Best Coming of Age Movies

The critical success of Richard Linklater’s 2014 film “Boyhood” has brought the concept of the coming of age movie back to the forefront of movie buffs. The instant classic caught the perfect tone of youth to teenage angst in the lead character of Mason Evans Jr. portrayed over a 13 year period by Ellar Coltrane. Although this project had the original idea of filming in yearly intervals, it still brings to mind many great and similar tales that capture the moment when characters have to deal with the one guarantee in life, getting older.

Stephen King’s short story “The Body” was adapted into a big screen classic when Rob Reiner turned the novella into “Stand By Me” in 1986. The events that were set over Labor Day weekend in 1959 brought together an all-star list of young talent including Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Cory Feldman, Jerry O’Connell and Kiefer Sutherland. The coming of age drama perfectly captured that same time in life that touched close to home for many movie fans who had similar memories of their childhood and that moment when they felt as though they lost their innocence.

“Boyz in the Hood” also painted a clear picture of what life was really like in the low income areas of Inglewood California in the mid 1980’s. Jon Singleton’s perfectly crafted story showed that coming of age in such a volatile place and during such a volatile period in history wasn’t always a smooth ride. The characters still displayed the immaturity at times of youths but but were forced to grow up fast in order to adapt and survive.

Not every coming of age tale has to be so heavy on the drama as “Stand by Me” and “Boyz in the Hood.” It’s okay to laugh at the memory of a time when we felt at our most awkward. A perfect movie version is “Sixteen Candles” which was written and directed by coming of age hall of famer John Hughes. Every person who saw this film at one time could see themselves as Molly Ringwald’s lead character Samantha Baker. Dealing with the cliques and peer pressure that comes with being a high school sophomore is something that almost everyone can relate to. It didn’t hurt that the film was gut busting hilarious thanks to the comic input of Anthony Michael Hall as Farmer Ted and Gedde Watanabe’s classic portrayal of foreign exchange student, Long Duk Dong.

We could mention literally dozens of other films that tell the perfect coming of age story, in reality every person finds a different way to relate to a coming of age movie based on their own time, place, and history. However, most everyone can agree that these types of films are unforgettable and are some of the most endearing and watchable films in history.