Best Coming-of-age Movies


  • Adventureland

    Adventureland (R, 2009)

    Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Martin Starr, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader
    Inspired by writer/director Greg Mottola's own true-life job-from-hell experience, Adventureland sta... read morers The Education of Charlie Banks' Jesse Eisenberg as an uptight recent college graduate who discovers that he'll have to get a degrading minimum-wage job at a local amusement park instead of spending his summer drinking German beer, visiting world-class museums, and flirting with cute French girls. It's the summer of 1987, and James Brennan (Eisenberg) has just graduated from college. James is all set to embark on his dream tour of Europe when his parents (Wendie Malick and Jack Gilpin) suddenly announce that they won't be able to subsidize the trip. Now the only things James has to look forward to this summer are sugar-fueled children, belligerent dads, and an endless parade of giant stuffed animals. When James strikes up a relationship with captivating co-worker Em (Kristen Stewart), however, he finally starts to loosen up. Suddenly, the worst summer ever doesn't seem quite so bad. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
  • Stand by Me

    Stand by Me (R, )

    Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell, Richard Dreyfuss
    Based on the Stephen King short story The Body, Rob Reiner's easygoing nostalgia piece is set in Cas... read moretle Rock, OR, over Labor Day weekend, 1959. A quartet of boys, inseparable friends all, set out in search of a dead body that one of the boys overhears his brother talking about. The foursome consists of intellectual Gordie (Wil Wheaton), born leader Chris (River Phoenix), emotionally disturbed Teddy (Corey Feldman), and chubby hanger-on Vern (Jerry O'Connell). The boys' adventures en route to the elusive body are colored by the personal pressures brought to bear on all of them by the adult world. Richard Dreyfuss, playing the grown-up Gordie, narrates the film, while Kiefer Sutherland dominates every scene he's in as a brutish high-school bully. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
  • Y Tu Mamá También

    Y Tu Mamá También (R, 2001)

    Maribel Verdu, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, Diana Bracho, Emilio Echeverria
    Mexican-born, New York-based filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón directed this Mexican box-office smash hit abo... read moreut a pair of randy upper-class buddies that sparked some controversy for its frank depiction of drug use and sexual exploration. With their respective girlfriends away in Europe, Julio (Gael García Bernal) and his upper-class friend Tenoch (Diego Luna) are looking forward to a summer full of drink, drugs, and cheap meaningless sex. During a wedding, they meet Luisa (Maribel Verdú) -- the 28-year-old wife of Tenoch's scholarly cousin -- and try to convince her to go on a road trip to Heaven's Mouth, a made-up beach paradise the two claim is on the Oaxacan coast. To their surprise, Luisa -- who is looking to escape her troubled life for a spell -- agrees to go along. Two days into the trip, tension starts to build between the two friends: Luisa has had sex with each, and now both lads are not-so-quietly vying for her affection. Soon simmering jealousies boil over into savage arguments, threatening to completely destroy their friendship. After an enormously successful run in Mexico and Guatemala, this film was screened to much acclaim at the 2001 Venice, Toronto, and New York Film Festivals. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi
  • An Education

    An Education (PG-13, 2009)

    Peter Sarsgaard, Carey Mulligan, Alfred Molina, Rosamund Pike, Dominic Cooper
    A suburban London teen finds her traditional education replaced by something slightly more sinister ... read morewhen an older, more worldly suitor sweeps her off of her feet while placing her future in jeopardy. London, 1961: 16-year-old Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is smart, attractive, and eager to start her adult life. She's grown tired of the familiar adolescent routine, so when urbane newcomer David (Peter Sarsgaard) appears in town, Jenny senses a rare opportunity to shake things up a bit. Quickly falling under David's spell, the impressionable Jenny begins accompanying her newfound beau to classical concerts, art auctions, crowded pubs, and dinners that stretch into the small hours of the night. But Jenny is brighter than most kids her age, and her parents always dreamt of getting their exceptional daughter into Oxford. These days it seems like she's headed in a different direction -- will David ultimately be her undoing, or the person who helps her finally realize her true potential? ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
  • Almost Famous

    Almost Famous (R, 2000)

    Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee
    Writer and director Cameron Crowe's experiences as a teenage rock journalist -- he was a regular con... read moretributor to Rolling Stone while still in high school -- inspired this coming-of-age story about a 15-year-old boy hitting the road with an up-and-coming rock band in the early 1970s. Elaine Miller (Frances McDormand) is a bright, loving, but strict single parent whose distrust of rock music and fears about drug use have helped to drive a wedge between herself and her two children, Anita (Zooey Deschanel) and William (Patrick Fugit). Anita rebels by dropping out of school and becoming a stewardess, but William makes something of his love of rock & roll by writing album reviews for a local underground newspaper. William's work attracts the attention of Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman), editor of renegade rock magazine Creem, who takes William under his wing and gives him his first professional writing assignment -- covering a Black Sabbath concert. While William is unable to score an interview with the headliners, the opening act, Stillwater, are more than happy to chat with a reporter, even if he's still too young to drive, and William's piece on the group in Creem gains him a new admirer in Ben Fong-Torres (Terry Chen), an editor at Rolling Stone. Torres offers William an assignment for a 3,000-word cover story on Stillwater, and over the objections of his mother (whose parting words are "Don't use drugs!"), and after some stern advice from Bangs (who says under no circumstances should he become friends with a band he's covering), Williams joins Stillwater on tour, where he becomes friendly with guitarist Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup) and singer Jeff Bebe (Jason Lee). William also becomes enamored of Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), a groupie traveling with the band who is no older than William, but is deeply involved with Russell. Lester Bangs and Ben Fong-Torres, incidentally, were real-life rock writers Crowe worked with closely during his days as a journalist. Almost Famous' original score was composed by Nancy Wilson of Heart (who is also Crowe's wife). ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
  • Youth in Revolt

    Youth in Revolt (R, 2010)

    Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Zach Galifianakis, Erik Knudsen
    Superbad's Michael Cera discovers a vacation romance in Youth in Revolt, a teen comedy from Charlie ... read moreBartlett's screenwriter, Gustin Nash, and director Miguel Arteta (Chuck & Buck). The film is an adaptation of C.D. Payne's first book in a series of best-selling satirical novels starring Nick Twisp, a sexually charged 14-year-old whose intelligence and hormones get him into all sorts of adventures. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi
  • Whip It

    Whip It (PG-13, 2009)

    Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Drew Barrymore, Juliette Lewis
    Drew Barrymore makes her directorial debut with Whip It!, the story of an ex-beauty pageant contesta... read morent named Bliss (played by Juno's Ellen Page) who leaves her crowns behind after joining a roller-derby team. While her mother would prefer that Bliss unlace her skates and step back before the judges, the rebellious teen instead seeks the wisdom of rowdy mentor Malice in Wonderland (Kristen Wiig) in learning the tricks of the circuit track. The Mandate Pictures production was written by roller derby star-turned-screenwriter Shauna Cross. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi
  • Dirty Dancing

    Dirty Dancing (PG-13, 1987)

    Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach, Cynthia Rhodes, Jack Weston
    A teenage girl learns about love, adult responsibility, and how to do The Dirty Boogie in this roman... read moretic drama. In 1963, "Baby" Houseman (Jennifer Grey) is a 17-year-old spending the summer with her family at a resort hotel in the Catskills; she plans on being in the Peace Corps next summer, so this is expected to be her last summer as a carefree adolescent. Baby doesn't get along with her older sister, Lisa (Jane Brucker), and she's bored to tears by most of the older guests at the resort. However, one night Baby hears what sounds like a party going on in the employee's dormitory, and she pokes her head in to discover most of the hotel staff enjoying the sort of close dancing that would get you kicked out of the senior prom in no time flat. Baby is particularly struck by handsome Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze), a dancer in the resort's floor show, and falls head over heels in love, wanting to be near him. When Johnny's dance partner, Penny (Cynthia Rhodes), finds herself pregnant after a fling with one of the waiters, Baby volunteers to learn her steps and take her place; however, Baby's father, Dr. Jake Houseman (Jerry Orbach), will have none of it, convinced that Johnny is a low life and that his daughter is too young to understand her own feelings. Dirty Dancing was a surprise box-office hit, and the soundtrack album was an even bigger success, spawning several hit singles and inspiring a top-drawing concert tour featuring several of its artists. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
  • The Wackness

    The Wackness (R, 2008)

    Ben Kingsley, Josh Peck, Famke Janssen, Olivia Thirlby, Mary-Kate Olsen
    A psychiatrist (Ben Kingsley) is put into a moral quandary when a young drug dealer who's been suppl... read moreying him with pot in exchange for clinical treatment ends up dating his daughter in this comedy from All the Boys Love Mandy Lane's writer/director Jonathan Levine. Josh Peck, Famke Janssen, Mary-Kate Olsen, and Method Man co-star in the Occupant Films production. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi