Since the 1950s, the
American teenager has enjoyed more affluence, mobility and freedom than
any other youth group in the world. Yet look at American teen movies -
from James Dean’s anguished "You’re tearing me apart!" in Rebel Without
a Cause (1955) to John Hughes’s The Breakfast Club (1985), where one troubled
teenager asks, "My God, are we going to be like our parents?" - and what
do you see? A colourful and cacophonous parade of alienated outsiders,
suicides, depressives, killers, spoilt brats, slackers, dopers, delinquents,
Generation X whiners and self-aggrandising losers.
That golden age, when the pursuit of unhappiness was the patriotic duty of every young American, is now gone. In the mid-1990s, American teens decided that alienation and angst were the vaudeville and burlesque of the soul, something too out of date to do, and reclaimed their right to party.
- Cosmo Landesman, "The London Times"
A geek is a guy who
has everything going for him, but he's just too young. By contrast, a nerd
will be a nerd all of his life.
- John Hughes, film director
Not for the first time,
today I spent an entire film wishing that I could suddenly become a 15-year-old
girl... because 15-year-old girls are currently the best-served demographic
in the American moviegoing audience.
- John Patterson, "The Guardian"
If you think Lola seems
every bit as ambitious and self-centred as Carla, you’re overlooking one
thing: we can tell Lola is nice because she’s prepared to have a plain
girl as her best friend.
- Edward Porter spots a cliche in "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen", "The London Times"
The scariest thing
about this tedious, derivative tripe is the foul-mouthed dumbness of the
teenage victims, who spend most of the movie running wantonly into harm's
- Peter Whittle, reviewing "Jeepers Creepers 2" for "The Times"
The film adheres to
a time-tested horror formula: Make sure that many of the people in harm's
way are nubile teenagers. It's even mentioned in "Vampire Bats" that the
area is suffering from a heat wave, all the better to justify the teenagers
prancing and dancing in minimal amounts of attire.
- Tom Shales, "Washington Post"
If you stop to think
about it, "She’s All That" is actually "Carrie" minus the carnage. I wouldn’t
blame you at all, though, if you didn’t stop to think about it.
- Paul Tatara
You know a family movie
is not holding your attention when you start wondering which of the teenage
co-stars are hooking up in their trailers between takes.
- Violet Glaze, reviewing "Yours, Mine, and Ours" in "Baltimore City Paper"
The ironclad conventions
of the genre demand that Stream (Bonnie Root) transfer her affections from
the bad rich boy (archetypally impersonated by James Spader in "Pretty
in Pink" many years ago and here played by James Roday) to the social misfit
whose true sensitivity is camouflaged in sullenness and sarcasm.
- AO Scott, reviewing "Coming Soon"
take it as a rule of nature that all American high schools are ruled by
a pack of snobs, led by a supremely confident young woman who is blonde,
superficial, catty and ripe for public humiliation. This character is followed
everywhere by two friends who worship her, and are a little bit shorter.
Those schools also contain a group of friends who are not popular and do
not think of themselves as pretty, although they are smarter, funnier and
altogether more likeable than the catty-pack. In the classic form of this
formula, the reigning blonde dates a hunk who the mousy outcast has a crush
on, and everything gets cleared up at the prom when the hunk realizes the
mouse is the real beauty, while the evil nature of the popular girl is
exposed in a sensationally embarrassing way.
- Roger Ebert, explains the 'Teen Movie' formula in his review of "Sleepover"
The invaluable Heather
Matarazzo now has a lock on the geeky plain girl roles, even though she
is in actual fact sweet and pretty. Just as Latina actresses have risen
up in arms against Jennifer Connelly for taking the role of John Forbes
Nash's Salvadoran wife in "A Beautiful Mind," so ugly girls should picket
- Roger Ebert, from his review of "Sorority Boys"
It involves teenagers
who have never existed, doing things no teenager has ever done, for reasons
no teenager would understand. Of course, it's aimed at the teenage market.
Maybe it's intended as escapism.
