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:
* 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!