Ah, the 90s. I get all nostalgic just thinking about a simpler time, before iPhones and Facebook, a time when teen movies were at their peak. The call to action that John Hughes had in the 80s with the Brat Pack films inspired the next decade of movies in a way no one could have anticipated. His legacy is still apparent, because we’re still talking about these movies. Maybe we’re just being old: “Back in my day, teen movies were all the rage, and I walked up hill both ways to school.” Or maybe we’re still talking about them because they actually were awesome.
Look, ask any 20-something to list some favorite movies and it’s almost guaranteed American Pie, 10 Things I Hate About You, The Breakfast Club, Can’t Hardly Wait, Dazed and Confused or Clueless is going to make that list. If they don’t admit to loving Clueless, they’re lying. Just look at Netflix. These classic movies are there in all their glory for us to re-watch time and time again.
Why were these movies so successful? Maybe because they portrayed teens as real people with real issues. They didn’t trivialize the things that we go through when we’re going through puberty. The characters were so relate-able. Every girl has a bit of Cher in her. Every guy has a tiny bit of Ethan Embry trying to finally get that popular girl’s attention. Everyone has that one party where they feel like they might turn their life around. That’s how high school feels. Everything is a big deal.
Looking back, it might be silly to think that we made such a big deal out of prom or losing our virginity or that one party where your crush might actually sweep you off your feet. But that’s only because they were big deals. We were teenagers (some of us still are), our concept of the “real world” is parties, crushes and figuring shit out. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a movie about a group of best friends also trying to figure their very similar shit out.
And the music! I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the soundtrack for American Pie is incredible, as is the soundtrack for Empire Records – both essential 90s movies. I have a Spotify playlist solely dedicated to 90s alt-rock found in my favorite 90s movies. The movies took songs we already loved and added them seamlessly into the plot of the films. I still get goosebumps when, in Cruel Intentions, Reese Witherspoon steps off the escalator at the train station to find Ryan Phillipe waiting for her, and “Colorblind” by the Counting Crows begins to play. I get giddy hearing “Semi-Charmed Life” in the opening credits of American Pie. Who doesn’t love Third Eye Blind? I mean come on.
We’ve had a serious lack of awesome teen movies in the late 2000s and I firmly believe that’s why children are growing up so fast. They never had a movie they could watch 1,000 times to help them remember that being a teenager is awesome.
Good news, though. That’s all about to change.
Director Jon Kasdan, who used to write on Dawson’s Creek AND Freaks and Geeks (can we get any more 90s?) is saving us all. He takes a familiar plot line — a party that could change everything, –and makes it his own in The First Time, which premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s about, you guessed it, the trials and tribulations related to losing your V-card.
It stars Dylan O’Brien from Teen Wolf, whom I happen to find awkward and adorable. He has a crush on the popular girl and some stuff gets crazy. It’s a blast from the 90s past, and I have insanely high hopes that this movie will spark another trend of awesome teen movies. It hits theaters October 19th. Check out the trailer below.
Also, tell me — what was your favorite 90’s teen movie? What do you think happened to the Brat Pack mentality? This is an open forum. Hollywood needs to know, bring the 90s back!!