- Roger Ebert, reviewing "Whatever It Takes", "Chicago Sun Times"
Hollywood teenage movies
have been edging toward fascism for years. There once may have been a time
when nice kids got ahead by being nice, but in today's Hollywood, muscle
and brute strength count for everything.
- Roger Ebert, reviewing "Three O'Clock High", "Chicago Sun Times"
Films for the teenage
demographic are terrified of romance and intimacy between the sexes, and
shyly specialize in boys plotting about girls and girls plotting about
boys, with as few actual scenes between boys and girls as possible
- Roger Ebert, reviewing "On The Line", "Chicago Sun Times"
Hasn't anyone told
them (or don't they remember?) that sex is a terrifically serious, scary
and delicate business when you're a teenager, and that these movies depict
sexual conduct that is way out of the norm?
- Roger Ebert, reviewing "Private School For Girls"
As a topic of fiction,
the only things I have against young love are youth and romance. There
has to be something more. Who would care about Romeo and Juliet if it hadn't
been for their unfortunate misunderstanding? There has to be comedy, or
tragedy, or suspense, or personality quirks or something more than the
fact that Young Person A loves Young Person B.
- Roger Ebert, reviewing "The Hottest State"
We know from "Down
in the Valley" and countless other movies that the bedrooms of teenage
girls are sadly lacking in security, and that their parents sleep the sleep
of the dead.
- Roger Ebert, reviewing "The King"
There is a certain
kind of teenager who always seems to be waiting for something. Some live
in the moment, but these others — these waiting ones — seem to be the victims
of time. It stretches before them in long, empty hours. You can look at
them and almost literally see the need in their eyes. It is a need to be
someone else, somewhere else.
- Roger Ebert, reviewing "Smooth Talk", "Chicago Sun Times"
Not very much really
happens in "Duck Season," but in its rich details, it remembers how absorbing
and endless every single day can seem when you're 14.
- Roger Ebert, reviewing "Duck Season", "Chicago Sun Times"
Cassie has arrived
at that age when parents were put on this earth merely as an inconvenience
- Roger Ebert, reviewing "RV"
Of all decades, the
1950s seems to have the most staying power. The decade stays forever young,
perhaps because that's when modern teenagers were invented.
- Roger Ebert, reviewing "Cars"
Most movies have no
idea how thoughtful and responsible many teenagers are — how seriously
they take their lives, how carefully they agonize over personal decisions.
"Flirting" is one of those rare movies with characters I cared about intensely.
I didn't simply observe them on the screen, I got involved in their decisions
and hoped they made the right ones. Rare movies like this remind us that
the movies are capable of providing us with the touch of other lives, that
when all the conditions are right we can grow a little and learn a little,
just like the people on the screen.
- Roger Ebert, "Chicago Sun Times"
"The Tree of Knowledge"
is the truest and most moving film I have ever seen about the experience
of puberty, about the little joys and great heartbreaks of the crucial
first years of adolescence. It is also one of this year's best films on
any subject — a creative act of memory about exactly what it was like to
be 13 in 1953.
- Roger Ebert, "Chicago Sun Times"
This is also a comedy
that bites, and a romance during which a boy and a girl fall in love while
they are engaged in an experiment to reproduce movie kisses. They start
with the greatest movie kiss of all time, which he thinks is the one between
John Cusack and Ione Sky in "Say Anything," the kiss in the rain that lasts
about three seconds and you almost miss it. When Holden describes it to
Charlotte, she simply says "show me," and walks out into the rain. They
eventually get around to the longest kiss in movie history, which I always
thought was the one between Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in "Notorious,"
but no, it was between Jane Wyman and Regis Toomey in "You're in the Army
Now," and it clocked at 185 seconds. Of course only a kid who works in
a video store would know that.
