The top ten romantic movies that helped shape my views of love, life, and relationships during my teen years are movies that still have the power to move me, even today. They have the ability to take me back to those universal issues that I went through during my own high school years, the angst, the excitement of first attraction, the triumphs, the disappointments that teens have to live through. It’s a challenging time in life, and these movies got it right for me.
Sixteen Candles – You cannot argue this one. Jake Ryan was one of the most romantic icons a young teenage girl could have. He was gorgeous with a tough guy exterior, but we also saw that he had kindness and integrity. He wanted the smart, thinking, caring, quirky girl, not necessarily the beauty queen who was fine with trashing his house. But the best part of all? He goes after who he wants. There’s that moment, that one perfect moment at the end of the movie when Samantha is coming out of the church, having just gotten through the crazy wedding with her equally crazy family, and suddenly he’s there, waiting for her outside the church. Makes me tear up every time. Everyone wants to have their Jake Ryan.
Pretty in Pink – One of my favorite scenes is when Ducky comes to Andie’s place of work, the record store, and starts singing the Otis Redding song “Try a Little Tenderness”. Love that scene! It was a scene that prompted me to buy the Otis Redding album that had that song. I loved that she was so creative, making her own clothing. She represents the alienation we all feel at one point or other in life, not fitting the mold, which is truly a gift, but in high school, you don’t know that. I loved her strength, and it was the first movie I’d seen where a child had to step into a parent role. Her father was a flake, with reason, but still.
Breakfast Club – I wanted to see Claire (Molly Ringwald) get together with the bad boy, who I had the biggest crush on. They were so far apart in school culture and societal expectations, but I wanted to see her get a little dirty and him get a little clean. I wanted her to stop being such a tight-ass, and him to have some self-respect so they could meet in the middle and not just make it out alive, but thrive in life. I wanted them to be able to stick it to “the man”.
Some Kind of Wonderful – Eric Stoltz. Doesn’t that just say it all? And the angst Watts goes through watching him fight for a girl who doesn’t even care about him gets me every time, probably because I was a bit of a tomboy as a kid and didn’t know how to be soft for a long time. She was in love with him, but he only saw her as his friend. How was she going to get him to see that she was not one of the guys, and was, in fact, a girl with a sweet heart?
The Pirate Movie – Completely sexy for a young teen girl. All these hot guys were chasing all of these hot girls. There was tons of skin, tons of sexual innuendo, and the music was just fun. It was playful, didn’t show anything I wouldn’t want my own kids to see, and didn’t take itself seriously in the least.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – My mother loved musicals, and while there were many musicals I saw, this one sticks out the most. Again, all of these handsome mountain men were going after all of these beautiful young women, which involved a lot of singing and dancing. Great fun. Under it all, I loved that even though they were newly married, Milly kicks Adam out of the house until he can grow up, get his head on straight, and realize that he needed to learn what it meant to truly love and respect another person.
Grease – If this movie is on, you might have to cover your ears because I’m going to sing along, and I won’t by shy about it. I love the music, the dancing and the innocence of the romance. Who didn’t want to be Sandy wearing the black pants and leather jacket at the end of the movie, minus the cigarette, which she ends up ditching anyway? Innocence spreading her wings for a test flight into sensuality.
Desperately Seeking Susan – I had a thing for Madonna. I must admit this. I did my best, as much as my mother would allow, to wear clothes that would be reminiscent of her style. She was such a free spirit in the movie, and I thought it was awesome that Rosanna Arquette’s character had the opportunity to step outside of herself and experience life from a different perspective with joy, excitement and true love. I learned that we can’t let ourselves be hemmed into categories, and that realizing your full potential as a human was part of fulfilling your responsibility in life.
Footloose – Kevin Bacon was hot! Need I say more? It was also quite freaky that a small town would have a law against dancing. What was ultimately cool, the wild child preacher’s kid pretty girl breaks the stereotype she’s molded herself into and learns to have self-respect, and to question who she really wants to be in life.
Goonies – Just so playful and innocent. The cute girl grows a pair by the end of it all and isn’t just reliant on the jock to take care of her.
It was so hard to choose only ten movies because there were so many that I loved. I’m sure I’m missing a bunch that were equally good, but I’m sticking with these.
What teen romance movies influenced you growing up?
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