Usually a review like this would start with the worst one, thus building suspense as they approach the reviewer’s top pick.
The problem with that is that it makes for some awkward, incohesive reading — and to cause you, the reader, any inconvenience or discomfort through unfamiliar rating methods would be the last thing I would want to do. So here you have it — my top five coming-of-age films, starting with my favorite.
City of God
Have you ever felt like the whole world was conspiring against you? Like after you leave a test that you just dropped on Hiroshima and you feel like you just got sucker-punched by the Common Core? Well, you disgust me.
You genuinely have no idea what millions of kids all over the world have to deal with on a daily basis — all their suffering and pain as they lay dying in the dirt from an infected gunshot wound while you complain about your World Lit class and how it’s “super hard”.
Watching Fernando Meirelles’ 2002 film “City of God” is like if the new exchange student from rural Brazil got fed up with your incessant whining, sat you down, inquired as to whether or not you knew what “pain really is”, and then proceeded to beat you down with brilliant cinematography, perfect pacing, skillful storytelling, and real development of character.
And as you lay bloodied and bruised on the floor, face frozen in awe at the sheer majesty that was “City of God”, you can’t help but feel a tinge of guilt for complaining about anything that wasn’t related to your family getting murdered by drug-gangs.
10/10 – highly recommended.
Of all the immature teen comedies, Greg Mottola’s 2007 film “Superbad” is king. The sheer quantity of liquid absurdism the film pours out is enough to drown Tim Burton in an olympic-sized swimming pool. The plot follows actors Jonah Hill and Michael Cera as they try to buy beverages of the alcoholic variety for a party during their last few days of high-school. Shenanigans ensue.
In short, if you’re planning to waste your time with a Franco high-school drama, you might as well go for something new for a change — you worthless pile of soiled carbon.
Good films like this flood the genre, and you have the audacity — the AUDACITY — to watch anything else. No wonder this generation is going to the pits. If you want to make sure what you watch isn’t super-bad, try “Superbad”. God help me. Available on Netflix.
8/10 – pretty good.
Y Tu Mama Tambien
Why are you even still reading? I’ve already suggested two perfectly good distractions from your worthless life.
The only rational excuse you could possibly have is that you’ve already seen both of the above films, in which case I highly encourage you to watch Alejandro Cuaron’s big 2001 debut film, “Y Tu Mama Tambien”.
A slice-of-life film about a couple of Mexican teenagers exploring the tumultuous post-socialist Mexico, the film showcases the vibrant, untamable Mexican spirit as it puppeteers the souls of our protagonists through a wildly explicit and questionable adventure.
My parents, both having come of age in Mexico, claim that the film accurately depicts the discordian reality of Mexican youth —- and now having seen the film myself, I am beginning to question my own upbringing under their roof.
12/15 – yeepers, what a film.
“Boyhood” was, in my opinion, the worst film of 2014. It wasted 10 years with a story that was completely reliant on the nostalgic appeal of youth rather than the thrill of watching a real coming-of-age story.
Following a character’s journey from an unremarkable youth to an edgy teen to finally realizing his true calling as a pretentious young adult, the film doesn’t waste effort in investigating the evolution of a genuine character and rather follows the life of the most punchable face in film history.
Now the film “Moonlight”, directed by new-face Barry Jenkins, was certainly not “Boyhood”. Its main protagonist, quiet and reserved like that sorry-excuse-for-a-Human-being Mason, has a character that you watch develop through a journey of self-discovery from preadolescence to adult in his low income neighborhood.
122/165 – pretty weird.
The Breakfast Club
Because it wouldn’t be a “coming of age films” list without a mention of the abomination-monger John Hughes — who single-handedly headed the vanguard that aimed to destroy the credibility of the 80’s as a reputable decade for media.
I can never forgive this man for the damage he has done with this film. Arguably the one good thing this man has ever done with his life was direct the 1985 drama/comedy “The Breakfast Club”.
In it, angsty teens sit in an angsty circle and talk about angst. While watching this film, I’m reminded of the nursery rhyme “Nobody likes me” but with some slight variations in lyrics. “Nobody likes us, everybody hates us, think I’ll go get high!”
If I haven’t sold you yet, let me just say that this film is worth watching if you want to understand why your parents are so screwed up in that weird way.
4/5 – What better way to show teenagers bonding than a classic bonding rain-dance? So go and enjoy yourself.