28 classic Teen Movies to watch with your teen (Or for them to watch with friends)

One of the most challenging aspects of parenting teenagers is finding ways to connect with them. One of my favourite hacks with my teen is to watch a classic movie together.

We do watch current movies, but there is something extra wonderful about curling up on the sofa together to watch an absolute classic from the 80s, 90s or noughties (aughts).

Here is a list of some of the best teen movies from the Gen X and Millenial teen years that stand the test of time as absolute classics.

Some of the movies have stood the test of time, others, like my top pick, The Breakfast Club, have elements in them that haven’t. I see these as great discussion points to open up a conversation.

Only you will know what level of teenage shenanigans you are comfortable allowing your teen to watch. Browse the list and take your pick.

classic Teen movies that teens today will love

1. The Breakfast Club (1985)

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Set in the 1980s, The Breakfast Club is possibly one of the greatest teen movies of all time, by the legendary director, John Hughes.

It is a coming-of-age classic that brings together five high school students from different cliques who converge in a Saturday detention session.

Over the course of the day, the group, which includes the brain, the athlete, the basket case, the rich princess, and the ‘criminal’, share their stories and struggles, discovering that they have more in common than they thought.

This film is a quintessential exploration of teen stereotypes and the pressures of high school life, making it a perfect watch for parents and their teenage children.

2. Dead Poets Society (1989)

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Dead Poets Society is an inspiring drama about an unconventional English teacher, Mr. Keating, who uses poetry to embolden his students to pursue their passions and question the norms.

His teachings have a profound impact on a group of boys at a conservative boarding school, challenging them to break free from the expectations placed upon them.

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This poignant film addresses themes of individuality, conformity, and the importance of seizing the day, offering a powerful message for both teens and their parents.

3. Sixteen Candles (1984)

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In this archetypal 1980s teen film, Sixteen Candles tells the story of Samantha Baker, a high school sophomore who faces the double disappointment of her family forgetting her sixteenth birthday and her crush not knowing she exists.

The film captures the angst and excitement of teenage life, along with the style and music of the decade. It’s a humorous yet heartfelt trip down memory lane that parents and teens can enjoy together.

4. Grease (1978)

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Ok, so this film was actually released at the end of the 70s, but it has been watched religiously by teens through the 80s, 90s, aughts, teens and into the current 20s, so I just had to include it.

Grease is one of the greatest teen films of all time, despite the rather comical real life ages of actors playing the teen characters.

The musical is set in the 1950s and focuses on the romance between greaser Danny Zuko and the sweet new girl in town, Sandy Olsson.

With its much-loved songs and wonderful dance numbers, this 1970s film explores themes of love, friendship, and the trials of high school life.

5. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, was released slap bang in the middle of the 1980s. It stars Matthew Broderick as charismatic high school senior Ferris Bueller, as Ferris fakes an illness to skip school and embark on a wild adventure through Chicago with his girlfriend and best friend.

The film captures the spirit of youth and rebellion, as Ferris outsmarts adults and authority figures, making it an entertaining watch for parents, teens and a reminder to live life to the fullest.

6. Back to the Future (1985)

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Back to the Future is a sci-fi adventure comedy from the mid-1980s that follows teenager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) as he travels back in time to the 1950s using a time machine built by the eccentric scientist Doc Brown.

Marty must ensure his teenage parents-to-be meet and fall in love, or he’ll cease to exist. This film is a thrilling ride that never gets tired, blending humor, action, and plenty of heartwarming moments.

7. Dirty Dancing (1987)

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Set in the early 1960s and released in the late 1980s, Dirty Dancing stars Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.

The film tells the story of Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman, who falls for her dance instructor, Johnny Castle, while vacationing with her family at a Catskills resort.

The film has some of the most iconic dance scenes of all time and a equally memorable soundtrack.

It delivers a tale of first love and personal growth that will resonate with both parents and teens.

8. Footloose (1984)

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I know this film has been remade, but seriously, do yourself and your teen a favour and watch the original.

Footloose is yet another 1980s classic that centres on Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon), a teenager who moves to a small town where dancing and rock music have been banned.

Ren challenges the conservative local laws, revitalising the town and its youth through the power of dance and music.

This film is a celebration of expression and the rebellious spirit of youth, making it a great choice for family movie night.

9. Heathers (1989)

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I’ll say up front, this is a film for 15 years olds upwards and not really suitable for younger teens. But it is a classic, so I have to include it.

