Teen Movies Parents Can Enjoy Too: A Cross-Generational Film Guide

Krystal DeVille

Ferris Bueller's Day Off Group Shot (1986).

Teen movies have been a staple in Hollywood for decades, with coming-of-age stories, high school dramas, and romantic comedies dominating the genre. While these films are primarily targeted toward a younger audience, many parents can also appreciate the themes, humor, and nostalgia that these movies offer.

In this article, we will explore timeless teen movies that bring generations together, fostering a connection between parents and kids while also embracing modern coming-of-age stories.

Understanding the Appeal of Teen Movies

Understanding the appeal of teen movies is key to appreciating them.

These films often tackle universal themes that transcend age, such as first love, friendship, and self-discovery. They can also be nostalgic for parents who grew up watching classic teen movies of the ’80s and ’90s or who have fond memories of their own teenage years.

Additionally, teen movies can be a way for parents to connect with their kids and understand their perspectives on growing up.

Here are a few reasons why teen movies are a hit with audiences of all ages:


For many adults, watching teen movies is a way to relive their own teenage years. These films often capture the essence of high school life, from the cliques to the crushes, and watching them can bring back memories of their own experiences.


Teen movies offer a chance to escape from the stresses of everyday life. They often feature cool protagonists who are living their best lives, and watching them can be a fun way to forget about your own problems for a little while.

Social Media

In today’s world, social media plays a big role in the lives of teenagers. Teen movies often reflect this, with characters using social media to connect with friends and navigate the ups and downs of high school life.


This kind of teen movie often focuses on characters who are trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in the world. Therefore, this is something that everyone can relate to, regardless of age.

High School

High school is a unique time in a person’s life, and teen movies capture this in a way that few other films can. From the drama of prom to the angst of first love, these films offer a glimpse into the world of high school that is both entertaining and relatable.

Teen Films

And who would not love teen films? With its unique style and tone, it makes them stand out from other genres. They often feature catchy soundtracks, bright colors, and over-the-top storylines that are just plain fun to watch.

While ‘Teen Movies That Parents Can Enjoy Too’ caters to a broad audience, ensuring that both parents and teenagers find common cinematic ground, younger family members aren’t left out of the mix. If you’re seeking movies specifically tailored for those transitional years, don’t miss our curated list in Prime Picks: Must-Watch Movies for Tweens and Young Teens.

Classic Teen Movies of the ’80s and ’90s

Now, let’s dive into some of the iconic and timeless teen movies of the ’80s and ’90s!

The ’80s Classics

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986).
Image Credit: IMDb

Sixteen Candles (1984): This film captures the essence of teenage angst and the drama of high school life. It centers around Samantha, a girl whose family forgets her 16th birthday amidst the chaos of her sister’s wedding.

The Breakfast Club (1985): Directed by John Hughes, this movie follows five high school students from different cliques who spend a Saturday together in detention. It focuses on identity, stereotypes, and social pressure that has become a cultural touchstone for many.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986): Another John Hughes classic, this movie follows a charismatic high school student who decides to skip school and have an adventure in Chicago with his girlfriend and best friend. It’s a funny film with a heartwarming, memorable soundtrack.

Pretty in Pink (1986): Directed by Howard Deutch, this movie is a classic tale of teen romance. It follows a working-class girl who falls in love with a wealthy boy from the other side of the tracks. Overall, it explores themes of class, identity, and self-discovery.

Heathers (1988): This dark comedy follows a group of popular girls, all named Heather, and their misfit friend Veronica. It satirizes the high school social hierarchy and explores themes of power, manipulation, and violence. Moreover, this film has become a cult classic film and has influenced many other teen movies and TV shows.

Say Anything (1989): Directed by Cameron Crowe, “Say Anything” follows a high school valedictorian who falls in love with a quirky and artistic girl. It explores themes of first love, family, and identity, and has become a beloved classic.

The ’90s Gems

Clueless (1995).
Image Credit: IMDb

Dazed and Confused (1993): “Dazed and Confused” follows a group of Texas high school students during their last day of school in 1976. With its memorable characters and iconic soundtrack, it perfectly captures the spirit of the ’70s.

Clueless (1995): This modern retelling of Jane Austen’s “Emma” follows a popular and fashionable high school student played by Cher who decides to play matchmaker for her friends. What audiences love about this film is the humor and style that has become a cultural touchstone for many.

