try to complete their unfinished business before the day ends.

Director: David Wain | Stars: Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Michael Showalter, Marguerite Moreau

Votes: 52,138 | Gross: $0.29M

Fantastic teen ensemble comedy. Lots of fun characters and hijinks.

19. Kick-Ass (2010)

R | 117 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

66 Metascore

Dave Lizewski is an unnoticed high school student and comic book fan who one day decides to become a superhero, even though he has no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so.

Director: Matthew Vaughn | Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nicolas Cage, Chloë Grace Moretz, Garrett M. Brown

Votes: 511,254 | Gross: $48.07M

20. Submarine (2010)

R | 97 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

76 Metascore

15-year-old Oliver Tate has two objectives: To lose his virginity before his next birthday, and to extinguish the flame between his mother and an ex-lover who has resurfaced in her life.

Director: Richard Ayoade | Stars: Craig Roberts, Sally Hawkins, Paddy Considine, Noah Taylor

Votes: 82,455 | Gross: $0.47M

21. Rushmore (1998)

R | 93 min | Comedy, Drama

86 Metascore

The extracurricular king of Rushmore Preparatory School is put on academic probation.

Director: Wes Anderson | Stars: Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Olivia Williams, Seymour Cassel

Votes: 162,448 | Gross: $17.11M

Not one of Wes Anderson's most likable characters, but that's part of the point. A bunch of hard to like people struggling when they discover they like someone and want to be liked back.

22. Saved! (2004)

PG-13 | 92 min | Comedy, Drama

62 Metascore

When a girl attending a Christian high school becomes pregnant, she finds herself ostracized and demonized, as all of her former friends turn on her.

Director: Brian Dannelly | Stars: Jena Malone, Mandy Moore, Macaulay Culkin, Patrick Fugit

Votes: 43,754 | Gross: $8.94M

23. Clueless (1995)

PG-13 | 97 min | Comedy, Romance

68 Metascore

A rich high school student tries to boost a new pupil's popularity, but reckons without affairs of the heart getting in the way.

Director: Amy Heckerling | Stars: Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd

Votes: 166,620 | Gross: $56.63M

This film is in a world of its own, from the clothes to the lingo, everything is interesting and memorable, but with imperfect characters you really care about. Loosely based on Jane Austen's Emma.

24. The Bling Ring (2013)

R | 90 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

66 Metascore

Inspired by actual events, a group of fame-obsessed teenagers use the internet to track celebrities' whereabouts in order to rob their homes.

Director: Sofia Coppola | Stars: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Claire Julien

Votes: 80,227 | Gross: $5.84M

25. Thirteen (2003)

R | 100 min | Drama

70 Metascore

A thirteen-year-old girl's relationship with her mother is put to the test as she discovers drugs, sex, and petty crime in the company of her cool but troubled best friend.

Director: Catherine Hardwicke | Stars: Evan Rachel Wood, Holly Hunter, Nikki Reed, Vanessa Hudgens

Votes: 77,479 | Gross: $4.60M

Explores the darkest sides of adolescence, one that you hope never to have any experiences with.

26. The Virgin Suicides (1999)

R | 97 min | Drama, Romance

76 Metascore

A group of male friends become obsessed with five mysterious sisters who are sheltered by their strict, religious parents in suburban Detroit in the mid 1970s.

Director: Sofia Coppola | Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett, James Woods, Kathleen Turner

Votes: 138,528 | Gross: $4.86M

27. Running with Scissors (2006)

R | 116 min | Comedy, Drama

52 Metascore

Young Augusten Burroughs absorbs experiences that could make for a shocking memoir: the son of an alcoholic father and an unstable mother, he's handed off to his mother's therapist, Dr. Finch, and spends his adolescent years as a member of Finch's bizarre extended family.

Director: Ryan Murphy | Stars: Joseph Cross, Annette Bening, Brian Cox, Gwyneth Paltrow

Votes: 21,558 | Gross: $6.75M

28. The Life Before Her Eyes (2007)

R | 90 min | Drama, Fantasy, Mystery

38 Metascore

A woman's survivor's guilt from a Columbine-like event twenty years ago causes her present-day idyllic life to fall apart.

Director: Vadim Perelman | Stars: Uma Thurman, Evan Rachel Wood, Eva Amurri Martino, Gabrielle Brennan

Votes: 13,312 | Gross: $0.30M

29. Y Tu Mamá También (2001)

R | 106 min | Drama

88 Metascore

In Mexico, two teenage boys and an attractive older woman embark on a road trip and learn a thing or two about life, friendship, sex, and each other.

Director: Alfonso Cuarón | Stars: Maribel Verdú, Gael García Bernal, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Ana López Mercado

Votes: 110,813 | Gross: $13.62M

Realistic look at teenage boys in Mexico, doing everything that guys do at that age: smoke weed, masturbate, have sex, hang out, and try to figure out what they're doing. Also, it's a beautifully shot road trip.

30. The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)

R | 102 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

87 Metascore

A teen artist living in 1970s San Francisco enters into an affair with her mother's boyfriend.

Director: Marielle Heller | Stars: Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgård, Kristen Wiig, Christopher Meloni

Votes: 28,227 | Gross: $1.48M

Great exploration of a teenage girl's sexuality. Nice change of pace compared to focusing on the man's side of things.

31. Election (1999)

R | 103 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

83 Metascore

A high school teacher's personal life becomes complicated as he works with students during the school elections, particularly with an obsessive overachiever determined to become student body president.

Director: Alexander Payne | Stars: Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein, Jessica Campbell

Votes: 85,887 | Gross: $14.88M

Another black comedy. Absolutely brutal.

32. October Sky (1999)

PG | 108 min | Biography, Drama, Family

71 Metascore

The true story of Homer Hickam, a coal miner's son who was inspired by the first Sputnik launch to take up rocketry against his father's wishes.

Director: Joe Johnston | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, Laura Dern, Chris Owen

Votes: 78,181 | Gross: $32.48M

Based on the memoir, Rocket Boys. It's a bit more straightforward than other films on this list, but it's inspiring and sincere and not everyone's go-to teen film.

33. Sing Street (2016)

PG-13 | 106 min | Comedy, Drama, Music

79 Metascore

A boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980s escapes his strained family life by starting a band to impress the mysterious girl he likes.

Director: John Carney | Stars: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Jack Reynor

Votes: 79,825 | Gross: $3.24M

34. Eighth Grade (2018)

R | 93 min | Comedy, Drama

89 Metascore

An introverted teenage girl tries to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth grade year before leaving to start high school.

Director: Bo Burnham | Stars: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Jake Ryan

Votes: 54,348 | Gross: $13.54M

35. Empire Records (1995)

PG-13 | 90 min | Comedy, Drama, Music

30 Metascore

Twenty-four hours in the lives of the young employees at Empire Records when they all grow up and become young adults thanks to each other and the manager. They all face the store joining a chain store with strict rules.

Director: Allan Moyle | Stars: Anthony LaPaglia, Debi Mazar, Maxwell Caulfield, Rory Cochrane

Votes: 47,267 | Gross: $0.30M

36. Sierra Burgess Is a Loser (2018)

PG-13 | 105 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

60 Metascore

A case of mistaken identity results in unexpected romance when the most popular girl in high school and the biggest loser must come together to win over their crushes.

Director: Ian Samuels | Stars: Shannon Purser, Kristine Froseth, RJ Cyler, Noah Centineo

Votes: 31,562



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