The Best Teen Movies on Netflix
From classics to recent favorites.
Ah, the teenage years, those glorious days when everyone is an immature, hormone-addled ball of energy trying to figure out how to be a person in the world, and also how to get to that party literally everyone will attend after homecoming. While many movies chronicling this period of human development are fun and lighthearted, even the bounciest offer a darkly comforting reminder: You survived.
Put on your varsity jacket, grab your Trapper Keeper, and stream these essential teen movies on Netflix. Remember, if you can't get enough of these teen dreams, check out the best teen TV shows on Netflix.
All the Bright Places (2020)Based on the international bestselling young adult fiction novel by Jennifer Niven, All the Bright Places tells the story of high school students, Violet (Elle Fanning) and Theodore, who likes to go by his last name, Finch (Justice Smith), both of whom are suffering from mental illness caused by trauma in their pasts. It's a tender love story, growing from two broken people who, together, begin the process of healing. The film is both gentle and heartbreaking, and a rare entry in the excess of teen Netflix originals that truly tries to handle mental health with care.
The Babysitter (2017) & The Babysitter: Killer Queen (2020)One pre-teen boy's (Judah Lewis) fantasy about his babysitter (Samara Weaving) turns into a nightmare when it's revealed she and her hot friends (which includes Bella Thorne as a cheerleader, Upload's Robbie Amell as a buff sociopath, and Vine star-turned-actor King Bach) dabble in human sacrifices. Director McG's self-aware spin on the babysitter slasher is more comedy than horror, delivering a bloody fun time in a stylish and dumb manner. Archetypes get turned on their heads, laugh lines punctuate almost every scene, and reality mostly ceases to exist while our hero tries to learn some sort of lesson. It's goofy mayhem in all the right ways, and finds its voice in the 2020 follow-up. If you hit play, please don't ruin a good thing by taking it too seriously.
Brahman Naman (2016)Truly, nothing can spice up a school quiz tournament like the quest to lose your virginity. This '80s-set Netflix original sends a Bangalore trio of high school horndogs to Calcutta to win on both counts.
Can't Hardly Wait (1998)Part of the joy of watching certain teen comedies years after they came out is seeing now-famous actors in goofy early roles. Sean Penn's Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High is probably the best example of this, but graduation party classic Can't Hardly Wait did a great job of assembling some random young actors who've gone on to do many other things—including, most notably, Lauren Ambrose—and letting them charm you through the expected beats of a graduation party movie. Just let it take you to paradise city.
Carrie Pilby (2016)At first, it's not so easy to like the titular character (played by Diary of a Teenaged Girl's Bel Powley) in this quaint indie. She's only 19 and highly intelligent, having already graduated from Harvard at her age and is privileged enough to already live alone in NYC. She's also quite scared to leave her apartment, though, doesn't know how to socialize with others, and is rather lonely, even if she doesn't know it. Based on a to-do list that her therapist (Nathan Lane) gives her, the movie adapted from Caren Lissner's novel follows her assignment to become as socially intelligent as she is brainy, and in turn, a much happier person. It's a sweet rom-com helmed by To All the Boys I've Loved Before director Susan Johnson with its strength lying in subtly being a more somber coming-of-age film than it makes itself out to be.
The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)People love Paul Rudd! That belief alone probably motivated this paint-by-numbers mid-2000s indie ripoff, which stars Rudd as a retired writer (hah!) searching for his next chapter (get it?). After deciding to become a caregiver (yes, this plot is shaping up nicely), he gets a job from a woman whose teenage son, Trevor, has muscular dystrophy, but also a sarcastic sense of humor. When Rudd and the kid go on a road trip to see famous roadside attractions (it's one of Trevor's adorable character quirks that he's obsessed with roadside attractions), they learn plenty about each other, but—spoiler—just as much about themselves. Selena Gomez shows up as a love interest for good measure, so if you're in the mood for an undemanding, treacly teen road-trip flick, The Fundamentals of Caring is your Rudd-approved best bet.