- Roger Ebert, reviewing "Kids in America"
As a teenager I was
consumed by the novels of Thomas Wolfe. His autobiographical heroes were
filled with a passion to devour life, to experience everything, to make
love to every woman, read every book in the library. I read every word
Wolfe ever published. Today I find him unreadable — yes, even Look Homeward,
Angel and You Can't Go Home Again . I have outlived that moment when all
life seemed spread before me, all possibilities open to me, all achievements
within my reach. Outlived it, but not forgotten it. "Lost and Delirious"
stirred within me memories of that season in adolescence when the heart
leaps up in passionate idealism... In the immortal words of every
high school movie — for Mouse, after this year, things will never be the
same again. Of course, after every year, nothing is ever the same again
for anyone, but when you're 16, it seems to be all about you.
- Roger Ebert, "Chicago Sun Times"
The movie is astonishingly
foul-mouthed, but in a fluent, confident way where the point isn't the
dirty words, but the flow and rhythm, and the deep, sad yearning they represent...
The lads are not seeking perfect love. They have heard about girls who
get drunk and sleep with the wrong guy, and their modest ambition is simply
to be the wrong guy. (Note: There is a thin line between being the wrong
guy and being a criminal.) Fogell, for that matter, would be happy to even
be the wrong wrong guy. (Note: Let's stop these notes and make a blanket
announcement: This movie was made by professionals. Do not attempt any
of this behavior yourself.)
- Roger Ebert, reviewing "Superbad"
The movie succeeds
as a teen’s wild fantasy of a night in which everything goes wrong, revised
by an adult’s melancholy sense that nothing was ever meant to go right.
- David Denby, reviewing "Superbad", "The New Yorker"
When I was 14, I wanted,
more than anything else on earth, to be am American. More accurately, I
wanted to be an American student. I wanted to go to high school. I wanted
the tuxedo to wear to the prom. I wanted the photograph in the yearbook.
I wanted to date the cheerleaders. Everything I thought I knew about young
Americans came from Hollywood films.
- Sarfraz Manzoor, recalling 'timeless classic' "The Breakfast Club", "The Irish Independent"
There seems to be a
certain type of girl in every school or every movie about high school.
She’s not the absolute hottest girl in class, but she’s hot enough that
no dude would ever turn her down for a date. She’s not just good looking,
but she’s smart too. Not like Angelina Jolie in Hackers smart, but still
smart enough to be an honor student kicking most people’s ass GPA-wise.
If you were a nerd, you wanted to hate this girl — she was too pretty to
be that smart and too smart to be that pretty — but you couldn’t because
she was nice too. She would talk to you like you weren’t a loser. She might
have even done something really nice for you once or twice. She was hot
and smart, and somehow it didn’t all go to her head, she was your dream
date. The K700 is that girl.
- Review of Sony Ericsson K700 phone by Eric Lin on "EnGadget"
This is your embedded
middle-aged male movie critic, reporting from somewhere near the unprotected
border between pubescent girlhood and young womanhood. Sometimes a movie
critic just has to acknowledge that he does not fall within a particular
film's target demographic. But it can be a fascinating and enlightening
sociological expedition to see it with the very audience for whom it was
intended. In this instance, that meant watching "John Tucker Must Die"
from deep inside a preview screening of about 78 percent teenage girls,
21 percent teenage boys, and 0.4 percent movie critics. I do not know who
those other 0.6 percent were, or what they were doing there.
- Jim Emerson, reviewing "John Tucker Must Die", "RogerEbert.Com"
"I wasn't kidding. I do have a test today. It's on European Socialism. What's the big deal? I'm not European. I don't plan on becoming European. So why should I care if they're socialists? They could be facist, anarchist pigs. It still wouldn't change the fact that I don't have a car."
"The weirdest thing
just happened to me."
"Was it a dream where you were standing in sort of sun-god robes on top of a pyramid, and there were hundreds of naked women screaming and throwing little pickles at you?"
"Why am I the only one who has that dream?"
- Mitch & Chris, "Real Genius"
"That's the thing about
these high school girls man.... I keep getting older... and they stay the
- Dazed & Confused
"Why did we even come
here? I always feel a little out of place at these things you know."
"You're telling me. You know I'm being stalked by a Nazi."
- Dazed & Confused
"Why be good? I'm always
good. Where's my upside to being good?"
- Mox, "Varsity Blues"
"I don't date football
"I've always been a football player!"
