While girly teen movies might have enjoyed their heyday in the early 00’s, they’re making a stronger comeback than ever before, thanks to the likes of novel adaptations like The Fault in Our Stars and The DUFF. With the release of Paper Towns right around the corner, it seems that ‘girly’ movies are hogging all the action once again. But don’t worry guys—just because the movie looks like it’s targeted at a female audience, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it too.
All the pink and swirly font on the posters can be scary, and a story based on a young woman’s coming-of-age may seem like a purely female touchstone, but many girly teen movies actually appeal to a wide variety of audiences, including males and adults.
So in the spirit of sharing, we’ve compiled a list of the Top 15 Girly Teen Movies That Guys Can Enjoy, with the following rules in mind:
- The film must star a female protagonist, or prominently feature a female as part of the story.
- She must be in high school or high school-aged (sorry Legally Blonde and Pitch Perfect).
- The film must have a contemporary setting (so no Hunger Games or Ella Enchanted either).
Step Up (2006)
One of the best of the girly teen dance films (in a list that includes Center Stage and Save the Last Dance), Step Up is the film that taught us all Channing Tatum could dance – a skill he would revive for Magic Mike. The film follows Tyler (Tatum), a troubled and poor dancer who vandalizes a performing arts school and gets a chance to turn his life around through dance. While the romance isn’t unexpected, the choreography and music remain on point and impressive to watch. It was largely a critical failure, but it made up for the negative reviews at the box office, where it earned $21 million its opening weekend. The film has inspired four sequels, all of which shine for the choreography alone.
She’s All That (1999)
She’s All That recreates the narrative of My Fair Lady or Pygmalion in high school, telling the story of ugly duckling Laney Boggs (Rachel Leigh Cook), a frumpy tomboy made beautiful when quarterback Zack Siler (Freddie Prinze Jr.) takes her under his wing – and gives her a pair of contacts. More than any other teen film, this one seemed to serve as the main inspiration for the genre’s most well-known parody, Not Another Teen Movie. Something of a sleeper hit when it first released, She’s All That became a symbol of the entire era of teen comedies ‘with a message,’ going on to reach the top of the box office soon after.
The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
Based on the best-selling young adult novel, The Fault in Our Stars is a romantic-dramedy about two teens who meet in a cancer support group (so viewers should prepare for some stoic weeping). It follows the story of Hazel (Shailene Woodley), a sufferer of terminal thyroid cancer, beginning a deep relationship with Augustus (Ansel Elgort), a teenager whose bone cancer is in remission. The film (like the novel) was well-received, and Woodley received plenty of praise for her heart-wrenching performance. She and Elgort would go on to become modern teen darlings, with the pair later appearing in another young adult adaption, The Divergent Series – strangely enough, as siblings.
Pretty in Pink (1986)
One of most iconic classics of the 1980s, Pretty in Pink follows a poor girl named Andie (Molly Ringwald) who has the misfortune of falling in love with the super-wealthy Blane (Andrew McCarthy). Social barriers and friends threaten to keep the couple apart, but given that it’s a John Hughes movie, audiences can rest easy that everything works out in the end. At the time of its release, Pretty was both a critical and commercial success, and the warm-and-fuzzy ending ensured it would remain in the pop-culture pantheon, becoming one of the most often-referenced entries in Hughes’ catalogue.
Saved! puts the spotlight on the duo of Macaulay Culkin and Mandy Moore, set mainly within a group of religious teenagers at a Catholic high school. After Mary (Jena Malone) becomes pregnant with her homosexual ex-boyfriend’s child, she must deal with her own religious crisis while the other students begin to ostracize her. Although the film takes on heavy subject matter, it’s comedy (and strong supporting cast) shines, blending genuine wit with satire of the teen genre. Despite some criticizing the supposed anti-Christian agenda, the movie became a cult-hit among teens already familiar with the subject matter.
Critically beloved, Diablo Cody’s Juno tells the unlikely tale of its sixteen-year-old heroine, thrown into the deep end of life… better known as ‘teen pregnancy.’ Juno is the best type of female lead: smart, funny, and totally relatable, no matter the viewer’s gender. The film is aided by stellar performances from Page, Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, and J.K. Simmons, receiving four Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Original Screenplay, which it won.
