As a geeky only child, my Sunday morning tradition from my early teens was to go to the local video shop (yep that’s right, video) and rent a handful of films to watch that day and throughout the week. As a consequence, I watched a lot of films in the late 90s, especially terrible/amazing teen films.
Anyway, flash-forward twenty years, my friends and I have been revisiting these 90s gems on our regular movie nights and they surprisingly hold up to the test of time, well mostly!
Here are a selection of my personal favourites…
“Sporadically. It means once in a while. Try to use it in a sentence.”
As if this wouldn’t be on here (see what I did there). Clueless was the first big teen film that me and my friends were aware of. A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma, Clueless was a big deal and had a massive impact on those in their early teens at the time. Great cast, brilliant soundtrack, amazing outfits (including the ingenious outfit selector – seriously why don’t we have this yet?), a fantastic script and Paul Rudd… what’s not to love?
Seriously, is there anything more adorable than Paul Rudd in this film? No. Even Paul Rudd agrees.
Check out Vanity Fair’s article on the 20th anniversary of Clueless for some great behind the scenes pics and more.
I watched Clueless on the morning of my wedding and I don’t regret a thing.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
“I hate your big dumb combat boots, and the way you read my mind…”
Another 90s teen film, another fantastic soundtrack and another modern retelling of a classic. This time, it’s Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. You can’t argue against it being a winning formula.
First things first, Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger are perfect in this film. I love their characters and the chemistry. Secondly, this film had an amazing supporting cast including lil’ Joseph Gordon Levitt (back when 3rd Rock from the Sun was still a thing) and the incomparable Alison Janney.
Lastly, this film has one of the most perfect settings. Who doesn’t want to live in their massive house and go to that high school? No one that’s who.
Pleasantville was the second film I owned on DVD (the first was the Blair Witch Project – hey we all make mistakes!) and I still adore it. The concept, the costumes, the use of colour, the performances – all fantastic.
Empire Records (1995)
“IT’S REX MANNING DAY!”
A day in the life of the employees of a record store. Empire Records was divisive with audiences but with a superb cast (Renee Zellweger and Liv Tyler amongst others), great soundtrack and some brilliant moments, it became one of my favourites.
Romeo and Juliet (1996)
“Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona, where we lay our scene.”
Oh Leo. So many memories of being 13 and every teen magazine having a poster of Leo in it.
On a recent watch of this film, quite a few of us agreed that Juliet should have just married Paul Rudd. He’s successful, friendly and has nice teeth.
“My mum and dad are going to be so mad at me”
I almost certainly saw Scream younger than I should have done and that almost certainly fostered the obsession my friends and I had with this film. We could quote it line by line and wrote our own plays and stories inspired by this and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Ah the folly of youth, eh?
She’s All That (1999)
“What is this, some sort of dork outreach program?”
For about two months She’s All That was my absolute favourite film, possibly due to VHS copies of it being rather scarce in my neck of the woods. It must have been the combination of geeky girl + Freddie Prinze Jr with bonus Matthew Lillard. Now I am a little older and wiser I have to dropped it down the list a little!
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
“We should have a plan. Angela Lansbury always had a plan.”
I Know What You Did Last Summer had the ultimate 90s teen film cast – Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillipe and Freddie Prinze Jr. Classic.
Other great 90’s teen films
For those interested in teen films, it might be worth checking out the documentary Beyond Clueless available on Netflix. Narrated by Fairuza Balk (of The Craft fame), Beyond Clueless looks at themes in 90s teen movies through various clips. The documentary receives drastically divisive reviews but I’d say check it out if you’re interested in teen movies – it’s worth it for the clips and music by Summer Camp alone.
What are your favourite teen movies? Who were your favourite heartthrobs? Mine were Paul Rudd and Seth Green. I have no regrets.