Underrated Coming of Age Films

Photo by Charlotte Turner

By Charlotte Turner

The coming of age genre is more popular than ever, but sometimes public opinion regarding these films feels a little unvaried. Sure, “Lady Bird,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” and “Heathers” are all great, but I don’t need to write another article singing their praises. Instead, here’s five underrated coming of age films that deserve a little more recognition. 

“Stick It”: Directed by Jessica Bendinger, the writer of “Bring It On,” this film follows rebellious teenager Haley, who’s been forced to return to the world of competitive gymnastics. It’s a little mid-2000s goofy, but with a script full of incredible one-liners, and a strong creative vision, it also rules. Though what really sets it apart are the well-written female friendships, and the general themes of empowerment and sticking it to the man. 

“Dick”: In this lighthearted historical revisionist take on the Watergate scandal, teen girls Betsy and Arlene (played by Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams, respectively) end up becoming dog walkers and secret youth advisors for Richard Nixon. It’s so much fun, with cool 70s style and music, plus you want to cheer seeing Betsy and Arlene overcome what is expected of them as ‘dumb teenage girls’ and eventually change the course of history. 

“We Are the Best!”: In this film, three thirteen-year-old punk girls in 1980s Sweden start a band despite being told at every turn that punk is dead. It’s high-spirited, and full of antics and fun that make it an entertaining watch. At its core, the movie is a wonderful ode to youthful confidence. It reminds the viewer of what it was like to be young and feel like you could do anything because nobody had told you yet that you couldn’t. 

“Deidra and Laney Rob A Train”: A great addition to the women-led heist movie canon, sisters Deidra and Laney start robbing trains to pay the bills when their mother is sent to prison. It’s a little cheesy, but it’s also a fun and heartfelt twist on the classic ‘young person trying to leave their hometown for a better life storyline. 

“Sing Street”: Music is at the heart of this film, about a teenage boy named Conor starting a band to impress a girl in 1980s Ireland. The soundtrack, which is full of era-appropriate hits from bands like Duran Duran and the Cure, is one of the best parts of the film. The movie also features a beautiful relationship between Conor and his older brother, and affirms the lives and ambitions of artists. 

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