Heathers is a dark comed, with the emphasis firmly on DARK, from the late 1980s that turns the typical teen genre on its head. It stars Winona Ryder and Christian Slater.

It follows Veronica Sawyer, a high school girl who navigates a clique of popular girls all named Heather.

The film takes a satirical look at social cliques, teenage angst, and the desire for popularity, culminating in a twisted plot that involves romance and revenge.

Its edgy content and sharp dialogue make it a cult classic.

10. Pretty In Pink (1986)

Pretty In Pink is a classic 1980s teen drama centred around Andie Walsh, a working-class girl with a unique sense of style.

She finds herself torn between her childhood sweetheart and a rich playboy. The film addresses issues of class, social cliques, and young love, making it a timeless tale that continues to resonate with new generations of teenagers and their parents.

11. The Outsiders (1983)

The Outsiders, a film from the early 1980s, is based on S.E. Hinton’s novel and delves into the lives of two rival teen gangs: the Greasers and the Socs.

When a violent altercation leads to unexpected tragedy, the characters must confront the harsh realities of class conflict and the bonds of brotherhood.

This 80s classic is a compelling tale of youth and the struggles of growing up, perfect for parents and teens to watch and use to discuss the issues it raises.

12. The Lost Boys (1987)

The Lost Boys is a late 1980s horror-comedy that follows two brothers who move to a new town and soon discover that it’s plagued by a gang of vampires.

The film blends humor with chills and is known for its unique take on vampire mythology.

It’s a cult favorite that offers a mix of ’80s nostalgia and supernatural thrills, appealing to families with older teens who enjoy a good scare with a side.

13. Running on Empty (1988)

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Running on Empty is a drama about a family of fugitives who have been on the run since the parents, former political activists, bombed a lab during the Vietnam War.

The focus is on the 17 year old son, Danny Pope (River Phoenix), a talented pianist who longs for a stable life and dreams of attending Juilliard.

The film explores themes of family, consequences, and personal choice, with River Phoenix’s performance earning critical acclaim.

14. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is an off-the-wall science fiction comedy that follows two lovable but dim-witted high school friends, Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan, who are on the verge of failing their history class.

To prevent failure, which would alter the future drastically, they receive a time-traveling phone booth from a visitor from the future.

The duo embarks on a hilarious journey through time, collecting historical figures like Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln, and Socrates for their school project, leading to a series of comedic and enlightening misadventures.

15. Clueless (1995)

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Clueless is a frothy teen comedy set in the 1990s that follows the life of Cher Horowitz, a wealthy and superficial high school student who enjoys playing matchmaker and giving makeovers.

When Cher decides to take a new student under her wing, she realizes that her own life isn’t as perfect as she thought.

With its witty dialogue and satirical take on teen culture, this movie is a delightful portrayal of adolescence that will entertain both parents and teens. It’s also one of the earliest sightings of Paul Rudd, who has gone on to be one of the biggest movie and TV stars around.

16. 13 Going On 30 (2004)

This early 2000s romantic comedy-fantasy tells the story of Jenna Rink, a 13-year-old girl who makes a wish to be “thirty, flirty, and thriving” and wakes up the next day as a 30-year-old woman.

As Jenna navigates the complexities of adult life with the innocence of a child, she learns valuable lessons about what is truly important.

13 Going On 30 is an ultimately uplifting film that will resonate with parents and remind teens to cherish their youth.

17. Dazed and Confused (1993)

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Dazed and Confused, a film from the early 1990s, captures the last day of high school in 1976 Texas. Directed by Richard Linklater, it is also the archetypal ‘slacker generation’ movie.

It follows a group of teenagers as they celebrate the start of summer with parties, romance, and self-discovery. Check out the hairstyle of a very young Matthew McConaughey!

18. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

This 1990s teen rom-com is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, set in a high school context.

It revolves around the Stratford sisters: Kat, an independent and strong-willed senior, and Bianca, who longs to date but can’t until Kat does.

A new student, Cameron, devises a plan to woo Bianca by finding someone to date Kat, leading to unexpected romances and heartfelt revelations.

This film is full of ’90s cultural references that bring the nostalgia and a timeless story of love and self-discovery.

The film’s authentic portrayal of youth culture at the time, an iconic rock soundtrack, brings a sense of nostalgia for grunge and slacker-style and make it a relatable watch for both parents and teens.

