Out of the hundreds of movies that are released each year, there is occasionally a film that is so special that it transcends its time and even its genre. The Breakfast Club, the seminal teen movie by filmmaking legend John Hughes, is one of those films. This movie, about a disparate group of high schoolers who bond over one seemingly never-ending Saturday detention, is a classic whose appeal will never fade, and has come to define the teen movie genre.
But The Breakfast Club's iconic status doesn't mean that there weren't teen movies that came before it that are still more than worth the watch. After all, The Breakfast Club was released in 1985, decades after the teen movie genre was created and really became a niche in itself. So which pre-Breakfast Club teen movies are still some can't-miss classics?
10 Fast Times At Ridgemont High
If you need a reason why Fast Times At Ridgemont High is required viewing for anyone who considers themselves to be a teen movie fan, it can be summed up in one word: Spicoli. Watching a very early career Sean Penn take on a decidedly comedic, lowbrow role makes Fast Times worth the watch on its own. If that's not enough of a selling point, take into consideration that the film was written by coming-of-age film expert Cameron Crowe and was actually the directorial debut of Amy Heckerling, who helmed another post-Breakfast Club teen movie you may have heard of, Clueless.
9 Rebel Without A Cause
If you're someone who is even remotely into teen movies, then Rebel Without A Cause is an absolute must-see film. Rebel Without A Cause is pretty much the OG of teen movies, and it does a fantastic job of melding all of the dramas surrounding teen life into one revolutionary story. Whether it's a drama or a comedy, every teen movie in existence draws at least some inspiration from Rebel Without A Cause. The film was such a landmark that it single-handedly cemented James Dean, as well as his leather jacket clad character, into permanent icon status.
The fad of teen movies tends to wax and wane over time, but flicks like Grease are movies that will never go out of style. Teen movie musicals are their own unique sub-genre, but Grease is unquestionably the most well-known and iconic example, with good reason. Watching John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John serenade each other through the constant drama of high school puppy love never gets old, and this period piece film really has it all: drama, comedy, singing, and dancing. It's everything that High School Musical wished it could be, and it's a true enduring classic.
7 American Graffiti
Although teen comedy has a reputation for being one of the more ignoble film genres, it seems like a lot of the world's most renowned actors, writers, and directors cut their teeth on these supposedly uncultured kinds of movies. American Graffiti is yet another entry on that list. The film was written and directed by George Lucas, and it stars Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, and an extremely young, and at the time unknown, Harrison Ford. The movie was inspired by George Lucas' own teenage experiences growing up in Modesto, California. Unsurprisingly, American Graffiti became an instant and perennially loved teen flick.
6 Sixteen Candles
The Breakfast Club is probably the pièce de résistance of John Hughes' career, but the filmmaker has quite a few entries into the genre that are still at the top of the heap. One of Hughes' best is his ode to Molly Ringwald, Sixteen Candles. The film follows our flame-haired heroine Sam throughout her woefully forgotten sixteenth birthday. Thankfully after some delightful teenage shenanigans, Sam manages to have the kind of sixteenth birthday that most teens and tweens wouldn't even dare dream of. And in a unique spin on a classic trope, the girl gets the guy of her dreams in the end.
5 A Hard Day's Night
The Beatles may be the most famous band of all time, but did you know that they dipped their toes into the world of film as well? Beatlemania was a cultural phenomenon unlike any other, and in an effort to capitalize on that insane popularity, this English foursome tried their hand at acting in a shockingly good teen film, A Hard Day's Night. Obviously the music of The Beatles plays a huge role in the film as well, but this madcap teen comedy really stands tall in its own right. It's fascinating to watch John, Paul, George, and Ringo bring all of their talents to the table.
4 Saturday Night Fever
Even if you've never seen Saturday Night Fever, you're likely familiar with its ubiquitous soundtrack. The movie stars John Travolta as Tony Manero, an Italian kid from Brooklyn, whose only reprieve in life is dancing the night away at his local disco club. The movie is a traditional coming-of-age drama with some unique song and dance elements. Saturday Night Fever is widely accepted as one of the main reasons disco music became such a hot trend in the '70s. Although disco seemed to die a pretty quick death, the soundtrack by the Bee Gees is still one of the most memorable movie soundtracks ever and is still all over the radio today.
3 Revenge Of The Nerds
If you ever had to suffer through not being the coolest kid in school, then clearly Revenge of the Nerds is the kind of flick made for you. Unfortunately, these titular nerds didn't just have to suffer through bullying in high school; their permanent dork status has ensured that their university's jock fraternity and sorority earns their constant ire as well. After enduring constant pranks by the jocks, the nerds decide to join the only fraternity that will accept them, and they then engage in the prank war to end all prank wars. And thankfully, they come out the winners for once.
There are certain movies that crash onto the scene and become total game changers for their film genre, While The Breakfast Club is at the top of its class, Porky's isn't far behind. This Canadian comedy is much filthier than most of its teen movie counterparts, but this saga of a group of high school boys who are desperate to lose their virginity never really loses its luster. It's definitely not a movie for the easily offended though, so if schoolboy creepers are not your jam, then this quintessential teen movie might not be for you.
1 The Outsiders
The teen movie genre is a broad one, and it can include anything from comedy to drama to even horror. But if you're looking for a teen drama that is soulful and enduring, then director Francis Ford Coppola's film adaptation of the classic SE Hinton novel The Outsiders might be just the ticket. The cast of The Outsiders is absolutely stacked, featuring superstars like Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, and Rob Lowe, which would almost make it worth the watch alone. But The Outsiders has a lot more to offer than what's just on paper, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who wouldn't enjoy this teen movie.