Movies about Teenagers You Haven't Heard Of (But Should See)

Since Hollywood's inception, the trials and troubles of teenagers have been standard movie fodder (and guaranteed money-makers). But forget about the big movies about youth culture (like Rebel Without a CauseThe Breakfast ClubAmerican Pie, and Juno) and you'll still find plenty of great films that slid under the radar. Check out these movies about teenagers. You've probably never heard of more than one of them, but they all deserve a look.

Where the Day Takes You

A group of teenage runaways try to survive on the streets of Los Angeles and form their own family structure in the process. This gritty and realistic, low-budget film had a cast including Will Smith, Sean Astin, Ricki Lake, Alyssa Milano, and many other faces you'll recognize. (1992; rated R for scenes of drugs, sex, and violence.)

The War

A discontented Vietnam vet becomes a pacifist because of the horrors he saw at war, but must deal with a different sort of war between his young son and his friends and a rival group of children. (1994; rated PG-13.)


Nerdy and diminutive 14-year-old Lucas decides to win the heart of his best friend, Maggie — who has fallen for his other best friend, Cappie —by joining the football team. Look for very young faces on some of today's big stars, including Charlie Sheen, Winona Ryder, Jeremy Piven, and Courtney Thorne-Smith.(1986; rated PG-13.)

Ghost World

Two social outsiders, Enid and Rebecca, graduate from high school and decide to play a terrible joke on a middle-aged, nerdy record collector. (2001; Rated R for language and some sexual content.)

Bend It Like Beckham

The youngest daughter of an Indian family that follows strict cultural tradition rebels by following her own dream of becoming a star soccer player. Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightly, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers star. (2002; rated PG-13.)

Blackboard Jungle

An oldie but goodie about an English teacher at a violent, inner-city school and his resolve to help his students — despite resistance from the students and other faculty. While some aspects of this film are outdated, the theme still resonates today as similar issues still plague big, inner-city schools. (1955; no rating.)

What's Eating Gilbert Grape

Gilbert (Johnny Depp) is torn between his dream of leaving his small hometown and his desire to stay to take care of his brain-damaged brother (Leonardo DiCaprio) and their morbidly obese mother. Leonardo DiCaprio was nominated for his first Oscar for the role. (1993; rated PG-13.)

Swing Kids

A group of kids in Nazi Germany defies the law and listens to banned American music, and soon face tough choices as a result. Look for Christian Bale and Noah Wyle among the cast. (1993; rated PG-13.)

Adventures in Babysitting

After her boyfriend cancels a big date, Chris is settling in for a boring night of babysitting. But one phone call sends Chris (along with her charges) on a quick errand that leads to a comedy of errors involving teenage runaways, carjackers, robbers, and the mafia on the streets of Chicago. (1986; rated PG-13.)

Real Women Have Curves

America Ferrera stars as a first-generation Mexican-American girl who dreams of going to college but also feels compelled to follow her cultural heritage and work with her mother at her sister's sewing factory. (2002; Rated PG-13.)

Coupe DeVille

In 1963, three brothers who never got along — an Air Force sergeant, a troublemaker, and a dreamer — meet for the first time in 5 years to drive a Cadillac convertible from Detroit to Miami as a surprise gift for their mother. (1990; rated PG-13.)