Good Burger (1997)
Welcome to Netflix, home of Good Burger, which you should watch in short order. Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell spun off a popular sketch from Nickelodeon's All That to make this rowdy comedy about teens who spend the summer working at their friendly neighborhood fast-food stand and the Nick slime-worthy gaffes that result from a foul burger-chain rivalry. With cameos from Shaq and Sinbad, French-fry gags, and a brawl over an insanely tasty secret sauce, you'll be snort-laughing milkshake out your nose in the first 10 minutes.
The Half Of It (2020)"This is not a love story," the heroine, Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis), says at the outset of The Half of It, Alice Wu’s coming-of-age film. It's one of those witty lines that the lead in teen movies tends to say, but this Netflix original is a lot smarter than that opening line—and it's more endearing for it. The film follows Ellie, the only person of Chinese descent in a tiny town called Squahamish who writes her high school classmates' papers for money. One of those offers comes from a boy named Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) who wants her help to write a love letter for a girl named Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire). A conflicted Ellie, who also has a crush on Aster, at first declines but ultimately succumbs to help her family get by with her side hustle. It sounds like the making of a classic rom-com, but The Half of It is truly not a love story as it plays out, which makes it one of Netflix's more mature teen originals.
Lady Bird (2017)The dizzying, frustrating, exhilarating rite of passage that is senior year of high school is the focus of actress Greta Gerwig's first directorial effort, the story of girl named Lady Bird (her given name, in that "it’s given to me, by me") who rebels against everyday Sacramento, California life to obtain whatever it is "freedom" turns out to be. Laurie Metcalf is an understated powerhouse as Lady Bird's mother, a constant source of contention who doggedly pushes her daughter to be successful in the face of the family's dwindling economic resources. It's a tragic note in total complement to Gerwig's hysterical love letter to home, high school, and the history of ourselves.
Moxie (2021)Based on a novel by Jennifer Mathieu, Moxie follows Vivian (Hadley Robinson), a quiet teen, who, upon seeing the gender-based injustices going on at her school, decides to start a zine after learning about her mom's (Amy Poehler, who also directed the film) riot grrrl past. After surreptitiously placing her photocopied creation in the girls' bathroom, she starts a movement aimed at stopping the rampant harassment on campus led by a football star (Patrick Schwarzenegger). Moxie is definitely flawed with its perfunctory nods to intersectionality—that especially can't be ignored considering the underused supporting cast. But, hey, it is an admirable, stirring film with a great Bikini Kill-infused soundtrack—so if it gets a generation of casual Netflix viewers into riot grrrl, that's a net positive.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)Stephen Chbosky's adaptation of his beloved novel will take you back to adolescence in a way many coming-of-age films aim to capture but not all can. The film, about an introverted high school freshman named Charlie (Logan Lerman) discovering where he fits in for the first time when he befriends a group of outsider seniors (Ezra Miller, Emma Watson), while he feels forced to cope with his best friend’s suicide and mental illness in private, will take you back to all of the feelings you felt at 16. Lerman's endearing portrayal, as well as each character’s own delicate experience, the heartwarming dialogue ripped from the text, and that tender soundtrack, are more than enough to have you nostalgic for drives around your hometown and desperate to put on an 8-track and have a good cry. If you let it, it'll make you "feel infinite."
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)Scott Pilgrim vs. the World isn’t your average young adult romantic comedy. There’s a lot of comic-inspired ass kicking and super villianous exes, as well as some not so great original garage band music. While ridiculous, these oddities in a movie about a bass player (Michael Cera) on a quest to win the heart of a special Ramona Flowers by defeating all seven of her evil exes give the genre some much needed action and edginess. From director Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, Shaun of the Dead), the film is uniquely stylized and has the right amount of teenage flair—and a love letter to the city of Toronto—to make it a cult classic. What’s dreamier than a boy fighting super-powered evil exes from hell for the sake of love?
