There’s a certain charm that comes with any coming of age film that often leaves a person wondering why John Hughes couldn’t direct their life. But alas, this is no longer the 80’s and we’re stuck in the 21-century, where the era of quality movies has come to die. It’s a known fact that coming of age movies have had a huge decline ever since the many unwanted sequels to the ‘Home Alone’ franchise in the 90’s, and it’s not like teenagers can relate to the plethora of Disney channel original movies such as ‘High School Musical,’ where students randomly break out into song and synchronized dance routines.
Some people would argue that ‘Mean Girls’ is a coming of age story, but so was the movie it was based off: ‘Heathers,’ a story about a girl who falls in love with a self-destructive teenage boy and their descent to murder after accidentally poisoning plaid-clad, “Queen B”, Heather Chandler. If these two can make the list of coming of age movies, might as well add Brian De Palma’s adaptation of ‘Carrie,’ one of Stephen King’s most notable works about a girl with telekinetic powers who then proceeds to terrorize the prom after having pig’s blood dumped on her.
Names like Molly Ringwald and Matt Damon have become iconic, and it would be in everyone’s best interest that Hollywood didn’t remake classics such as ‘The Breakfast Club,’ and ‘Good Will Hunting,’ movies that were relevant at the time they were released, but would be lost in the archives of Netflix and the one-dollar bin at Walmart if remade. And the adaptations of John Green’s books into barely mediocre movies need to stop; even if that’s the only thing Hollywood’s good at—remakes and adaptations—and those are rarely enjoyable.
It’s true that the 2000’s have some honourable movies worth mentioning, such as the 2007 ‘Juno,’ a movie that follows the life of an independent teen confronting an unplanned pregnancy, and her struggle to choose between an abortion, or putting the child up for adoption. And ‘Easy A,’ about an unnoticed girl becoming her high school’s new harlot and eventually being blacklisted, from 2010, but these movies came under backlash from parents saying they covered sensitive subjects; subjects that made the movies what they were. Censorship of certain subjects is pointless because all this leaves this generation with is cringy, low budget movies such as ‘The DUFF’ and ’17 Again.’
Off the silver screen, it’s a different story. ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ was released last year and tells the story about the aftermath of Hannah Baker taking her life because of all the people that “made her do it.” There are mixed opinions about the show whose popularity keeps growing as season two is set to release in 2018; some people praise the show, others say the show wasn’t a proper portrayal of suicide and all the events that happen (i.e. Car crash, underage drinking, and sexual harassment.) Reporting of Suicide, a site that gives recommendations for covering the sensitive subject recommended not to mention how the suicide was executed, and it’s best not to include images of grieving friends and family and funerals in fear of slamming it; all aspects the creators of the show overlooked.
Coming of age tv series are a tricky thing, but it seems that ABC Studios had it figured out when they released ‘Boy Meets World’ in 1993. The series was a hit among children and teens with its character’s one-liners and real-life issues as it told the story of Cory Matthews and his struggles with school, friends, and romance, with help of his high school sweetheart Topanga Lawrence, his only best friend Shawn, and teacher Mr. Feeny. This generation does not need any more tv shows riddled with murder mysteries and pedophilia. *cough* Riverdale. *cough*
So, if Hollywood does finally come around to making coming of age movies, will they be funny, laugh-out-loud movies like ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ and ‘Superbad,’ or tear-jerking, heartbreakers such as ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ and ‘Dead Poets Society’?