Jawbreakers starts with over-the-top teen sweetness with its focus on the “Flawless Four,” the four most popular girls in their high school, as they prepare to celebrate the seventeenth birthday of the prom queen. Fortunately, the giggling and celebrating quickly takes a dark turn when they accidentally murder her with a jawbreaker. While it was a critical and financial failure at the time of its release, it’s gone on to attain cult-classic status thanks to the crazy scenarios and brightly dark vibe. The danger of social cliques themes has drawn several comparisons to two other films on this list – Heathers and Mean Girls.
Heathers is a cult-classic centering on a popular clique made entirely of girls named ‘Heather.’ When Veronica (Winona Ryder) is asked to join the group, she quickly misses her old, nerdy lifestyle. Soon she starts to fall for the dark and mysterious J.D. (Christian Slater), who shows her a new way to take care of the Heathers—killing them. While a commercial failure, the movie was critically well-received for its dark and humorous take on the teen genre, before going on to become a cult-classic.
easy A (2010)
Partially inspired by The Scarlett Letter, this 2005 film follows the aftermath of the high school rumor mill run amuck when Olive (Emma Stone) lies about losing her virginity to a college student. Soon, Olive is lying about fooling around with other boys in her school to help their reputation, while her own begins to suffer. The script for easy A is witty and fun, but it’s Emma Stone’s charming performance that pushes this movie into gold status.
Bring it On (2000)
A movie about the vicious world of competitive cheerleading may not sound like a widely appealing property, but Bring it On – starring Kirsten Dunst and Eliza Dushku defies expectations. When a champion cheerleading squad discovers that their old captain has stolen their routines, the squad’s captain Torrance (Dunst) must scramble to pull off a new championship routine. While the plot may seem silly, the over-the-top cheering and humorous situations ensures this movie a spot on the list. Not only was the film a commercial success when it was released, but it also went on to achieve cult-classic status and spawned four direct-to-video sequels and a stage musical.
Sixteen Candles (1984)
Our second and final John Hughes movie, Sixteen Candles once again stars Molly Ringwald as Sam Baker. In typical teen movie fashion, a series of high school tragedies pile one on top of the other: Sam’s entire family forgets about her sixteenth birthday, her crush finds a personal quiz containing embarrassing information, and a visit from her grandparents. The film received mostly positive reviews, but the character of Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe) hasn’t survived the test of time. Many criticize the role as one of the most offensive Asian characters in a movie.
Mean Girls (2004)
Mean Girls was one of the first chances audiences got to see the true talent of Tina Fey, with the film based on a non-fiction book about the dangers of teenage social cliques for young girls. When Cady (Lindsay Lohan) transfers to a new high school, she immediately falls in with The Plastics—the coolest girls in school. Life as a Plastic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and its blend of physical comedy, quotable banter, and still relevant message showed the genre could still produce undeniable hits. The film is one of the greatest teen comedies ever made, featuring Lindsay Lohan in her best role ever and Rachel McAdams as the horrible Regina George.
The DUFF (2015)
The most recent girly teen movie offering to make the list, The DUFF is also based on a young adult novel of the same name by Kody Keplinger. When Bianca (Mae Whitman) discovers that people in school consider her to be the ‘Designated Ugly Fat Friend’ in her peer circle, she enlists jock/playboy/childhood friend Wesley (Robbie Amell) to un-DUFF her so she can get a date with her guitar-playing crush. Whitman and Amell’s chemistry is explosive and charming (while defying most expectations), and Allison Janney’s turn as the distracted mother is amazing to watch.
The richest, prettiest, and most popular student in Beverly Hills, Cher (Alicia Silverstone), decides to help out a less-fortunate student (played by Brittany Murphy) by upping her popularity, only to have numerous romantic liaisons get in her way. With biting satire and clever humor (and a story loosely based on Jane Austen’s “Emma”), it became a sleeper hit, grossing $55 million during its theatrical run. It’s now considered by many as one of the smartest teen movies of all time, earning it the second spot on our list.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
10 Things I Hate About You is the film from 1999 that introduced us to the likes of Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Heath Ledger, which earns it the top spot on this list. When Cameron (Levitt) moves to a new school, he instantly falls in love with the beautiful Bianca (Larisa Oleynik). But Bianca isn’t allowed to date until her older sister Kat (Stiles) dates, so Cameron cooks up a plan for the resident bad boy Patrick (Ledger) to woo Kat, which leads directly to Ledger’s memorable performance of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” The film was critically well-received, with only The Matrix beating it out on its opening weekend. And a bonus: the film is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, so you can consider it semi-educational.
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