A ‘Coming of Age’ movie usually takes place over the summer, there is a group of kids going on or going through some sort of adventure or tragedy which brings them closer or brings them to some sort of life decision. A lot of the time there is a first love or first kiss involved or another first…
For me they always give me that deep down longing for a simpler time. A wish for the carefree trappings of youth. Despite any tragic events that may occur they are, and will remain, the a-typical feel good films to me.
Here is a list, in no particular order, of my favorite Coming of Age Movies.
Ok, so this isn’t one movie, but it is the man who gave us more of these types of films than any other. Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Curly Sue, Some Kind of Wonderful… Not to mention all the Vacation films, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Weird Science, Mr. Mom, The Great Outdoors… The dude was feel good film deity. The whole list could consist solely of his movies. But since there are more movies out there that I like, I figured I would combine him into one entry. And what better way to show off his work than the tribute from the 82nd Academy Awards.
To most this is the quintessential film of the listed genre. The music…. the cars… It ticks all the qualifying boxes plus it has one of the best casts ever assembled. The number of big time stars that made a name for themselves because of this movie or after this movie is nuts. George Lucas really captured a slice of Americana when he filmed this picture. I have always loved this movie.
The Myth of the American Sleepover
It is the last weekend of Summer vacation and a group of kids tries to squeeze out the last moments of freedom before they get trapped in school. They want adventure and love, the hallmarks of this type of movie. A new entry into the genre, but it is a real throwback to what makes a good coming of age movie.
This movie was tailor made for Jesse Eisenberg. He plays his character to perfection. The kid is good and so is the film. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It wasn’t promoted very well when it came out in 2009, which for a film like this, is really the key to making or breaking it.
Dead Poets Society
1989, it was the Summer of Batman, and that movie was EVERYWHERE. Posters, clothes, glasses, lunch boxes, underwear… everywhere… I saw it. I loved it. But a few weeks earlier my life had been changed. I remember going to the movie theater to see this movie because it had Robin Williams in it plus it was something different. I have always been drawn to these types of movies. I digress… It was an early afternoon showing in the middle of the week so the theater was pretty much empty. I had my popcorn and soda and settled in to watch. From the opening scene all the way through the credits I don’t think I moved. Watching Dead Poets Society really changed something in me. It spoke to something inside me. Batman may have been the runaway blockbuster of that Summer but Dead Poets Society was my personal blockbuster.
And of course you have to have this…
Every time I see this movie I smile… and have a craving for Baby Ruth… hmmmmmmm…. At the time, I was the demographic for this movie. 1985. I was 9. There were two things I wanted more than anything that year; A time traveling DeLorean and to find the rich stuff. I wanted to be a Goonie so bad. I wanted to find a treasure map and go on a swashbuckling adventure. I remember drawing up a treasure map and making my Grandpa follow it with me. I had buried a little metal “My First Tool Box” box with a bunch of rocks in it. Grandpa lost interest but I followed that map back to the spot where the treasure was buried. Why? Duh… Goonies never say die!
Stand By Me
Again I hit the jackpot. I was 10 when this movie came out. So this movie was right in my wheelhouse. I had no desire to go find a dead body or anything like that but I did want to build a clubhouse. I even tried to build one in my backyard. It was the saddest thing you ever saw. Back then I didn’t have the mind for architecture. I took a bunch of lats that Dad used to hold on the plastic over the windows of our patio and I leaned them against a few trees. Yeah, it was a sad sight. But it was my clubhouse no matter how crappy it was.
Honorable mentions go to Juno, My Girl, School Ties, Take Me Home Tonight, Diner, With Honors, and The Sandlot.
There it is, for better or worse. That is my list of Coming of Age Movies.
Let me know…