I sat down with my wife the other day to watch a film I hadn’t seen since I was in university.
The film was American Graffiti, and my wife had never seen it. I had the advantage of growing up in a household where we watched a lot of movies together. That’s probably how I became so entranced with pop culture, and can identify a shit load of actors.
Once every decade, or perhaps a few times, there are films that encapsulate what it means to come of age in a particular decade. There are many of them, and some that are more teen adventure, (Adventures in Babysitting, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and License to Drive), or satire with dark undertones like Mean Girls.
You could also throw in flicks like The Goonies, Stand By Me or Monster Squad as coming-of-age films for the tweenage years. Admittedly the subgenre was overwrought from 1985 to 1995 thanks to John Hughes, and mimickers but it’s ebbed off … or perhaps I’m just too old to pay attention to this era’s offerings like 17 Again or An Education.
Regardless of the grocery list of films, here are my five picks depicting that awkward transition from teenager to young adult. And if you’ll notice, the soundtrack is essential.
|5.||Movie: Empire Records (1995)
Cast: Liv Tyler, Anthony LaPaglia, Renée Zellweger, Ethan Embry
Quote: “Damn the man. Save the Empire.”
Soundtrack Song: “A Girl Like You” – Edwyn Collins
Why: The soundtrack. A music store. The “damn the man” attitude. Debra’s extreme haircut.
|4.||Movie: Fast Times at Ridgemount High (1982)
Cast: Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Forest Whitaker
Quote: “People on ‘ludes shouldn’t drive.”
Soundtrack Song: “Fast Times at Ridgemount High” – Sammy Hagar
Why: Mr. Hand. Spicoli. A Cameron Crowe script. The fact so many people parody, satirize or imitate the Phoebe Cates scene.
|3.||Movie: American Graffiti (1973)
Cast: Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford, Paul Le Mat
Quote: “Get your bugaloos out baby! The Wolfman is everywhere.”
Soundtrack Song: “The Great Pretender” – The Platters
Why: The Wolfman. The cars. Paradise Road. The hop. Malt shops. A young Suzanne Somers. Richie Cunningham and Shirley Feeney before Fonzie.
|2.||Movie: Almost Famous (2000)
Cast: Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup, Patrick Fugit, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Quote: “Aw, man. You made friends with them. See, friendship is the booze they feed you. They want you to get drunk on feeling like you belong.”
Soundtrack Song: “Something In The Air” – Thunderclap Newman
Why: The soundtrack. Lester Bangs. A Cameron Crowe script. Frances McDormand playing the best mom, ever.
|1.||Movie: Dazed and Confused (1993)
Character: Jason London, Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich
Quote: “Let me tell you this, the older you do get the more rules they’re gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin’ man, L-I-V-I-N.”
Soundtrack Song: “Hurricane” – Bob Dylan and “Sweet Emotion” – Aerosmith
Why: The soundtrack. Wooderson. Jodi Kramer. Slater. “Melba Toast”. “Soul Pole”. Throwing a bowling ball out the window of a 1970 Pontiac GTO.