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.
Back to the Future (1985)
Buckle into Doc's DeLorean and head to the 1950s by way of 1985 with the seminal time-travel series that made Michael J. Fox a household name. It's always a joy watching Marty McFly's race against the clock way-back-when to ensure history runs its course and he can get back to the present. Netflix also has follow-up Parts II and III, which all add up to a perfect rainy afternoon marathon.
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.
The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
As romanticized as adolescence can be, it’s hard being young. Following the high school experience of troubled, overdramatic Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), The Edge of Seventeen portrays the woes of adolescence with a tender, yet appropriately cheeky tone. As if junior year isn’t hellish enough, the universe essentially bursts into flames when Nadine finds out her best friend is dating her brother; their friendship begins to dissolve, and she finds the only return on young love is embarrassment and pain. That may all sound like a miserable premise for a young-adult movie, except it’s all painfully accurate, making it endearingly hilarious -- and there’s so much to love about Steinfeld’s self-aware performance.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
"Nine times." That's both a quote from this John Hughes classic, and the answer to the question: "What is the minimum number of times everyone should be required to watch this movie?" Even if you're well out of your school years, Ferris' truant exploits will give you the urge to blow of work and follow the film's tagline: Leisure Rules. Just maybe ask before you "borrow" your friend's vintage Ferrari and set out to make your boss' life a living hell when he tries to call you on your unauthorized day off.
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.
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.
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."
Scary Movie (2000)
There are so many teen slasher movies that they're basically their own genre -- so much so that they're a ripe opportunity for a spoof. These, plus several other horror classics, are parodied in Scary Movie to a ridiculous extent. Starring early 2000s regulars like Shawn and Marlon Wayans, Anna Farris, Carmen Electra, and others, the sex-ed up ensemble comedy probably would've been way too crude for audiences today, were it released now, but it's remained a teen cult movie, likely for its very shameless form of hilarity. It's obviously a little better to be able to catch the references, but really, it's just an unhinged, late-night favorite.
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 to make it a cult classic. What’s dreamier than a boy fighting super-powered evil exes from hell for the sake of love?
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.
Ah, sleepovers: Where tea is spilled, junk food is eaten, and flicks are watched. Basically, they encapsulate the joyful side of what being a tween is all about! And no other tween movie than this mid-aughts staple represents that junior high rite of passage more. (It's in the name!) Except, Sleepover brings it to the next level as two groups of rising freshman compete in an epic, night-long scavenger hunt. Everything about it is extremely 2004, including a then not-so-famous Steve Carell as a curmudgeonly mall cop after one group of galavanting girls. It's definitely a very silly PG movie, but come on, it was meant to be watched on Friday nights in!
The Spectacular Now (2013)
This coming of age story focuses on Miles Teller’s lovable but ill-fated Sutter, a teenage boy who lives in the now and sees little importance in looking beyond it, especially at the prospects of his future after graduation. Then, following one night of binge drinking, he wakes up on the lawn of Aimee (Shailene Woodley), an unsuspecting, studious classmate, and everything changes... for the both of them. Despite their differences, and Aimee’s unrelenting desire to dream about the possibilities outside of their deadbeat hometown, there’s something special that burgeons between them. Equal parts about the value and flaws in only focusing on the present, and an ode to dreams of tomorrow, The Spectacular Now is a near perfect young romance and story of personal growth.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
In this shrewd twist on the superhero genre, the audience's familiarity with the origin story of your friendly neighborhood web-slinger -- the character has already starred in three different blockbuster franchises, in addition to countless comics and cartoon TV adaptations -- is used as an asset instead of a liability. The relatively straightforward coming-of-age tale of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a Brooklyn teenager who takes on the powers and responsibilities of Spider-Man following the death of Peter Parker, gets a remix built around an increasingly absurd parallel dimension plotline that introduces a cast of other Spider-Heroes like Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), Peni Parker (Kimiko Glen), and, most ridiculously, Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), a talking pig in a Spider-Suit. The convoluted set-up is mostly an excuse to cram the movie with rapid-fire jokes, comic book allusions, and dream-like imagery that puts the rubbery CGI of most contemporary animated films to shame.
Spring Breakers (2012)
Harmony Korine's (Kids, The Beach Bum) South Florida co-ed partying binge is a bad trip. In the hazy, neon-tinged flick, four best friends rob a fast food joint because they're that desperate to live out their vacation fantasy -- which they do for a moment, until they get arrested for drug possession. That's only the film's first act; the real insanity starts when James Franco's absurd performance as wannabe rapper/drug dealer Alien enters the picture and bails the girls out of jail, enlisting them in his… business ventures. Basking in the false glow of materialism and instant gratification, Spring Breakers is like a dystopian version of MTV Spring Break. Spranggggggg breakkkkkkk, y'all. Spranggg break forever.
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.
Valentine's Day (2010)
Valentine's Day is the kind of movie that shoves as many famous people (including Ashton Kutcher, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Alba, and Taylor Swift) as possible into one cast so you have bountiful opportunities to yell, "I know them!" It's also the cheesy, multi-story kind of rom-com that's full sweet, easy-to-watch vignettes as it follows a number of beautiful people who all happen to know each other as they break up, make up, and fall in love over the course of one Valentine's Day in LA. The movie is as treacly as Valentine's Day marketing schemes, but it's a go-to date movie that hits all of the sappy marks and romantic tropes a PG-13 movie can handle.
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.
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