Top 9 All-Time Classic Movies for Tweens and Teens

Breakfast at Tiffany's movie poster

Breakfast At Tiffany’s, 1961 (G)
Based on Truman Capote’s short story of the same title, Audrey Hepburn stars as Holly Golightly, a woman who strives to become a Manhattan socialite. With a fairly simple but emotion-filled plot, lots of good comic moments, great acting, and beautiful filming, it’s a lovely introduction to classic films. If you’ve read the short story, you’ll notice the plot was changed for Hollywood, cleaning up references to prostitution, marijuana use,and homosexuality, although a lot of drinking and smoking remain.

If you like this, watch these other classic movies: Sabrina (the original or the remake), Vertigo, Funny Face, An American in Paris, and Singin’in the Rain.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off movie poster

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986 (PG-13)
In this film, high schooler Ferris Bueller is determined to make his day off the most epic cut day ever. If you don’t want your kids to get ideas about ditching, this one isn’t for you. But if you’re down with teens enjoying a fun-filled ride through the most perfectly planned and timed ditch day, complete with close calls, cleverly rigged diversions, and Matthew Broderick singing on a parade float, put this at the top of your list.

If you like this, watch: The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and basically any John Hughes film.

The Princess Bride movie poster

The Princess Bride, 1987 (PG)
Despite the name, this movie is not your typical princess story. This dramatization of The Princess Bride by William Goldman is comedic, romantic and fanciful. A lighthearted tale, this adventure through a fairytale land is fun for the whole family to watch together. With swordplay, revenge, and a real life giant, it may seem “inconceivable,” but this film really does offer something for everyone.

If you like this, watch: The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Neverending Story, and Inkheart.

Back to the Future Part II movie poster

Back to the Future Part II, 1989 (PG)
Chances are you and your kids have already seen Back to the Future, but if you haven’t, see #1 first! Many people say the sequel is better than the original. In this romp through time, the future from 1986 is now… or at least 2015 when Marty McFly and Doc Brown accidentally ended up in a world of hoverboards, 3D movies, and crazy hairstyles. As you watch the scenes from the “future” world, you’ll be amazed at how much of it rings true today. This classic film features only mild violence to give it its PG rating, so you won’t have to suffer through watching any uncomfortable sex scenes with your teen if you watch it together.

If you like this, watch: Indiana Jones, any of the Star Wars movies, Ender’s Game, The Lightning Thief, andThe Lost Boys.

Mean Girls movie poster

Mean Girls, 2004 (PG-13)
This film is loosely based on Rosalind Wiseman’s masterpiece on teen social interaction, Queen Bees and Wannabes. The screenplay was written by comedian and actress Tina Fey, and stars Lindsay Lohan as Cady; Fey also has a significant role as Cady’s math teacher. The movie depicts the eternal struggle between high school cliques. In case you haven’t seen it, the story focuses on homeschooler Cady Heron as she enters public school for the first time. She quickly befriends two social outcasts who have her infiltrate the most popular girls in school. The film is rated PG-13 for comical violence, mild language, and bullying. Watch it with your kids to start a conversation about bullying, popularity, leading, following, homosexuality, and more.

If you liked this, watch: Easy A (mature content), and Never Been Kissed.

Ella Enchanted, 2004 (PG)

Ella Enchanted, 2004 (PG)
Not just another fairytale movie based on yet another book (Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted), this one features magic, silliness, slapstick comedy, and clever dialogue. The plot follows Ella (Anne Hathaway), who was given a “gift” at birth to always be obedient — a gift which proves to be more of a curse. Ella reaches a breaking point, and sets out to reverse the spell.

If you like this, watch: The Princess Diaries, The Prince and Me, Edward Scissorhands, and Penelope.

The Truman Show movie poster

The Truman Show, 1998 (PG)
This three-time Golden Globe winner explores the concept of a true utopia. Jim Carrey has the titular role of Truman, a child who has lived his whole life as an international reality TV star, but he is unaware that he is being filmed. Except for Truman, everyone in the small town of Seahaven is an actor. The show poses ethical questions that make us reconsider the media, paparazzi, and reality TV while taking the form of a light-hearted comedy. The movie is rated PG for mild language.

If you like this, watch: Defending Your Life, Big Fish, Groundhog Day, and The Family Man.

The Help, 2011 (PG-13)

The Help, 2011 (PG-13)
Based on a book of the same name, this movie is a poignant look at the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. A good, entertaining story with well-rounded characters, this is a wonderful way to bring history alive for your tweens and teens. The film is rated PG-13 for some violence, the subject of miscarriage, a mature theme, smoking, drinking, and mild language.

If you like this, watch: Hidden Figures, The Hunger Games, The Imitation Game, The Secret Life of Bees, and Catch Me If You Can.

Clueless movie poster

Clueless, 1995 (PG-13)
This cult classic is a 90’s time capsule. Loosely based on Jane Austen’s Emma, but updated to reflect 1990s values and issues, the classic plot remains the same, making it a fun way to expose your teen to classic literature. The movie is rated PG-13, mainly for its sexual references and teen use of alcohol and drugs.

If you like this, watch: the TV show Clueless, Austenland, Emma (featuring GwynnethPaltrow), Legally Blonde, 10 Things I Hate About You (based on The Taming of the Shrew).

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