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6 of the Best Films to Watch With Your Tween/Teen Daughter

Ever since G was little we have loved going to the cinema together. In the early days, we took advantage of cheap weekend morning showings, watching films that had been released a few months earlier for bargain prices. Later on, we would wait impatiently for the next release of High School Musical or Hannah Montana! As she has become older she has developed a real love of 80s films (inspired by our fanatic appreciation of the dear departed John Hughes and Bratpack films) and she loves a good old fashioned romance.

There’s something really nice about cuddling up (ok, so maybe not so much of the cuddling now she is getting to that distant tween/teen stage!) and watching a good old girly film together when we can. As the daughter gets older and more independent we won’t exactly lose that bond, but I anticipate that it will become looser for a while as she develops her own life, friends and issues. It’s nice to touch base from time to time even if it’s just with a cheesy film and some popcorn (sweet for her and sweet/salty for me).

I’ve chosen some of my favourites that we have watched in the past year. Some of them have some ‘interesting’ language, but G is very mature for her age so she has been ok with that (God knows she probably hears worse on a typical school day!)

1. The Notebook (2004)

I do have a funny story to share about The Notebook. I first sat down to watch it years ago when G was small. Husband was at a midweek football game so I was looking forward to a girly chill out. There was a knock at the door. I went to answer it and it was a very nice ‘Chugger’ who was collecting for the RSPCA. I normally send these people on their way, but we got chatting and I ended up inviting her in and we watched the whole film together! And yes, I did sign up for a short-lived direct debit to help poorly animals!

The Notebook is pure slush and romance. It charts the romance between two young people, Noah and Allie back in the 1940s. Typically, they are from different sides of the tracks and so their relationship is fraught with difficulties, not least the opposition of Allie’s family to Noah. There is a real chemistry between the two main characters and their love is fierce and passionate. Throughout the film you are kept guessing about whether they will end up together or not.

The film switches back and forth between the present day and the past. The present day story provides the narration for the film as it focuses on an older man relating the love story of Noah and Allie to an older woman. I cried the first time I watched it (always the sign of a good film!) and have since cried watching it with G. It’s such a beautiful love story and reminds me of the old fashioned romantic films of the 1940s and 50s. It also helps that Ryan Gosling plays Noah and even with a beard he is gorgeous.

The perfect film for:

A complete sob-fest and romantic indulge-fest

Lifelong love

Triumph over adversity.

 

2. Pretty in Pink (1986)

During the 1980s I was a huge John Hughes and Molly Ringwald fan. I so desperately wanted to be her and even more so after seeing her play the role of Andie in this film. It also has a brilliant soundtrack featuring classic 80s songs by The Smiths, OMD and Echo and the Bunnymen.

Pretty in Pink tells the tale of Andie, a girl from the wrong side of the town who sets her sights on Blane, a rich boy who moves in elite circles at high school. Andie’s best friend is Ducky and he is just as quirky as she is and more than a little in love with her. I loved this film because as a teen myself I could relate to it. Common with many films of that era it charts the whole struggle to fit in or stand out, with an added dimension of love across social classes. Andie is a really strong female role model who isn’t afraid of standing up for what she believes in. That was so refreshing to watch instead of girls who were desperate to be liked and seen to be popular. The film is both romantic and funny with bittersweet moments, so it is perfect teen angst fodder!

The perfect film for:

Embracing individuality

Friendships versus relationships

Standing up for what you believe in.

 

3. While You Were Sleeping (1995)

This film was made to capitalise on Sandra Bullock’s rising stardom following the success of Speed. It follows the life of Lucy, a token collector on the Chicago Train Network who saves the life of a man she has a crush on. Unfortunately, due to a mix-up it is wrongly assumed that she is his fiancee. Whilst he is in a coma, she has to spend Christmas with his family who are warm and welcoming and everything that lonely Lucy is looking for.

I love a good rom-com about mixed up circumstances, probably because they are the kind of scrapes I could imagine myself getting in to. Sandra Bullock is very watchable and there are also some golden greats amongst the family (Peter Boyle, Jack Warden and Glynis Johns).

This film is proper old fashioned romance, but not quite how you’d expect and each cast member contributes in making the comedy seem easy and natural. The fact that it is set at Christmas makes it all the more warm and fuzzy!

The perfect film for:

Snuggling up on cosy winter evenings

An alternative Christmas film if you are sick of Elf and The Polar Express

The importance of family.

 

4. Dirty Dancing (1987)

When this came out I was in my last year of high school and many of my school friends were raving about this film. There were some girls in my school year who saw the film more than 10 times (going to the cinema was a lot cheaper back then!) I didn’t really get the hype and it has only been in recent years that I have come to love this film.

For those that haven’t watched it (where have you been?) it is the story of a teen called Baby who goes away with her family during the summer holidays of the late 1950s. They go to the same family resort they have always been too, but this year Baby meets Johnny, a young dance teacher who teaches her about dancing and about love. The soundtrack is brilliant and the dancing, although it has an 80s choreography feel, is stunning. There are parts of this film which deal with more adult issues so it might not be suitable for everyone. It is however, a really good coming of age film that has all the right elements of romance, intrigue and fun. Of course, having the late Patrick Swayze as one of the leads is a total bonus, although I’m not convinced my daughter shares this view!

The perfect film for:

Dancing

First love

Father and daughter dynamic.

 

5. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (2005)

When we decided to watch this, I wasn’t really sure I was going to like it. It turned out to be one of those films that was far better than anticipated.

SOTTP tells the story of four close school friends who are set to be apart during the summer holidays for the first time. Prior to going their separate ways they go shopping and buy a pair of jeans which magically fits and flatters all of their figures. They decide to share the jeans between them (hence the travelling pants of the title) which provides a useful link intertwining between their separate summer adventures. Each girl goes through different experiences during their time away including love affairs, making new friends, problems with step families and even a long-held family feud.

We liked this film because it was cute, funny and sad. It manages to incorporate a lot of typical teen problems without being contrived and stale. The four teen girls are well cast and include America Ferrera pre-Ugly Betty and Blake Lively pre-Gossip Girl. We would both love to find a pair of these magical jeans though, so if anyone can track some down?!

The perfect film for:

The strength of teen friendships through good and bad times

Young love and its problems

Family dynamics

 

6. The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

This film is a fairly recent release, in fact, we only saw it a few weeks ago. It is probably a little darker than the other films I have mentioned, but we liked it immensely.

The film deals with Nadine, a somewhat tormented 16 year-old who is troubled, by life in general and a rift between her best friend and herself. The best friend has started a relationship with Nadine’s ‘golden boy’ big brother. The only person she can confide in is her dry-witted (but with a heart of gold) history teacher, brilliantly played by Woody Harrelson.

This is a really clever film and probably the one that my tween/teen identified with the most. It isn’t saccharine and sweet and tackles the problems of being a teen head-on. The film deals with so many issues, but there is a real comedy aspect to some of the scenes, so it doesn’t become too dark and gritty. It also gives an interesting perspective on family dynamics and the strained relationship between the mum and daughter is classic.

The perfect film for:

Being truthful about issues that teens may face

A realistic portrayal of teen relationships with family

The idea that the boy you like might not be right for you!

 

Well, that’s the round-up of films that me and the tween/teen have enjoyed recently. They are a mixed bag and some of them do deal with some fairly adult (or should that be teen) themes. Why not book a Sunday afternoon, grab some popcorn and have some tweeny/teeny girl bonding time?

 

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