I have always been fascinated with the teen movie. I watch them now, even though I look somewhat ridiculous doing so at my age. "Who's the old broad?" I hear them whisper. Why can't people make their rude comments more quietly? Anyway, adolescence is such an interesting time period. The afflicted is undergoing chemical changes, odd and frightening hair styles, growth spurts, and more.
I will never forget the awesomeness or the hilarity of Sixteen Candles (1984) or Revenge of the Nerds (1984). My mother and sister held hands in front of the television set after having watched this one. It was a very tender moment in living room nerd comedy. In spite of a couple of decades' worth of teen movies, I decided to focus on some of the elements common to teen flicks of the last ten years. And while we're at it, I've never noticed the similarities between these two films until just now. They both involve nerds who use their status to eventually hang with the popular crowd. This is an element which also manifested itself in The Breakfast Club (1985) and Not Another Teen Movie (2001).
The first common element is the use of a number in the title, such as 10 Things I Hate About You (1999). Even though I wasn't enthralled with this particular film, I do believe in its basic arithmetic skill utilization (which most teens can handle) to include a number with the title. Other number films include Thirteen (2003) and 13 Going on 30 (2004), both of which were terrible at best.
A second element involves satirizing the genre itself. It's the one where the movie is actually a parody of other movies. This approach can be a slippery, mossy slope. If the movie isn't done well, then the result is bad hamburger meat at its absolute rarest. An example of one done mostly well is Not Another Teen Movie (2001). It had it all as far as elements are concerned. It had a country-speaking dude, two girls who shared a giant ear, a cameo appearance by the still smoking hot Molly Ringwald, incest, romance sans the incest, a school mascot, spitting coaches, and a token African American who acknowledges his status as such during the movie. I still watch this movie when nothing else is on. Now, that's almost some sort of devotion! Other parodies include all four installments of the Scary Movie franchise (2000-2006), Epic Movie (2007), and Meet The Spartans (2008).
A third element is the prom, as seen in Drive Me Crazy (1999). This include kids going to the prom, kids needing a ride to the prom, needing money for the prom, killing others at the prom, spiking the punch at the prom, spattering farm animal blood at the prom, and naming their illegitimate child after the prom (Promeciaquana). Okay, I don't know of a movie where that happens, but it could totally for certain happen! The prom is a classic theme. Even better is the prom on a note of horror, as is the case with the classic Carrie (1976), and several films titled Prom Night (1980, 2003, 2005, 2008).
Our fourth element is the remake of a remake and this one is a classical Vincent Price re-do which was itself a re-do of Mystery. It was an awful film that led us to a church and a gas station. It was, House of Wax (2005). It was more flaky and sick than it was interesting or frightening. It would have been a good movie if only it had been a good movie. And, in case you missed it, this movie was a re-do of a re-do. The Invasion (2007) was a re-do of The Body Snatchers (1993), which was a re-do of Body Snatchers (1978), which was a re-do of Invasion of The Body Snatchers (1956). I am out of breath at this point and I didn't even read any of this out loud.
The fifth element involves a movie that has made it to the fourth sequel or beyond. Sounds like a bad idea, doesn't it? Well, it is. The movie is Scary Movie 4 (2006). The first Scary Movie (2000) was the first parody of the series of parodies. It was funny. I laughed out loud. Scary Movie 2 (2001) was still funny. Scary Movie 3 (2003) stinks, as does part four. As if the fourth part weren't putrid enough, Dr. Phil made a cameo. Can you smell the stank or at least my disgust and some nausea? Four-part franchises for our specified time period and genre include Lost Tales from Camp Blood: Part 4.
The sixth element involves mental health issues. Our first issue is co-dependence, such that we saw in Superbad (2007). The co-dependence between the two main characters becomes clear as they have to separate one from another. Many a book has been written on this topic. I was fine with the books. But Superbad could just have easily been called Superawfulbad or SuperSucksSoMuch. I call it that, anyway. The next issue is drug abuse, which we see in Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle (2004). The young lads smoke a lot of weed and go on a series of misadventures as they head to White Castle. They have a harder than normal time getting there and talk a lot during their misadventure. One thing they talk about is some of the negative aspects to being stoned so much of the time. Finally, we have The New Guy (2002). And while I don't see it mentioned anywhere, there is a heapin' of abuse in this film, as D.J. Qualls, who plays the main character and has another, smaller role as well, tries to fit in to the new school that he has chosen to attend. He has to take out the head bully and there is plenty of blood on this trail, as is pointed out by his previous/nerdier group of friends.
A seventh element is cliques, such as in American Teen (2008). Cliques are big in the life of a teenager, hence the theme. It is only befitting that this be a major elemental factor. If only this movie could be considered a major. Ack! Other movies to bring cliques to the foreground are Employee of the Month (2006), Mean Girls (2004), and Whatever It Takes (2000).
While I've chosen to narrow this to seven elements that caught my eye, there are undoubtedly more that could be discussed. Like I said, teen movies have always intrigued me.