19. She’s All That (1999)

She’s All That is a teen romantic comedy where high school jock Zack Siler bets he can turn artsy loner Laney Boggs into prom queen material, only to find himself falling for her. The film explores themes of transformation and authenticity, set against the backdrop of high school hierarchy and teenage romance.

20. Pitch Perfect (2012)

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Pitch Perfect is a musical comedy from the early 2010s that follows Beca Mitchell as she joins an all-girls acapella group, the Barden Bellas, in college.

As the group prepares to compete against their male rivals in a campus competition, the group undergoes a transformation and forms a close bond.

This film is filled with humor, catchy music, and a message about finding your voice, making it a fun and uplifting movie.

21. The Princess Diaries (2001)

The Princess Diaries is a coming-of-age comedy that follows Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway), a socially awkward high school girl who learns she is the princess of a small European country named Genovia.

Under the tutelage of her strict grandmother, Queen Clarisse Renaldi (Julie Andrews), Mia undergoes a transformation and grapples with the challenges of her newfound royal status while trying to maintain her ordinary life.

22. Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

Bend It Like Beckham is an early 2000s film that follows Jess Bhamra, a British-Indian girl with a passion for soccer, who must balance her family’s traditional expectations with her dreams of playing professionally.

As she joins a local women’s team, Jess finds friendship, love, and her own path.

This uplifting story celebrates cultural diversity, gender roles, and following one’s passion, making it a great pick for family movie nights.

23. Mean Girls (2004)

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Mean Girls is a sharp and witty film from the 2000s that delves into the cutthroat world of high school social hierarchies and is as relevant today as it was back in the aughts.

Yes, there’s been a recent remake, but the original is the absolute GOAT.

New student Cady Heron enters public school for the first time after being homeschooled in Africa and quickly learns about the unwritten rules of popularity.

The film tackles themes of identity, friendship, and the impact of cliques, making it a relevant and educational movie for teens and their parents.

24. Juno (2007)

Juno is a critically acclaimed indie film from the late 2000s that offers a smart and heartwarming take on teenage pregnancy.

Juno MacGuff, a witty high school student, faces unexpected pregnancy and makes the decision to find the perfect adoptive parents for her unborn child.

The film’s honest dialogue, quirky characters, and touching moments make it a thought-provoking watch that sparks meaningful conversations between parents and teens.

25. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Now this isn’t strictly a ‘teen’ movie, but it has teens in it and is a must-watch for teens as far as I am concerned. My teen certain loves it.

Little Miss Sunshine is a mid-2000s dramedy that showcases the dysfunctional Hoover family as they embark on a cross-country trip in a VW bus to get their young daughter, Olive, to a beauty pageant.

The film explores themes of success, failure, and the definition of winning, all while providing laughs and poignant moments. It’s a film that parents and teens can enjoy together, offering a look at the importance of family support and acceptance.

26. Kidulthood (2006)

I’d watch this film with teens aged 16 or over. It’s raw and gritty, but a very worthwhile watch.

Kidulthood is a British drama that delves into the lives of a group of Ladbroke Grove, West London teenagers over the course of 48 hours.

After a classmate’s suicide, the teens are given a day off from school, leading them into a world of parties, fights, and illicit activities.

The film portrays the harsh realities of urban youth culture, exploring themes of bullying, peer pressure, and the search for identity amidst the challenges of adolescence.

27. The Inbetweeners Movie (2011)

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This is another movie more suitable for older teens.

The movie follows the misadventures of four socially awkward friends—Will, Simon, Jay, and Neil—as they graduate from secondary (high) school and embark on a lads’ holiday to Crete.

Hoping for a trip filled with partying, romance, and freedom, they instead experience a series of humorous and often cringe-worthy mishaps, including possibly the best worst dance scene of all time.

The film is an extension of the popular UK TV series, offering a comedic take on the transition from teenage life to adulthood.

28. The Fault In Our Stars (2014)

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Ok, sneaking this film from 2014 into the line-up because it is beautiful and a must-watch.

The Fault In Our Stars, is a more contemporary teen drama from the 2010s, is based on the bestselling novel by John Green.

It tells the poignant story of Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, two teenagers who meet in a cancer support group and fall in love.

The film explores themes of mortality, love, and the meaning of life, providing a deeply emotional experience for both teens and their parents.

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