There are few things as integral to our upbringings as movies. As children, we watch movies that teach us the value in making friends, that firemen are heroes, and even how to use the bathroom. We enter our adolescence and watch movies about relationships, dream jobs, and family. While our personal experiences propel our development as people, movies allow us to step into alternate realities and experience foreign worlds that are actually closer to reality than we ever may have thought.
These five films complimented my upbringing in a way that my own experiences never would have.
Garden State (2004)
I am a little bias when it comes to Garden State having grown up in the dirty Jerz myself. The movie was shot no more than thirty-minutes from my hometown. Garden State carries a certain weight that its large cult following understands. Scrubs-star Zach Braff created this film, blending the humor and anxieties of being young into a beautiful coming of age story. Braff stars as Adam Largeman, a struggling actor who returns home to New Jersey in the wake of his mother’s tragic death. Largeman rekindles some important old friendships, as well as a few new ones, that help him to come into his own. Garden State also has one of the best soundtracks of all time; fans of The Shins will be pleased.
Fortunately, I was two when Kids came out, because I’m certain my then thirteen-year-old sister was never let out of the house unsupervised again. Starring a ragtag group of city-kids, Kids is one of the most honest movies ever made about America’s youth. Kids is the movie that made parents remember that smoking, drinking, and fucking was just as big a part of their adolescence as it would be their children. Between skateboarding and girls, the film represents the agenda of the youth despite their lack of direction.
Almost Famous (2000)
Set in the ‘70s, Almost Famous chronicles a very young journalist’s time on the road with fictional rock band Stillwater. Almost Famous is just one of those movies that makes you wish you were born during a different time period. Who wouldn’t want to wear almost completely unbuttoned silk shirts and don a thick mustache that doesn’t ostracize, but popularizes you. William Miller, the fifteen-year-old journalist, is forced to mature quicker than most during his time spent with the older band members and their notorious groupies, only to find that time isn’t worth wishing away. As a journalist, and a mush, Almost Famous will always hold a special place in my heart.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
You knew this one would be on the list didn’t you? Doesn’t it have to be? Perhaps the most classic film about youth, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a cultural staple. The film breeds happiness. Ferris Bueller, played by Matthew Broderick, gallivants around Chicago with two high school friends after spontaneously skipping out on school. I’m guessing the large majority of people reading this list will have already seen the film; this is just a pleasant reminder that it is time to re-watch it. Easily the best film about American youth, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is just one of those movies that can crush cultural borders. Whether you are a youngin’ in Providence, Rhode Island or Cape Town, South Africa, this movie is sure to strike a chord.