Monday, March 16, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Teen Movies

I've been thinking about teen movies for a while now after watching Sex Drive twice (once on my own, then with Em). The funny thing about them is that they're written by people who haven't been teenagers or in high school for a while (at least four years, probably more). What this means is that you've got about a 5-10 year lag in movies about high school actually representing high school, even more considering kids in high school are probably watching movies about college and younger kids are watching the teen movies. That's how I remember it being when I was younger. Probably because we want to get at least some kind of glimpse of the unknown, however fictionalized it might be.

Sure there are attempts to make things current, like tossing in a hip band like Save Ferris in 10 Things I Hate About You or Fall Out Boy in Sex Drive, using current technology (texting and whatever kids do these days) and of course getting young actors.

The most obvious example of this gap in creators vs. the represented audience is Superbad which was written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg when they were in high school (just to see if they could do it, according to an interview I heard on the Creative Screenwriting Magazine podcast) and, for the most part, it wasn't really updated. Sure they've got cell phones, but they're also talking about Aladdin and Saved By The Bell, a show that was on from 1989-1993, which, by my count would have made them 4-years-old when the show ended (assuming they are 18 and the movie takes place in the year it came out, 2007. I guess it's possible they watched it in syndication, but come on. I'm not dumping on Superbad, by the way, I love that movie, mostly because I feel like it more accurately represents me in high school (well, not really, I was not cool at all and never went to a party like that or drank). Seth Rogen's my age, so that makes sense. And they obviously weren't too concerned about going after the high school audience because it's an R-rated high school comedy.

I remember when I was a kid there were a ton of teen-centric movies like the above-mentioned 10 Things: You Drive Me Crazy, She's All That and WAY more that aren't coming to mind. It feels like I watched these before really getting into high school and got sick of their repetitiveness pretty early on. It also seemed like these were mostly coming from studios trying to go after the teen audience with mountains of disposable income instead of a more creative places (like Superbad or Sex Drive). That being said, I'm still a big fan of Can't Hardly Wait because it feels more like a project from someone's heart than a studio's wallet.

Another reason I didn't watch too many more teen movies back in my high school days is because my high school was pretty different being an all guys Catholic one. I had a tight knit group of friends, but we didn't have wild parties or anything, just kind of hung out. I can think of only a handful of events that I could string together for a flick. So it never really seemed like my actual experiences were represented in the movies.

Now, assuming my dreams of becoming Toledo's next big screenwriter (currently I count the creators of That 70s Show and Supernatural, Bonnie Turner and Eric Kripke respectively, as hometown heroes. Want to help a T-town brother out?) and I want to write a script about my high school experiences, it'll be almost a decade after I was actually in high school. See, math is crazy.

As I mentioned above, once I was actually in high school I think I was sick of movies set in high school, so now I'm going back and watching some of them like The Faculty as well as checking out new ones like Sex Drive. The great thing is that the comedic guys who I'm really liking right now are all either my age or a little older and even though they're making movies about kids in high school, I can still relate because the experiences they're pulled from are closer to the ones I had. It's awesome seeing comedy dominated by people my age, instead of looking up to older guys (awesome as they may be). Maybe it's time to start writing that screenplay...


  1. Hey Paul, hope you like the site, more updates to come.

  2. "Can't Hardly Wait" is great, and really got a lot of things about late '90s suburban life without feeling like it was written by old people. You know who else loves that movie? Joe Yanarella.

    Also: if you've never seen the "Josie & The Pussycats" movie by the same writing/directing duo, check that out.

  3. Oh man, how crazy is it that Can't Hardly Wait already has a 10 year anniversary DVD? Still gotta check that out along with Josie and the Pussycats which keeps getting bumped from the top of my Netflix queue for horror movies and Mad Men discs.