- Jules and Mox, "Varsity Blues"
"Do I look crazy?"
"You look like someone who's gonna get the hell out of Odessa, Texas one day and never look back. Seriously works for me."
- Melissa and Mike, "Friday Night Lights"
"We've gotta lighten
up. We're 17!"
"Do you feel 17?"
"I don't feel 17."
- Chavo, Don and Mike, "Friday Night Lights"
"Being perfect is not
about that scoreboard out there. It's not about winning. It's about you
and your relationship with yourself, your family and your friends. Being
perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that
you didnt let them down because you told them the truth. And that truth
is you did everything you could. There wasnt one more thing you could've
done. Can you live in that moment?"
- Coach Gaines, "Friday Night Lights"
"I'm gonna miss the
"I'm gonna miss the lights."
- Chavo and Don, "Friday Night Lights"
"You karate yes, fine.
You karate no, fine. You karate maybe, you get squished like grape."
- Mr. Miyagi, with some advice for Daniel, "The Karate Kid"
"This ain't no soap
opera Daddy, this is a Jerry Springer episode waiting to happen."
- Baby, "Lone Star State of Mind"
"You go up the elevator,
I'll go up the backstairs."
"It's so sneaky it's like James Bond."
- Anne Marie & Matt, avoiding attention, "Blue Crush"
"Can I ask you a really
weird question? Are you wearing my cologne?"
"Yes... sorry if my pits stink man, but that's just the way it goes."
- Matt & Anne Marie, getting closer, "Blue Crush"
"I'm dedicating this
unusual song to an unusual person who makes me feel kind of ... unusual."
- Mark Hunter, "Pump Up The Volume"
"You're a creature
of the night, Michael. Wait'll Mom hears about this."
- The Lost Boys
"I think I should warn
you all, when a vampire buys it, it's never a pretty sight. No two blood
suckers go out the same way. Some yell and scream, some go quietly, some
explode, some implode. But, all will try and take you with them."
- Edgar Frog, 'The Lost Boys'
"Never say who's there? Don't you watch scary movies? It's a death wish. You might as well come out to investigate a strange noise or something. "
"Movies don't create
psychos. Movies make psychos more creative!"
"Life is like a movie.
You just can't pick your genre."
- Billy, "Scream"
"Girls watch out for
those wierdo's. "
"We are the wierdo's mister. "
- Bus Driver & Nancy, "The Craft"
"We are f****d. Take
a look at the world we inherited. We're a bunch of fast-food munching MTV
freaks humping the great Amercian Dream."
- Nick, "The Forsaken"
"I've got an opening
for a new girlfriend. What do you say?"
"Oh, attitude. I like that in a girl."
- Kit and Megan, "The Forsaken"
"No, I mean, what are
you gonna be when you grow up? "
"A burden on society."
"I was wondering if
you were free today?"
"Yeah. I'm free everyday, it's in the Constitution."
- Michael and Stephanie, "Grease 2"
"I love you more than
I can ever explain at this particular moment."
- Jim, to Michelle, "American Wedding"
"Marriage is a neverending,
permanent... chaining of two people. Jim, have you thought this through?"
- Finch, "American Wedding"
"Step away from the
- Jim's Dad, to Jim, "American Wedding"
"Wow, Steve Stifler
just gave a rose to a girl and meant it. It's like, monkeys learning to
use tools for the first time."
- Michelle, "American Wedding"
"McLovin? What kind
of a stupid name is that, Fogell? What, are you trying to be an Irish R&B
- Seth, checking out Fogell's fake ID, "Superbad"
"You know when you
hear girls say 'Ah man, I was so s**t-faced last night, I shouldn't have
f****d that guy?' We could be that mistake!"
- Seth, outlining his strategy to Evan, "Superbad"
"Yeah McLovin, how
is it going with the ladies?"
"It's not the 'going' I'm worried about... but the 'coming'."
Officer Michaels and Fogell\McLovin, "Superbad"
"Mixed company here.
Hello, I'm a girl!"
