Saturday, 28 May 2011

Encore’s Birthday Marathon: Day 11

For a number of audiences John Hughes has the monopoly on bathetic teenage angst. He has a way of making the decidedly trite machinations of his teenage characters seem profound. (The Mad Hatter did a nice post on The Breakfast Club, my favourite Hughes' film.) I didn’t grow up in the eighties so Hughes films don’t resonate as much with me as teen flicks of my era. The curious thing, though, is that I can’t think of a great number of teen flicks of “era” that do manage to deliver on the pseudo-profundity of Hughes. Even if you eschew the Hughes’ flick of the era, it’s difficult the quick-wittedness of an eighties teen flick like Heathers. It’s a bit like when I was talking about the trajectory of children’s film yesterday. The more recent ones seem below par and if the nineties were the time for children, then the eighties was the time for the youths.
The thing about perspective, though, is that you never know that the period you’re in is flawed until you come out of it. I did enjoy living through the nineties and surviving those terrible teen movies, but I can think of one teen film from the nineties which I liked – and that was in spite of itself, She’s All That. If you squint, you could probably call Cruel Intentions a teen movie, it is swathing with teens, but I still think of it as Dangerous Liaisons in street clothes so of course I like it. (I know Nick’s big on Alicia Silverstone, but I can’t admit to any big love for Clueless).
It gets better in the early part of the aughts. I’m not alone (although, I’m part of a small group) when I say that Bring It On is a great film. It doesn’t reveal any sage knowledge about teen-human relations, but it’s a more than enjoyable romp as is Save the Last Dance (although that one’s much more angsty and serious). Of course my favourite teen movie revealed in my life time is Mean Girls. I’ve spoken to excess about that one. What’s interesting, though, is that as good a film it is – it still lacks that sense of community which Hughes tends to facilitate in his films – The Breakfast Club more than any other.
It’s no indication of my personal inclinations – I’m a bit of a loner myself – but I do love that sense of camaraderie in teen flicks. It’s like that scene in Footloose – I have to admit that there are times when that movie’s downright terrible but that scene at the end where everyone comes together dancing is just brilliant, for me (and I don’t even like dancing). I’d say that even more than films made specifically for children teen flicks depend on that decisive bit of zeitgeist nature in us all. It’s probably why modern teen films are so lazy about what they do. They’ve got an assured audience of sorts, so they don’t have the motivation to do better, which is a shame. (More on the Marathon.)
Any teen favourites?

1 comment:

Ryan T. said...

Any possible answers I could've given to your question were already mentioned by you. So... bravo! If I think of another film you might have missed, I'll let you know.