For today we’re going to be taking a look at some films in the female coming of age genre. Although the following films often depict the conflict and struggle of growing up. There’s something comforting about capturing the process of growing up and putting it to film. That comfort arises from identifying with the characters on screen. Films within this genre depict something that most people have been through. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they have been through the exact scenarios (although that may often be the case). It means that at the essence of growing up, there’s a need to belong and fit into the box that society has projected for whatever demographic people fit into. Audiences feel united with the character’s isolation from their peers. So in a way, isn’t this genre kind of perfect for right now? [Dani]
Finding the balance in the relationship between parent and child often seems impossible—a fact I’m discovering once again having been forced into my parents’ house for the duration of this pandemic. Everyone just wants the best for everyone else but the ways of achieving that are destined to cause deep frustrations. Freaky Friday presents something of an extreme version of this dynamic with Lindsay Lohan as a rebellious teen and Jamie Lee Curtis as her often overbearing mother who is due to marry her boyfriend following the death of her first husband. When the two women are forced to switch bodies, they must come to terms with the difficulties of each other’s lives in ways they never would have previously imagined and ultimately come to a deeper understanding and a better relationship. The film is chock full of imaginative comedy that is sure to amuse while also having a message that is very appropriate for the younger audience the film was aimed at but still resonates at any time in life. [Henry Baime]
Available on Disney Plus; $2.99 to rent on VOD
Mean Girls has a bit of a reputation as softer, family friendly Heather‘s, but its depiction of the hell that is high school is spot on. The Plastics are oft-referenced, but the heart and soul of the film are the band of outsiders on the peripheral. Cady is no more suited to their ways as she is to the glossy popular world, but it’s easier that way. Unpacking the caste system teenagers have made for themselves, Mean Girls is a movie about not fitting exactly into one level of the juvenile social hierarchy, and how that is what will tear it down.”Who here has ever felt personally victimized by Regina George?”… Or is any of it personal? Outside of the inner circle of current and former friends, the names in Regina’s Burn Book are part of an impersonal sadism. She wreaks havoc upon people she barely knows, because it’s easy when the fallout is only a brief laugh, and no consequence close to her. The ending is disturbing to think about, that we all cheer at the girl who gets hit by a car, because we witnessed her be awful to people she barely knows, so we enjoy something awful happen to someone we’ve known for 90 minutes. Maybe it’s not that deep, Mean Girls is mainly just an excuse to get a good laugh out of teenagers being genuinely awful to one another, and who doesn’t love Amy Poehler’s plastic surgery mommy dearest getting chewed on by a chihuahua? [Sarah]
Available on Hulu; $2.99 to rent on VOD
Jennifer’s Body was not very well received when it first came out. However, in recent years the film has made a complete comeback as it has a charm that seems to have been missing from teen horror during the time in which it was released. The feminist undertones and unconventional point of view make it perfect for the current era of film. Jennifer’s Body has undoubtedly become a cult classic and even though it is far from perfect, you can’t help but love it.
The film surrounds the happenings within the lives of two teenage girls, Needy (Amanda Seyfried) and Jennifer (Megan Fox). Jennifer is used in a botched sacrifice to the devil and becomes something more than human. She develops an appetite for teenage boys and Needy is the only person who has enough awareness of the situation to put a stop to it. Fox and Seyfried are an amazing duo and Fox undoubtedly delivers a solid performance as the beautiful and deadly Jennifer. It’s a fun friday night watch if you’re in the mood for dark comedy and teen horror. [Dani]
Available on Amazon Prime to rent for $3.99
Greta Gerwig’s solo debut (because everybody seems to forget about Nights and Weekends) feels a little quaint in the shadow of her exceptional retelling of Little Women, but there’s still a lot of passion, energy, and peace to be found in this semi-autobiographical tale of a precocious teenage girl coming of age in 2002 Sacramento. The placement of teen stars Timothée Chalamet, Lucas Hedges, and Beanie Feldstein alongside lead Saoirse Ronan helps turn the film into a bit of a prescient A24 bingo card, but the film truly belongs to Lady Bird’s parents, played to perfection by Laurie Metcalf and Tracy Letts. Letts and Metcalf help ground the film’s more traditional coming-of-age tactics in realism and warmth, and their presence help make the film a comforting blanket that drapes itself over the viewer. There’s little new or exhilarating about Lady Bird, but it’s personal and thoughtful, and that’s all a coming-of-age movie needs to really be. [Davey]
Lady Bird is available to stream on Amazon Prime and for rent on VOD for $3.99
I wrote a lot about the young adult genre recently in my review for this year’s Premature. Truth be told, the subgenre is one of my favorites that has flourished in recent years, as I once identified with them and can now look at them as tales from a simpler time. I have a special respect for The Edge of Seventeen as one of the better entries, thanks to its extreme focus on the development of Hailee Steinfeld’s protagonist. Nadine has become an extreme nihilist since her father’s passing, dealing with her self-absorbed mother and the budding relationship between her best friend and older brother.
Nadine is extremely impulsive and self-destructive, often confronting the people around her with bitterness and an unwillingness to actually open up about how she’s feeling. She often rants to her teacher (Woody Harrelson) about all of the things that she’s facing, and the two of them have a chemistry that really pops. It’s a film that can easily bring on feelings of secondhand embarrassment as Nadine stumbles through new relationships as well as her crumbling bonds with her friend and brother. It’s another great example of what this genre can do, and director Kelly Fremon Craig knocked it out of the park. [Jen]
Available on Netflix; $3.99 to rent on VOD
Quarantine Film Fest amanda seyfried amy poehler beanie feldstein freaky friday greta gerwig hailee steinfeld heathers jamie lee curtis jennifers body karyn kusama kelly fremon craig lady bird laurie metcalf lindsay lohan lucas hedges mark waters megan fox nights and weekends premature rachel mcadams saoirse ronan the edge of seventeen timothee chalamet tracy letts woody harrelson