"No you're not. You're a really cool guy with long hair."
- Scotty, missing something obvious about Jenny, "Eurotrip"
"There's your R-rating
- Cooper, walking in on the skinny dipping scene, "Eurotrip"
"Wow! You guys have
got a completely different level of swearing over here."
- Cooper, getting to know some Manchester United fans, "Eurotrip"
"Scotty doesn't know;
Scotty doesn't know — I can't believe he's so trusting."
- The "Scotty Song", from "Eurotrip"
"Felix, don't even
think about it. I can hear your brain planning a party."
"...he is in dire need of a party."
- Berke and Felix, "Get Over It"
"Why do we all have
"Because! In cheerleading we throw people into the air. And fat people don't go very high."
- Courtney and Sparky, "Bring It On"
"That's all right.
That's OK. You're gonna pump our gas someday."
- The Toros Squad retort, "Bring It On"
"Don't play dumb. We're
better at it then you."
- Whitney, "Bring It On"
"Our next defeat is
scheduled for next Tuesday."
- Announcer, "Bring It On"
"You know, mothers
have killed to get their daughters on squads."
"That mother didn't kill anybody. She hired a hit man."
- Torrance & Christine Shipman, "Bring It On"
"People cheer for cheerleaders?"
- Cliff Pantone, getting recursive, "Bring It On"
"I delivered a baby
to a fifteen-year-old girl today, and you know what she said to me?"
"I'm a crack-whore who should have forced my skeezy boyfriend to wear a condom?"
"Close, she said 'I should have listened to my father'."
"No she didn't."
"Well, she would have if she wasn't too doped up to talk."
- The Stratford Family, "10 Things I Hate About You"
"Like, I know you can
be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever be just ...
"I think you can in Europe."
- Chastity and Bianca, "10 Things I Hate About You"
"I hate the way you
talk to me, and the way you cut your hair.
I hate the way you drive my car - I hate it when you stare.
I hate your big dumb combat boots, and the way you read my mind.
I hate you so much it makes me sick - It even makes me rhyme.
I hate the way you're always right - I hate it when you lie.
I hate it when you make me laugh, even worse when you make me cry.
I hate it that you're not around, and the fact that you didn't call.
But mostly I hate the way I don't hate you
Not even close, not even a little bit, not any at all."
"What are you doing
here? I am supposed to be the only black guy at this party."
- Malik and the other 'Token' Black Guy, "Not Another Teen Movie"
"Omigod! I can't believe
she's wearing the same outfit as me!"
- Two girls with matching 'birthday suits', "Not Another Teen Movie"
just got you first slow motion entrane."
- Katherine, as the not-so-ugly-duckling blossoms, "Not Another Teen Movie"
"I say we make like
a tree and branch out of here."
- Austin, "Not Another Teen Movie"
"I made that bet before
I knew you, before I really knew who I was."
- Jake Wyler, obviously a fan of "She's All That", in "Not Another Teen Movie"
kicks the s**t out of David. It's just nobody bothers to tell that story."
- Henry, "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton"
"It's like Winston
Churchill once said, 'All our past lives have been but a preparation for
this hour and this trial'."
- Morris 'Mud' Himmel, inspiring the residents of "Camp Nowhere" to an even greater scam
"You know, if you were
wearing a skirt right now, I'd be in heaven."
- Zack, "Camp Nowhere"
"What do you think
would happen if I gave you a kiss right now?"
"I think our parents would die."
- Ben (who's Jewish) and Sylvia (who's black), graduating in 1954 Baltimore, "Liberty Heights"
"Life is made up of
a few big moments, and a lot of little ones. I still remember the first
time I kissed Sylvia, or the last time I hugged my father before he died.
And I still remember that white-bread sandwich and that blonde dancing
girl with the cigarette pack on her thigh. But a lot of images fade, and
no matter how hard I try, I can't get them back. I had a relative once
who said that if I knew things would no longer be, I would have tried to
- Ben Kurtzman, "Liberty Heights"
"We're like the Lost
Boys in 'Peter Pan,' except we're girls — lost and delirious."
