These four 80s teen films remain unmatched 

These four 80s teen films remain unmatched 

Zoe Harris, staff writer

The 1980s had a lot of great movies about the teenage experience. These are my personal favorite. 

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Ferris Bueller has an uncanny skill at cutting classes and getting away with it. Intending to make one last duck-out before graduation, Ferris calls in sick, “borrows” a Ferrari, and embarks on a one-day journey through the streets of Chicago. On Ferris’ trail is high school principal Rooney, determined to catch him in the act.” Google Film Synopsis. 

The first time I watched this movie was not too long ago. I have known about it for a while because it’s a very popular movie. Some even consider it the best movie ever made. I saw a TikTok about it on my For You page, and I thought it was funny so I decided to watch the movie that evening.

Going into it, I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. I thought it would be a comedic, surface level movie that was made for people who were nothing like me. What I found instead was the most accurate representation of the stress high school academics can cause that I’ve seen in a while. I think that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a timeless movie and everyone can learn something from it. It was evident in the 1980s and it is evident now that, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” 

The Outsiders 

“… Tells the story of Ponyboy Curtis and his struggles with right and wrong in a society in which he believes that he is an outsider.” Cliffsnotes. 

This movie is the film adaption of one of my favorite books. The Outsiders is one of the greatest stories ever told, regardless of the format. The movie and book both have the charm of following an endearing protagonist through times that just can’t seem to get better. With themes such as divided communities, preserving childhood innocence, and discovering an individual identity, it is a very moving film. Though the circumstances the Curtis brothers are in may be foreign to some and hard to truly understand, everyone knows what it feels like to be lonely or afraid. Most people know what it feels like to have close familial and friend relationships. Stripping all of the relatability away, you still have a phenomenal story that works in any decade.

Dead Poets Society

A new English teacher, John Keating (Robin Williams), is introduced to an all-boys preparatory school that is known for its ancient traditions and high standards. He uses unorthodox methods to reach out to his students, who face enormous pressures from their parents and the school. With Keating’s help, students Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard), Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke) and others learn to break out of their shells, pursue their dreams and seize the day.” Google Film Synopsis. 

Dead Poets Society is one of the best movies I have ever seen. It is amazingly entertaining, heartfelt, hopeful, and lacks any traces of cynicism. Watching this movie is like a long nap after a hard week. The characters are so vibrant and real, and even though their hardships don’t hold a candle to most people’s, I couldn’t help but want them to succeed.

The main ensemble is teenagers, like every other movie on this list. The movie is set in the late 50s, so it may not truly deserve a spot on this list, but it is an 80s movie by release date. I think teens of that time period were just as affected by it as I was. In this movie, the character’s teen years are controlled by rigid teachers and strict, emotionally absent parents. Through all of this, the characters manage to be idealistic and open to new perspectives that change their lives undeniably.

While flawed, this movie does an excellent job of creating an atmosphere anyone would love to be a part of. I highly recommend it, and I don’t know if any new movies can take its place in my heart. 

The Breakfast Club

Five high school students from different walks of life endure a Saturday detention under a power-hungry principal. The disparate group includes rebel John, princess Claire, outcast Allison, brainy Brian and Andrew, the jock. Each has a chance to tell his or her story, making the others see them a little differently — and when the day ends, they question whether school will ever be the same.” Google Film Synopsis. 

The Breakfast Club essentially founded the teen movie genre as we know it today. The first time I watched this movie I wasn’t a teenager. Rewatching it, I understand it more than ever.

It’s funny to imagine an adult having to think so hard to capture the essence of teen life, considering they were a teenager at some point. It is something that happens, because times change. I think John Hughes did a great job representing the feeling of being lost in your teenage years. The decision to have each main character representing a high school clique and then for them to break down all of the stereotypes associated with it was very genius.

It’s no wonder that The Breakfast Club is a cultural favorite. It’s timeless in every sense of the word. There will always be jocks, rebels, brainiacs, introverts, and popular girls. There will always be teen angst and generation gaps. The Breakfast Club was one of many great movies from the 1980s, and I learned a lot from it.