Empire Records (1995): Set in a record store, this film follows a group of young employees over a day as they grapple with personal issues, an impending corporate takeover, and the challenges of growing up.

Can’t Hardly Wait (1998): This funny movie is all about a high school graduation party where you’ll want to see what the teenagers are thinking and feeling as they get ready for their next life adventures.

Cruel Intentions (1999): A modern adaptation of the classic novel “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” this film delves into the manipulative world of New York’s elite teenagers. It’s a tale of love, betrayal, and revenge.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999): Lastly, 10 Things I Hate About You is about a high school student named Kat who is known for her sharp tongue and independent spirit. The movie explores themes of love, identity, and self-discovery and has become a beloved classic.

These iconic ’80s and ’90s films were the golden age of teen movies; many of these classics are still relevant and enjoyable today. They captured adolescence’s angst, drama, and humor, making them relatable to teens and adults.

The New Wave: Modern Teen Movies

Over the past few years, a new wave of modern teen movies has gained popularity among teenagers and young adults. These movies are not only entertaining but also relatable and thought-provoking.

So, get ready for a fun movie night with the whole family! Check out these awesome modern teen flicks that even parents will adore!

Lady Bird

“Lady Bird” is a coming-of-age comedy-drama film directed by Greta Gerwig.

We have characters such as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, played by Saoirse Ronan, who is trying to figure out her place in the world. The film explores themes of identity, family, and relationships in a heartwarming and relatable way.

Eighth Grade

We also have “Eight Grade” where Bo Burnham is the genius behind it. It follows Kayla, played by Elsie Fisher, as she braves the wild ride that is middle school. Think self-esteem issues, social anxiety, and all the drama that comes with growing up in the digital age.


Directed by Olivia Wilde, “Booksmart” is all about two high school seniors, Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, who decide to go all out and make up for four years of high school in one crazy night.

What can we learn from this film? This one’s about friendship, identity, and the pressure to shine in your high school years.


Dope is about a high school senior who’s seriously into ’90s hip-hop.

When he and his buddies stumble into some drugs, it’s a wild journey through the world of drug dealers and gangsters. This flick gets into some deep stuff like identity, race, and chasing your dreams.


Played by Elliot Page, Juno is a high school teen who becomes pregnant after a one-night stand. She decides to give the baby up for adoption and navigates the challenges of teenage pregnancy. Audiences will fall in love with this film since it explores themes of family, relationships, and the complexities of growing up.

After enjoying this article, check out our curated list of Cinematic Wisdom: Films That Offer Profound Life Lessons, where cinema enlightens and inspires all ages.

Teen Movies Parents Can Enjoy Too

Here’s another one for your list!

Adventure and Action Movies

Looking for adventure and action movies to escape reality?

Teen movies like “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” offer thrilling adventures that parents can enjoy too. These movies are packed with action, suspense, and drama, making them perfect for a family movie night.

Comedy Movies

How about comedy movies to lighten the mood and have a good laugh?

Check out “Superbad” and “Mean Girls” that is sure to crunch you with hilarious moments! As a matter of fact, these films are perfect for social distancing movie nights, where families can bond over funny moments and witty one-liners.

Straight-Up Teen Movies

If you’re in the mood for films about struggles and their triumphs, straight-up teen movies like “The Fault in Our Stars” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” are just for you!

As you can see, these movies are not only entertaining but also thought-provoking, making them perfect for parents who want to relive their teenage years or gain a better understanding of their children’s lives.

Netflix Originals

So, who else loves the characters from “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” and “The Kissing Booth”?

Providing heartwarming narratives and relatable characters, these Netflix Originals are ideal for a snug evening at home, creating opportunities for families to savor meaningful moments together.

Teen movies are often associated with cheesy love stories, over-the-top drama, and cringe-worthy moments. These movies offer a glimpse into the world of teenagers and provide entertainment for adults.

Iconic Characters in Teen Movies

Mean Girls (2004).
Image Credit: IMDb

Teen movies are not just for teenagers anymore. Many of these films have become cultural touchstones, with iconic characters that have become part of our collective consciousness.