- Tori, welcoming Mouse to boarding school, "Lost and Delirious"
"At first I thought
they were practicising for boys..."
- Mouse, catching Tori and Paulie unawares, "Lost and Delirious"
"What's your name?"
"Well, it's... it's in transition."
- Joe and Mouse\Mary B, "Lost and Delirious"
"In her eyes, that
brightness, like my fake mother — the brightness when she lies."
- Paulie, watching Tori get ready for a date, "Lost and Delirious"
"The side effects of
education should not be boredom and mediocrity."
- Holden, "Kids in America"
"To be or not to be.
That is the question... No, no. No, that isn't the question. The question
is whether to question, whether to take up arms against a sea of adults
who urge you to close your eyes and 'trust us'."
- Holden, "Kids in America"
"You can't judge a
book by its cover."
"What does my cover look like?"
"Sweet and innocent."
"You picked up the wrong book."
- Holden and Charlotte, "Kids in America"
"Omigod I hate drug
- Katie, "Kids in America"
"Most of the boys in
school looked like NASA employees. Not Patrick."
- Mary, noticing the new guy, "Saved!"
"In the regular world,
Halloween is when children dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In Girl
World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total
slut and no other girls can say anything about it."
- Cady, "Mean Girls"
I had never felt this
feeling before. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears. My stomach felt like
going to fall out my butt. I had this lump in my throat like after you dry-swallow a big pill.
- Cady, experiencing social embarassment, "Mean Girls"
"I can't do this —
Ms. Norbury, You're a successful, intelligent, caring, graceful woman."
"There has to be something you can say to these young ladies. Something to help them with their self-esteem?"
- Principal Duvall to Ms Norbury, "Mean Girls"
"You all have got to
stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it OK for guys
to call you sluts and whores."
- Ms Norbury, to the girls in "Mean Girls"
That's when I realized
— making fun of Caroline Krafft wouldn't stop her from beating me in this
contest. Calling somebody else fat won't make you any skinnier. Calling
someone stupid doesn't make you any smarter.
- Cady, with the message of "Mean Girls"
"Adults find it funny.
They are the ones who are laughing. Young girls watch it like a reality
show. It's much too close to their real experiences so they are not exactly
- Tina Fey, writer of "Mean Girls"
"Hey you, where you
"Yeah you. I know where I live."
"What's your name?"
"Yeah you. I know my name."
"Yeah what is it?"
"I'm Angel. Don't let the name fool you."
- Angel meets Randy, "Little Darlings"
# SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL
Keith Nelson: I'm sorry.
I'm sorry I was so hard on you.
Watts: Me too.
Keith Nelson: You always hurt the ones you love.
Watts: So when are you going to beat the shit out of Amanda Jones?
Girl: I've just never
seen a girl wearing boys underpants before.
Watts: Have you ever seen a girl with a drumstick shoved up her nose?
Girl: Oh, is that some kind of a threat?
Watts: It's some kind of a warning.
Keith: Yeah, well I like art, I work in a gas station, my best friend is a tomboy. These things don't fly too well in the American high school.
Cher: Until mankind is peaceful enough not to have violence on the news, there's no point in taking it out of shows that need it for entertainment value!
Heather: It's just
like Hamlet said, "To thine own self be true."
Cher: Hamlet didn't say that.
Heather: I think I remember Hamlet accurately.
Cher: Well, I remember Mel Gibson accurately, and he didn't say that. That Polonius guy did.
Cher: Would you say
Dionne: No, not to your face.
Murray: Woman, lend
me fi' dollas.
Dionne: Murray, I have asked you repeatedly not to call me "woman".
Murray: Excuse me, "Ms. Dionne".
Dionne: Thank you.
Murray: My street slang is an increasingly valid form of expression. Most of the feminine pronouns do have mocking, but not necessarily in misogynistic undertones.
Josh: Hey, James Bond, in America we drive on the right side of the road.
Mel: Anything happens to my daughter, I got a .45 and a shovel, I doubt anybody would miss you.
