Tuesday, November 3, 2009

YA at the Movies

I'm a sucker for coming of age stories. That time of life is so incredibly interesting to me--it's all I write about and it's evident in the stories I choose for my students, and it's what I prefer to watch if I'm actually going to sit down in front of a movie.

This weekend I caught two. The Wackness stars Josh Peck, the sweet-faced goof usually found mugging on Nickelodeon's Drake and Josh. It was a little disconcerting to watch Josh smoke dope and have sex, but I quickly got over myself because the kid is a good actor. The script? Not so much. With YA, in books, films, and TV shows, it's so important that the emotions ring true to both teens (who are immersed in that reality) and adults (who tend to vividly remember that time in their lives). This movie just doesn't hit the right marks. All the teen characters seem off because the lines are polished to adult perfection. Ugh.

The other film I watched was a total classic: The Outsiders. It gets everything right. If you haven't watched it in awhile, check your listings--it's all over cable. The absolute beauty of The Outsiders got me thinking about successful YA movies, the ones who offer those moments of complete recognition, the ones so true to what it felt like to be fourteen or sixteen or eighteen, the ones you remember because your appreciation of them deepens with time. Here are a few of my favorites:

* Dogfight
* Lucas
* Friends (Not the TV show, the French movie from 1971--yeah, I know, but it's good.)
* Dazed and Confused
* The Sure Thing
* Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Feel free to add your faves in the comment box. I'm always on the lookout for Netflix picks!


  1. I saw Josh Peck in this movie called Mean Creek and it shocked me a LOT to see him cussing so hardcore. It was a good movie though. :)

  2. Honestly, I think Dazed and Confused was shot at my high school...It caught me and my friends perfectly...

  3. Amy--Shocking coming from him, isn't it? Was Mean Creek any good?

    Chantal--I love that movie so much. How cool that it was shot at your high school!

  4. Oh, I love Lucas and Dazed and Confused and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Classic, classic movies.

    Have you ever watched Friday Night Lights? If not, you absolutely need to. Nothing captures coming of age the way FNL does. I hate football, but that show is not to be missed.

  5. Amy--Whoops! Didn't read your last line correctly. I'm not doing NaNoWriMo, but I am feverishly working on my WIP. I don't think my brain is working correctly!

    L & L--So many people have told me to watch this show! I think it might be my netflix addiction come December!

  6. My two favorite YA movies are probably Say Anything and Can't Hardly Wait. As far as TV, I don't think anything could beat My So Called Life, but Dawson's Creek came close. Oh and I LOVED The Wonder Years too.

  7. The Wonder Years! What a great show. My So-Called Life is like the gold standard. The adult characters were done so well, too.

    I've never seen Can't Hardly Wait! Netflix here I come!