Several popular artists, including Lindsay Lohan, Emma Stone, and Daniel Radcliffe, have achieved widespread recognition and fame for the characters they portray. These characters are famous in our culture, and their stories connect with both young and old people.

Let’s have a look at the table below and recognize some timeless actors.

Actor/ActressCharacterMovieSignificant Role
Lindsay LohanCady HeronMean GirlsLohan’s Cady transitions almost all her life, from outsider to popular girl and then to outcast, teaching about the dangers of fitting in.
Alicia SilverstoneCher HorowitzCluelessSilverstone’s Cher, fashion-obsessed but well-intentioned, matures from cluelessness to a deeper understanding of the world.
Rachel McAdamsRegina GeorgeMean GirlsRegina is the iconic mean girl, symbolizing the extreme of high school bullying.
Tina FeyMs. NorburyMean GirlsMs. Norbury, a math teacher, offers humor and wisdom as she helps guide students through the intricacies of high school.
Steve BuscemiSeymourGhost WorldBuscemi’s Seymour is a lonely comic book enthusiast. His interactions with Enid capture both the heartwarming and awkward nature of their bond.
Renée ZellwegerBridget JonesBridget Jones’s DiaryZellweger’s Bridget is a 30-something navigating the struggles of love, career, and self-image in a way that’s both touching and comedic.
Matthew BroderickFerris BuellerFerris Bueller’s Day OffBroderick’s Ferris is both cunning and endearing, showcasing how far charm and strategy can take someone in manipulating their surroundings.
Emma StoneGwen StacyThe Amazing Spider-ManEmma Stone’s Gwen Stacy character is known for her intelligence, courage, and chemistry with Spider-Man.
Daniel RadcliffeHarry PotterHarry Potter moviesHe is a young wizard who discovers his magical abilities and embarks on a journey to defeat the dark wizard Voldemort. Harry is known for his bravery, loyalty, and determination throughout the series.

Family-Friendly Teen Movies

Family friendly movies often emphasize perseverance, respect, and mentorship.

Looking for family-friendly teen movies? We got you!

PG Movies

PG-rated movies are a great option for families with tweens or younger children. These movies are generally appropriate for all ages, and they often have themes that resonate with both parents and kids.

The Parent Trap: “The Parent Trap” is a classic movie about two identical twins who were separated at birth and reunited at summer camp. The movie is heartwarming and funny, and it’s a great choice for families with younger children.

The Princess Bride: Romance, adventure, and plenty of humor, that’s what “The Princess Bride” is in store for you. It’s a great choice for families with older children who are looking for a movie that’s both entertaining and thought-provoking.

Raiders of the Lost Ark: When looking for love action and adventure, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is a great choice. It’s appropriate for all ages, and it’s sure to keep everyone on the edge of their seats.

Movies for Tweens

Tweens are at an age where they’re starting to develop their own tastes in movies and TV shows.

Shall we take a peek? Yes!

Back to the Future: Who loves sci-fi and adventure? “Back to the Future” serves as an excellent pick for families guaranteeing an engaging experience for all.

Kung Fu Panda: “Kung Fu Panda” is a great choice for families who love action and humor. Suitable for tweens and younger children alike, it promises to be a resounding hit with every member of the family.

Ice Age: If your family shares a passion for animals and thrilling adventures, “Ice Age” is a must-watch! Suited for tweens and younger children, it’s bound to capture the hearts of all family members.

Movies for the Whole Family

Below are some absolute recommendations for kids, older siblings, parents, and even grandparents – a multi-generational delight!

Hook: This film is a delightful blend of adventure, comedy, and fantasy, making it a perfect family movie. With its themes of rediscovering one’s youth and the importance of family, it resonates with both kids and adults.

Annie: “Annie” tells the story of a fiery young orphan girl living in a miserable orphanage run by the tyrannical Miss Hannigan. Her luck changes when she’s chosen to spend a short time at the residence of the wealthy munitions industrialist Oliver Warbucks.

The Karate Kid: “The Karate Kid,” directed by John G. Avildsen, is an uplifting tale of triumph over bullies and self-discovery. Teenager Daniel LaRusso faces bullying from his new school’s karate team until he finds a mentor in Mr. Miyagi, who imparts valuable life lessons alongside karate skills.

