This post: 25 Classic Must-See Movies to Watch with Your Teen
Written by: Marybeth Bock
Do you ever wish you could slow down the hands of time just a bit so you could spend more quality time with your teen?
But life sometimes gets in the way of our good intentions.
Our teens are so often over-scheduled with school, sports, extracurriculars and, in some cases, a part-time job, while we’re busy juggling family, work, the house, endless errands and outside commitments. We look back and, somehow, an entire week has gone by and we realize we haven’t had a chance to sit down with our teen or have an entire conversation that doesn’t revolve around reminders, to-do lists, carpooling or team practice.
When you start to feel as if the emotional and physical connection with your teen is stretching a bit too thin, there’s a surefire way to get them to spend a couple of hours with you, especially if it involves your teen’s favorite snacks… movies!
That’s right! Cue up a great movie, whip up your teen’s favorite movie-watching snacks, leave room for them on the couch next to you, and reconnect over a great story!
If you’re looking for ideas, we rounded up a few classic movies you have to watch with your teen – movies that will make you and your teen laugh, think, ponder and maybe even shed a few tears. From movies that highlight the trials and tribulations of teen life to movies that talk about love, courage, determination and overcoming fear, here’s a great list of 25 fantastic (and classic) must-see movies to watch with your teen.
25 Classic Must-See Movies to Watch with Your Teen
The Breakfast Club (1985)
I’ll start with this classic teen genre movie because it simply never gets old. Every teen and adult can easily relate to at least one of the characters in this John Hughes-directed film, and it’s sure to start your teen talking about student cliques and stereotypes at their own school.
The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
Two teenage cancer patients meet and fall in love in this poignant but inspiring film based on the popular young adult novel by John Green. Be sure to have the tissues handy for this one. WATCH THE TRAILER
17 Again (2009)
An ungrateful Dad gets the chance to correct the mistakes of his past and change his life when he is miraculously transformed back into a teenager played by Zac Efron. Who doesn’t wonder what it would be like to go back to high school with your adult wisdom and perspective? WATCH THE TRAILER
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
This quirky comedy is the story of one awkward teen befriending another awkward teen. It will inspire anyone who watches it to embrace their own awkwardness and walk to the beat of their own drum. It also includes one of the best dance sequences in a movie ever! WATCH THE TRAILER
Love, Simon (2018)
This movie is not only an adorable high school rom-com, but it also made history as the first major Hollywood studio film about a gay teenage romance. It’s a wonderful story about acceptance and friendship that both teens and parents will find heartwarming. WATCH THE TRAILER
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
A beautiful coming-of-age movie that captures the pain, fragility, love and thrill of being young. Your teen will walk away from this story with lessons about friendship and overcoming the traumas that we all experience during life. WATCH THE TRAILER
Dead Poets’ Society (1989)
I consider this a must-see film because it’s one of Robin Williams’ best performances, playing a beloved high school English teacher who challenges his students to think outside the box. This movie is bound to spark some conversation about the parental pressures that so many teens face. WATCH THE TRAILER
Mean Girls (2004)
Another “never gets old” movie with a star-studded cast led by Lindsay Lohan, this movie delves into high school cliques and the perils of trying to be popular. You’ll be quoting lines in this movie for years! The film itself was so popular it’s now a Broadway musical as well. WATCH THE TRAILER
The Hate U Give (2018)
This film is based on the young adult novel by Angie Thomas that depicts what happens to a community after a white police officer kills an unarmed Black teenager. It includes strong language and discusses important topics like racism and the intersection of police brutality and bias. WATCH THE TRAILER
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Of all the classic must-see movies to watch with your teen, this one from John Hughes is one everyone loves! Who doesn’t wish they’d called in sick to high school one day and borrowed a Ferrari to drive around and have a big city adventure with their best friends?
