Teen movies: are they really just for teenagers? Definitely not. There comes a time in everyone’s life when nostalgia sets in. Personally, I noticed a new found love for my favourite Disney movies while in college: The Lion King, Aladdin, Snow White, The Little Mermaid. Take me back to my youth on a Technicolor unicorn, please!
What was interesting about this discovery was that I was not the only one. Disney night became somewhat of a ‘thing’ in our college house. Microwave popcorn, tea and KitKats were the bread and butter of a cheap student night in. We even had guest viewers on some nights, so votes were cast on what movies we should watch, and in what particular order we should view (serious stuff here folks). A wide screen TV and gas-fired heating sure can draw the crowds.
There’s something pleasant about touching base with our formative years every now and again, and I highly encourage you to take a trip back via the Disney time machine. Thanks to modern technology, childhood memories really are just a click away. I’m sure there are some great theories as to why this sort of nostalgia develops in college, but I’d rather talk about movies right now.
For me, the natural progression from Disney Movies is ‘teen’ movies, but I don’t want to talk the ‘quintessential’ Hollywood teen movie, although there are some great ones: Ten Things I Hate About You, Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club, Easy A. Hollywood certainly knows how to make a movie about adolescence.
- make the cast unbelievably attractive
- cast actors in their mid twenties to play teens (eliminating awkward gangly body types and acne)
- make jokes about weight
- make jokes about ethnicity
- have a stupid character
- include one unconventionally attractive person with a ‘personality’ (optional)
- have a clearly defined social order where ‘smart ugly’ people are inferior to ‘beautiful popular’ types
- have a ‘bad boy’
- have a virginal girl who must either sleep with the bad boy or the unconventional attractive person with a ‘personality’… (whose very existence still remains optional leaving only option A… scarlet)
One only has to Google search ‘teen movie’ to see a selection of movies which contain a range of the ‘tropes’ listed above. The point of this blog is to draw your attention to some ‘coming of age’ movies that you may not have heard of. Ones that have a more serious take on the genre.
First up, The Go Getter (2007)
Directed by Martin Hynes, Lou Taylor Pucci plays Mercer, a teenage boy who recently lost his mother. Motivated by his mother’s passing, he uncharacteristically steals a car and begins a journey across America to locate his long lost brother, Arlen. During his journey, Mercer strikes up an odd relationship with the owner of the car through phone calls on her mobile phone, which he found in the car. She becomes Mercer’s confidante and travelling companion through a number of strange encounters on the open roads of America.
The great thing about this movie is that it takes the protagonist out of the institute of school, (where you supposedly ‘grow up’) and places him in some real (and extraordinary) life situations. His somewhat innocent disposition and affability make him easy to relate to, which is essential sometimes for a main character.
Although more ‘serious’ than your average teen movie, The Go-Getter supplies plenty of comedic relief to viewers. During his adventures Mercer listens to a tape of a cowboy book that was left in the car. Later on in the movie he meets an African-American Stetson wearing nomad. The black drifter humorously challenges our preconceived notions of what it is to be a cowboy.
Another great provider of comedy is the stories we hear about Arlen, who seems to have duped every friend he’s ever made in order to get ahead –or indeed, away. Arlen is quite a bold character – quite the opposite of Mercer. Tracing the footsteps of Arlen forces Mercer out of his shell and into situations he would have previously avoided.
Overall, The Go-Getter is a cinematic gem, and well worth a night in with some popcorn and pizza. There is plenty of good music in there too from artists such as Elliot Smith and The Black Keys. Your Ipod won’t complain about some more easy listening.
I Capture the Castle (2003)
Based on the 1948 novel of the same name by Dodie Smith (author of 101 Dalmatians), I Capture the Castle tells the story of 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain (Romola Garai). Cassandra faces many misfortunes after her father, an author, encounters writers block. The eccentric family, who moved into a castle when Cassandra was younger, are in financial ruin. Both girls are of a marriageable age and unfortunately struggling to attract male attention. The story illustrates some of the restrictions on females in the 1930s – namely monetary and marital restrictions. Cassandra wishes to marry for love, but it is clear that this would be a novelty in such an era.
Although bleak at times, the movie isn’t all grim, and romance is proved to be achievable, if not in the conventional ways. Those of you who are Henry Cavill fans (The Tudors, Man of Steel) may be interested to see him in his younger days as an actor. I believe this was his second feature length movie, his first being The Count of Monte Cristo which is one of my favourites. My love for The Count of Monte Cristo is more likely a result of the fact that Richard Harris is the coolest man ever, rather than anything to do with Cavill, but it’s nice to see the origins of Cavill’s career.
Like me, you may be extremely baffled by one thing in particular in I Capture the Castle. Cassandra doesn’t fall madly for the sweet farmhand with Hollywood good looks. The mind truly boggles, especially given how humble and affectionate he is towards her. Give Superman a break woman!
Part two of this blog post will be available on Monday 25th March.
Thank you for reading folks, feel free to comment and share opinions.