KinVibes Pro-tip: When looking for family-friendly teen movies to watch, it’s important to consult resources like Common Sense Media to ensure that the movie is appropriate for the whole family. With so many great options out there, there’s sure to be a movie that everyone in the family will enjoy.

Teen Dramas and Coming of Age Stories

Teen dramas and coming of age stories have always been a favorite genre for teenagers. However, some of these shows can also be enjoyed by adults. What sets these shows apart are their intricate narratives, thought-provoking themes, and authentic characters. They don’t merely cater to a youthful audience; instead, offer a sophisticated look at the challenges of growing up.

Teen drama films and coming of age stories can be a great way for parents to connect with their teenagers.

Cruel Intentions

One classic example of a teen drama that parents can enjoy is “Cruel Intentions.” This 1999 film, which is based on a true modern take on “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” features a talented cast including Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, and Reese Witherspoon.

What can teenagers and parents learn from this movie?

It teaches a true story about family concepts such as love, betrayal, and power.

My So-Called Life

Another great example of a teen drama is the TV series “My So-Called Life.” This show, which aired in the mid-90s, follows the life of Angela Chase (played by Claire Danes), a high school student who is trying to find her place in the world.

Overall, the show deals with issues such as identity and family relationships.


For those looking for a more recent option, “Euphoria” is a popular teen drama that has been praised for its realistic portrayal of teenage life.

It is played by Zendaya with a group of high school students as they navigate issues such as addiction, mental health, and relationships. The show’s honest and raw portrayal of these issues has made it a hit with both teenagers and adults.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some good movies for parents and teens to enjoy together?

Some good movies for parents and teens to enjoy together are the following:

  • “The Breakfast Club”
  • “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”
  • “Dead Poets Society”
  • “Back to the Future”
  • “The Karate Kid”

What are some classic movies that are appropriate for teenagers and parents?

You can consider classic and relevant movie themes such as:

  • “Gone with the Wind”
  • “Casablanca”
  • “The Godfather”
  • “To Kill a Mockingbird”
  • “The Wizard of Oz”

What are some action movies that are appropriate for tweens and parents?

If you’re looking for action-packed scenes that will keep everyone on the edge of their seats, you can try these movies:

  • “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark”
  • “Die Hard”
  • “The Bourne Identity”
  • “The Matrix”
  • “Mission: Impossible”

What are some clean movies that will keep kids’ attention?

To capture and keep your kids’ attention, consider these entertaining and educational movies:

  • “The Lion King”
  • “Finding Nemo”
  • “Toy Story”
  • “Shrek”
  • “The Incredibles”

What are some Netflix movies that are appropriate for 13 year olds and their parents?

You can dive headfirst into a binge-watching session of these 13-year-old teenage movies:

  • “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”
  • “The Kissing Booth”
  • “The Half of It”
  • “Enola Holmes”
  • “The Princess Switch”

Can parents watch 15-rated movies with their under-15 children?

It is not recommended for parents to watch 15-rated movies with their under-15 children as these movies may contain scenes that are not suitable for younger audiences. The rating is in place to protect children from potentially harmful content.

Good to know: Parents should always check the rating of a movie before allowing their children to watch it.

Wrapping Up – feel young again with these awesome Teen Movies

Teen movies aren’t just for teens. Parents can find just as much joy with their teenagers and share a few laughs. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that not all teen movies might be right for every age group. Some may touch on mature themes or use strong language that might not be suitable for younger audiences. Therefore, as a parent, you should always take a moment to review the film before diving in with your teen.

Ultimately, embracing teen movies can pave the way for enriching interactions with your youngsters. It’s a chance to understand their world better and share a slice of cinematic magic. So, the next time you’re on the hunt for a film to relish with your teen, think about giving one of these classics a shot!

From teen flicks and deep cinematic wisdom, we shift gears to our younger audience. Get into Educational Movies for Kids and uncover films that blend fun with foundational learning.

About Krystal DeVille

Hello! I’m Krystal DeVille. By day, I wear many hats: a homeschool teacher, wife, and mother. By night, I’m a fervent journalist, pouring my thoughts and experiences onto paper. Parenthood, for me, has been an exhilarating roller-coaster filled with emotions, invaluable lessons, and moments of sheer joy. With three wonderful kids of my own, I’ve journeyed through the highs and lows — from sleepless nights to their very first steps and those unforgettable proud parent moments.

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