The Blind Side (2009)
Based on the true story of a traumatized teen who became an All-American football player and first-round NFL draft pick with the help of a caring woman and her family. This movie is guaranteed to make you laugh and likely cry with its hopeful and heartwarming message. WATCH THE TRAILER
Easy A (2010)
Emma Stone is a charming high school student in this smart and witty twist on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter. It’s an entertaining moral tale about how a small lie can spiral out of control and affect so many people. WATCH THE TRAILER
The Duff (2015)
A frumpy high school girl learns that she’s known as the “duff” – designated ugly fat friend – to her prettier and more popular friends and she tries to reinvent herself with the help of a charming jock. There’s some romance and some comedy, and a great opportunity to talk about the social pecking order at your teen’s school. WATCH THE TRAILER
Friday Night Lights (2004)
It doesn’t matter if you or your teen like football, this movie draws you in with its intense action and realistic characters. It takes a hard look at the “win at all costs” mentality of high school sports that exists in some places of our country. This movie inspired the great TV show of the same name that ran for five years. WATCH THE TRAILER
Pitch Perfect (2012)
What’s not to love in a movie about an acapella group of misfit college girls doing what they love? The very talented Anna Kendrick leads this entertaining cast and you’ll be left happily singing the soundtrack songs for days. Enjoy the two sequels as well. WATCH THE TRAILER
The Outsiders (1983)
Francis Ford Coppola directs this adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s famous young adult novel about teen gangs in rural Oklahoma. It’s definitely worth watching for the cast that includes an amazing collection of then-rising stars like Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, and Ralph Macchio. WATCH THE TRAILER
This tale of a pregnant high school girl who finds a couple to adopt her baby is a smart and sensitive film that won an Oscar for best screenplay. It’s a charming coming-of-age film with an outstanding cast. WATCH THE TRAILER
13 Going On 30 (2004)
A young teen girl is humiliated at her 13th birthday party and wishes she were 30 years old. Shortly after, she magically awakens to this reality and must adjust to life as an adult with a job and a boyfriend. Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo have wonderful on-screen chemistry and there’s great music and laughs to accompany messages about popularity and staying true to yourself. WATCH THE TRAILER
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Molly Ringwald shines as the not-very popular high school girl who must choose between the affections of her quirky childhood sweetheart or a rich and popular guy she meets at school. Another classic film with a fabulous soundtrack that deals with issues like class differences and dysfunctional families.
The Hunger Games Series (2012 – 2015)
These four films are based on the popular young adult books written by Suzanne Collins that are dystopian fiction set in a post-apocalyptic nation that pits teens against each other in deadly battles. These films are action-packed and are sure to start some interesting discussions with your teen about corrupt governments, imbalances of power and wealth, and rebellion. WATCH THE TRAILER
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)
Another fantastic film based on a novel, this movie tells the story of four best friends who spend their first summer apart from one another while they share a magical pair of jeans that they pass around to each other. It’s a thoughtful and intelligent movie about friendship that teen girls will especially love. WATCH THE TRAILER
Alicia Silverstone sparkles as Cher, a lovable and witty high school student in Beverly Hills who is constantly trying to help others. The movie is very loosely based on the novel Emma by author Jane Austen, and it is so fun to watch and appealing on many levels. WATCH THE TRAILER
The Harry Potter Series (2001-2011)
Eight movies that continue to enthrall audiences, these films cover a wide range of themes: friendship, family, power, greed, prejudice, self-sacrifice, humility, and mortality. Perfect for movie marathons over long weekends with teens. WATCH THE TRAILER
A Walk to Remember (2002)
A rebellious teenager plays a prank that goes wrong and is forced to do community service activities as a consequence. There, he meets a reverend’s daughter who he has nothing in common with, so of course, they develop a relationship. This romantic drama starring Mandy Moore will definitely have you all reaching for the tissues. WATCH THE TRAILER
A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
An all-time family favorite of ours, this dark comedy gets funnier with each viewing. Jim Carrey is brilliant as Count Olaf, an evil man trying to swindle an inheritance away from three orphan siblings who have mysteriously lost their parents. Based on the Lemony Snicket books, the movie is full of clever dialog and wonderful cameos from superb actors. WATCH THE TRAILER
Marybeth Bock, MPH, is Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor, and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing – as long as iced coffee is involved. Her work can be found on numerous websites and in two books. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.