17 Again (2009)No one in their right mind would take up the chance to experience high school for a second time. But what if an inexplicable supernatural occurrence forced you to? That's what happens to Matthew Perry's character Mike in this comedy as he hits a mid-life crisis hard, turning into his 17-year-old self (played by Zac Efron at the height of the teen dream phase of his career) over night. Navigating high school for a new generation is one big conundrum, as is writing the wrongs of your past—so even if this fantasy comedy isn't necessarily anything new, it still makes for a pleasantly surprising, sweet watch.
Sierra Burgess Is a Loser (2018)In this Netflix original movie, titular loser Sierra Burgess (Shannon Purser, AKA Barb from Stranger Things) enlists her high school's most popular girl Veronica (Kristine Froseth) after semi-accidentally falling into catfishing the hot jock Jamey (Noah Centineo, aka Peter Kavinsky from To All the Boys I've Loved Before) who mixed up his phone numbers. The Netflix rom-com is creepy-sweet in the way only awkward high school tales can get away with.
Soul Surfer (2011)
In 2003, 13-year-old rising pro surfer Bethany Hamilton thought she would never be able to surf again after losing her arm in a shark attack. Soul Surfer chronicles the athlete's recovery and determination to eventually be able to get back on the board, featuring AnnaSophia Robb as Hamilton and Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt as her parents. Fans of inspirational stories will find the film particularly compelling based on its biographical story and commitment to providing hope, but its ardent message (no matter how enthusiastically drilled in it may be) that one can overcome whatever obstacle, no matter how great, in pursuit of their passion will strike even the biggest cynic.
Superbad (2007)The comedy that kicked off Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's writing partnership crams more crude sex jokes than anyone ever thought possible into a heartwarming story of inseparable best friends (Michael Cera and Jonah Hill) on the verge of shipping off to different colleges. Factor in some wild party scenes, a then-unknown Emma Stone, high-school horndogs riffing to their hearts' content, and McLovin, and you've got yourself a classic high school movie that rivals the likes of Dazed and Confused.
To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2018)What if your private letters to your crushes weren't private, but wound up in the hands of aforementioned crushes? It's a teen's nightmare! But maybe—just maybe!—this story, which is based on Jenny Han's best-selling YA novel of the same name, will turn out to have a happy ending. With strong performances from young leads Lana Condor and Noah Centineo, To All the Boys I've Loved Before is the rare Netflix original movie with enough heart and sincerity to overcome its flaws.
The Blair Witch Project popularized the found-footage genre, and Unfriended was the first to tap into the even more niche subset of the horror style—social media/computer screen found-footage. The first of its kind, the movie from Blumhouse isn't always a master of its craft and can feel more like being forced into peering at a screen from over someone's shoulder like you're waiting for your sibling's allotted screen time to wrap up, and is sometimes flat-out silly, but since we're addicted to being online, it is hard to look away. It follows a group of teenagers whose chatroom appears to be haunted by their friend who was recently bullied and died by suicide. Even when the scares are cheap, it's an interesting experiment that's worth logging into.
What a Girl Wants (2003)Amanda Bynes was a Nickelodeon star with her very own series by the time she was 13, but this title is what made her a movie star. She brings the charm as a 17-year-old eccentric vagabond from New York who sets off to London to meet her wealthy father, who happens to be a Lord (Colin Firth) and has no idea that she exists. This is no Princess Diaries, though. Bynes' Daphne fumbles through her new life, refusing to compromise who she is, making for a very funny, sweet romp of an aughts tween favorite. What a Girl Wants is exactly what you want out of a teen movie, hitting all of the unrealistic yet extremely satisfying marks.
White Girl (2016)
Inspired by writer/director Elizabeth Woods' own experience, White Girl plays like a high-dose rush of dopamine. The film examines how far the naive will go for passion, seen through the eyes of one college student who spirals out of control and begins dealing cocaine. From excessive partying binges to rooftop hookups, this sexy indie film shocks and awes in the dangerous, youthful habits it explores, all the while taking a critical look at whiteness and privilege. It’s hot, but it’ll burn you, too.