You wanted to be a member of the most powerful cliche in school. If I wasn't already the head of it, I'd want the same thing.
My parents wanted to move me into high school out of the sixth grade, but we decided to chuck the idea because I'd have trouble making friends, blah, blah, blah. Now blah, blah, blah is all I ever do. I use my great IQ to decide what color lip gloss to wear and how to hit three keggers before curfew.
Whether to kill yourself or not is one of the most important decisions a teenager can make
I prayed for the death of Heather Chandler many times, and I felt bad every time I did it, but I kept doing it anyway. Now I know you understood everything. Praise Jesus. Hallelujah.
Veronica: If everyone
jumped off a bridge, would you?
Veronica Sawyer: This
may seem like a really stupid question...
Jason Dean: There *are* no stupid questions.
Veronica Sawyer: You inherit 5 million dollars the same day aliens land on the earth and say they will blow it up in 2 days. What do you do?
Jason Dean: That's the stupidest question I've ever heard.
Heather Duke: Veronica,
you look like hell.
Veronica: Thanks, I just got back.
Jason : Wanna go out
tonight? Catch a movie? Miniature golf?
Veronica : I was thinking more along the lines of slitting Heather Duke's wrists open, making it look like suicide.
Jason : Ah, now you're talking. I can be up for that. I've already started underlining meaningful passages in her copy of Moby Dick, if you know what I mean?
Veronica: You might
think what I've done is shocking -
Jason: Yeah. Umm.. to me, though, suicide is the natural answer to the myriad of problems life has given me.
Veronica: That's good, but Heather would never use the word "myriad".
Jason: This is the last thing she'll ever write - she's gonna want to cash in on as many fifty cent words as possible.
Veronica: Yeah, but she missed "myriad" on the vocab test two weeks ago.
Jason: That only proves my point more. The word is a badge for her failures at school.
Veronica: Oh. Okay, you're probably right. Umm.. people think that just because you're beautiful and popular, life is easy and fun. No one understood, I had feelings too.
Jason: I die knowing no one knew the real me.
Veronica: That's good...have you done this before?
Veronica: Ram and I
died the day we realized we could never reveal our forbidden love to an
uncaring and ununderstanding world. The joy we shared in each others arms
was greater than any touch down, yet we were forced to live the lives of
sexist, beer guzzling jock assholes.
Jason: It's perfect. Let's take a look at some the homosexual artifacts I dug up to plant at the scene. Alright. An issue of Stud Puppie.
Jason: Candy dish. Joan Crawford postcard. Let's see... Some mascara. Alright. Here's the one perfecto thing I picked up. Mineral water.
Veronica: Oh, come on, a lot of people drink mineral water....
Jason: Yes, but this is Ohio. I mean, if you don't have a brewski in your hand you might as well be wearing a dress.
"Hey, that's Kurt Kelly!"
"And the linebacker Ram Sweeney."
"My god, suicide. Why?"
"Does this answer your question?" [shows him the bottle of mineral water]
"Oh man, they were fags!"
"We're in our own world
here... Brick is to high school what Gotham City is to New York. It's not
about how high school *was*. It's about how high school *felt*."
- Director Rian Johnson, from the DVD Commentary
"High school is portrayed
as a world that's inherently less serious that the adult world and from
an adult perspective that's exactly what it is. It's silly — who eats lunch
with who... it's a silly world that's going to go away in a few years.
But when you are a teenager, you're in that world. You don't have that
perspective. In a subjective way, it's the most serious time of your life.
Your head is completely encased in that fishbowl. It is life or death,
these small things, because it's your entire field of vision."
- Director Rian Johnson, from the DVD Commentary
"Throw one at me if
you want, hash head. I've got all five senses and I slept last night, that
puts me six up on the lot of you."
- Brendan, to Dode's gang
"There's a thesaurus in the library. Yeah is under 'Y'. Go ahead, I'll wait."
- Brad Beamish and Brendan
"Still picking your
teeth with freshmen?"
"Well, you were a freshman once."
- Brendan and Kara
"You better be sure
you wanna know what you wanna know."
