Teen film
Teen films is a film genre targeted at teenagers and young adults in which the plot is based upon the special interests of teenagers, such as coming of age
Coming of age
Coming of age is a young person's transition from childhood to adulthood. The age at which this transition takes place varies in society, as does the nature of the transition. It can be a simple legal convention or can be part of a ritual, as practiced by many societies...

, first love, rebellion, conflict with parents, teen angst, and alienation. Often these normally serious subject matters are presented in a glossy, stereotyped or trivialized way.

Films in this genre are often set in high school
High school
High school is a term used in parts of the English speaking world to describe institutions which provide all or part of secondary education. The term is often incorporated into the name of such institutions....

s, or contain characters that are of high school age. Sexual themes are also common, as are nudity and crude forms of humor.


As well as the classic teen film, which is similar to a romantic comedy, there are hybrid genres including:
  • Teen sci-fi
  • Teen horror
  • Teen drama
    Teen drama
    A teen drama is a dramatic television series with a major focus on teenage characters. The genre was relatively non-existent for the first 45 years of television; it came into prominence in the early 1990s...

  • Teen comedy
  • Teen musicals

There are many more types of teen films which can then be divided again into sub-categories. This can be found at list of teen films.

Beach films

Early examples of the genre in the United States include the "beach films" of the 1950s and '60s, such as the Gidget
Gidget is a fictional character created by author Frederick Kohner in his 1957 novel, Gidget, the Little Girl with Big Ideas. The novel follows the adventures of a teenage girl and her surfing friends on the beach at Malibu. The name Gidget is a portmanteau of "girl and midget"...

 series and the Beach party film
Beach Party film
Beach party movies were an American 1960s genre of feature films created by American International Pictures with their surprise 1963 hit, Beach Party, and copied by virtually every other studio...


Codes and conventions

Codes and conventions of the teen film genre vary depending on the cultural context of the film, but they can include prom
In the United States and Canada, a prom, short for promenade, is a formal dance, or gathering of high school students. It is typically held near the end of the senior year. It figures greatly in popular culture and is a major event among high school students...

s, alcohol, illegal substances, high school
High school
High school is a term used in parts of the English speaking world to describe institutions which provide all or part of secondary education. The term is often incorporated into the name of such institutions....

, parties and all-night rave
Rave, rave dance, and rave party are parties that originated mostly from acid house parties, which featured fast-paced electronic music and light shows. At these parties people dance and socialize to dance music played by disc jockeys and occasionally live performers...

s, losing one's virginity, relationships, social groups and clique
A clique is an exclusive group of people who share common interests, views, purposes, patterns of behavior, or ethnicity. A clique as a reference group can be either normative or comparative. Membership in a clique is typically exclusive, and qualifications for membership may be social or...

s, and American pop-culture.

The classic codes and conventions of teen film come from American films where one of the most widely used conventions are the stereotype
A stereotype is a popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals. The concepts of "stereotype" and "prejudice" are often confused with many other different meanings...

s and social groups. The wide range stereotypes most commonly used include:
  • The Jock/Cheerleader
  • The Princess
    School diva
    A school diva is a popular culture reference for a well-liked or worshipped female student, whether in elementary school, middle school, or high school, who sees herself as an alpha female...

  • The Geek
    The word geek is a slang term, with different meanings ranging from "a computer expert or enthusiast" to "a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts", with a general pejorative meaning of "a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, esp[ecially] one who is perceived to...

  • The Rebel
  • The Misfit, or The Outcast
  • The Average Girl/Boy (the boy
    Boy next door
    The boy next door is an archetype of storytelling. He is often invoked in Western contexts to indicate wholesome, unassuming, or "average" masculinity. He is a young man with a sweet, shy demeanor who is just discovering his physical and spiritual strengths. The boy next door maintains his innocent...

    /girl next door
    Girl next door
    The cultural and sexual stereotype of the girl next door or the All-American girl is invoked in American contexts to indicate wholesome, unassuming femininity, as opposed to the culture's other female stereotypes such as the tomboy, the valley girl, the femme fatale, girly girl, or the slut. The...

  • The New Girl/Boy
  • The Loner
  • The Band Geek

Apart from the characters there are many other codes and conventions of teen film. These films are often set in or around high schools as this allows for many different social cliques to be shown. This is different in hybrid teen films, but for the classic romantic comedy teen film this is almost always the case.

George Lucas

George Lucas pioneered the genre by writing and directing the 1973 film American Graffiti
American Graffiti
American Graffiti is a 1973 coming of age film co-written/directed by George Lucas starring Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Charles Martin Smith, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips and Harrison Ford...


John Hughes

The genre gained more credibility during the 1980s with the appearance of writer/director John Hughes. His legacy of teen films (The Breakfast Club
The Breakfast Club
The Breakfast Club is a 1985 American teen drama film written and directed by John Hughes. The storyline follows five teenagers as they spend a Saturday in detention together and come to realize that they are all deeper than their respective stereotypes.-Plot:The plot follows five students at...

, Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a 1986 American teen coming-of-age comedy film written and directed by John Hughes.The film follows high school senior Ferris Bueller , who decides to skip school and spend the day in downtown Chicago...

, etc.) proved to be popular not only with audiences, but with critics also.

Éric Rohmer

Éric Rohmer
Éric Rohmer
Éric Rohmer was a French film director, film critic, journalist, novelist, screenwriter and teacher. A figure in the post-war New Wave cinema, he was a former editor of Cahiers du cinéma....

, a pioneering director from the French New Wave
French New Wave
The New Wave was a blanket term coined by critics for a group of French filmmakers of the late 1950s and 1960s, influenced by Italian Neorealism and classical Hollywood cinema. Although never a formally organized movement, the New Wave filmmakers were linked by their self-conscious rejection of...

, was notable for focusing on young adults or youth and their complications with love in a number of his films. Some of such works include La Collectionneuse
La Collectionneuse
La Collectionneuse is a 1967 film by Éric Rohmer. It is the fourth movie in the series of the Six Moral Tales. In 2001 the Guardian critic Philip Norman included it his list of 100 top movies of the 20th century...

, Claire's Knee
Claire's Knee
Claire's Knee is a 1970 film by Éric Rohmer. It is the fifth movie in the series of the Six Moral Tales.-Plot:...

, Pauline at the Beach, My Girlfriend's Boyfriend
L'Ami de mon amie
Boyfriends and Girlfriends is a 1987 comedy film directed by Éric Rohmer. The film stars Emmanuelle Chaulet, Sophie Renoir, Anne-Laure Meury.-Plot:...

, and A Summer's Tale.

Noteworthy actors

Teen films also include actors such as Annette Funicello
Annette Funicello
Annette Joanne Funicello is an American singer and actress. She was Walt Disney's most popular cast member of the original Mickey Mouse Club, and went on to appear in a series of beach party films.-Early life and early stardom:...

, Hayley Mills
Hayley Mills
Hayley Mills is an English actress. The daughter of John Mills and Mary Hayley Bell, and sister of actress Juliet Mills, Mills began her acting career as a child and was hailed as a promising newcomer, winning the BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer for Tiger Bay , the Academy Juvenile Award...

, and Sal Mineo
Sal Mineo
Salvatore "Sal" Mineo, Jr. , was an American film and theatre actor, best known for his performance as John "Plato" Crawford opposite James Dean in the film Rebel Without a Cause...

, in the '60s and '70s, members of the Brat Pack, John Cusack
John Cusack
John Paul Cusack is an American film actor and screenwriter. He has appeared in more than 50 films, including The Journey of Natty Gann, Say Anything..., Grosse Point Blank, The Thin Red Line, Stand by Me, Con Air, Being John Malkovich, High Fidelity, Serendipity, Runaway Jury, The Ice Harvest,...

 in the '80s and early '90s, and Sarah Michelle Gellar
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Sarah Michelle Prinze , known professionally by her birth name of Sarah Michelle Gellar , is an American actress, singer and executive producer...

, Jennifer Love Hewitt
Jennifer Love Hewitt
Jennifer Love Hewitt is an American actress, producer, television director and former singer-songwriter. Hewitt began her acting career as a child by appearing in television commercials and the Disney Channel series Kids Incorporated...

, Seann William Scott
Seann William Scott
Seann William Scott is an American actor and comedian. He is best known for playing Steve Stifler in the American Pie film series...

, Freddie Prinze, Jr.
Freddie Prinze, Jr.
Freddie James Prinze, Jr. is an American actor. He rose to fame during the late 1990s and early 2000s, after starring in several Hollywood films aimed at teenage audiences, I Know What You Did Last Summer and its sequel, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer , as well as She's All That , Summer...

, Jason Biggs
Jason Biggs
Jason Matthew Biggs is an American actor who is best known for his role as Jim Levenstein in the American Pie series of teen comedy films.-Personal life:...

, and other teenage sensations in the late '90s and throughout the '00s, who were either pre-teens or teens at the time of the movies themselves.

See also

  • List of teen films
  • List of film genres
  • Teen drama
    Teen drama
    A teen drama is a dramatic television series with a major focus on teenage characters. The genre was relatively non-existent for the first 45 years of television; it came into prominence in the early 1990s...

     (List of teen dramas)
  • Teen sitcom
    Teen sitcom
    A teen situation comedy, or teen sitcom, is a television programming genre. Like teen dramas, this genre was also generally non-existent during the first 30 years of television...

     (List of Teen sitcoms)
  • Teen pop
    Teen pop
    Teen pop is a subgenre of pop music that is created, marketed and oriented towards teenagers. Teen pop copies genres and styles such as pop, dance, R&B, hip hop, country and rock....

  • Teen magazine
    Teen magazine
    Teen magazines are magazines aimed at female teenage readers. They usually consist of gossip, news, fashion tips and interviews and may include posters, stickers, small samples of cosmetics or other products and inserts. Magazines targeting teenage boys are not often called teen...

     (List of teen magazines)
  • Brat Pack
  • Gross-out film

External links

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