- Kara to Brendan
"You've helped this
office out before."
"No, I gave you Jerr to see him eaten, not to see you fed."
- Brendan and the Assistant VP
"I won't pin you for
anything you ain't caught at."
- Asst. Vice Principal to Brendan
"Why are you telling
me all this? What's your play?"
"You think nobody sees you. Eating lunch behind the portables. Loving some girl like she's all there is, anywhere, to you. I've always seen you. Or maybe I liked Emily. Maybe I see what you're trying to do for her, trying to help her, and I don't know anybody who would do that for me."
- Brendan and Laura
"I can't trust you,
you ought to be smart enough to know that."
- Brendan to Laura
"You trust me now?"
"Less than when I didn't trust you before."
- Laura and Brendan
"Why don't we take
you upstairs? Back with the living."
- The Pin to Brendan
"You set that up! You
held Dode like a card 'till you could play him."
- Brendan to Kara
# GHOST WORLD
Rebecca: "I thought
Chipmunk-face was never going to shut up."
Enid: "I know, I liked her better when she was an alcoholic crack addict! She gets in one car wreck and all of a sudden she's Little Miss Perfect and everybody loves her."
Enid: "Is Stacy Himmler
going out with Rod Harbaugh."
Rebecca: "Oh, God. How perfect."
Enid: "He better watch out or he'll get AIDS when he date-rapes her."
Enid: "If he's so weird, why is he wearing Nikes?"
Enid (seeing Seymour):
"Oh my god. It's him. He's insane."
Rebecca: "We should follow him home."
Rebecca: "You actually
like that guy?"
Enid: "I don't know, I kind of like him. He's the exact opposite of everything I really hate. In a way, he's such a clueless dork, he's almost kind of cool."
Rebecca: "That guy is many things, but he's definitely not cool."
Enid: "We need to find
a place where you can go to meet women who share your interests."
Seymour: "Maybe I don't want to meet someone who shares my interests. I hate my interests. You think it's healthy to obsessively collect things? You can't relate to other people, so you fill your life with stuff... I'm just like all these other collector losers."
Seymour: "I can't relate to 99% of humanity."
Enid (to Seymour): "I guess I just can't stand the idea of a world where a guy like you can't get a date."
Enid: "I think only
stupid people have good relationships."
Seymour: "That's the spirit."
Cinema Customer: "Do
you serve beer or any alcohol?"
Enid: "I wish. Actually you wish... after about five minutes of this movie, you're gonna wish you had ten beers."
[Looking at the racist
logo of Cook's Chicken, formerly Coon's Chicken]
Enid: "So, I don't get it. Are you saying things were better then, even though there was stuff like this?"
Seymour: "I suppose things are better now, but... I don't know. People still hate each other, they just know how to hide it better."
Sidewinder Boss: "Hey.
Hey. How many times do I have to tell you? No shirt, no service. Get the
hell out of my store. What do you think this is, Club Med?"
Doug: "It's called America, dude. Learn the rules."
Sidewinder Boss: "Learn the rules?" No, *you* learn the rules. We Greeks invented democracy."
Doug: "You also invented homos."
# GREGORY'S GIRL (1980)
[ 10 year old boy knocks on door in rundown Scottish estate, 16 year old Gregory answers door ]
B : "I wonder if Maddy's
G : "You mean Madeline - she's out with her mother."
B : "Thats a shame. I thought we could go for a walk. Maybe I could wait?"
G : "Nah, they'll be ages"
B : "Maybe she could phone me later on, she has my number"
G : "Who are you anyway, yuo're talking about my sister, and she doesnt go for walks with anybody. Whats the idea, coming to people's doors, seducing people's 10 year old sisters? Act your age, go out and break some windows, demolish some phone boxes. See when I was your age son..."
B : "Whats wrong with you, eh?"
G : "There's nothing wrong with me son. You're the one who should be worried, seducing children, you're a freak. You're heading for big trouble, underage walks, dates, you'll run out of vices before 12 if you don't slow down. Go on, get lost! "
You're a part time
lover and a full time friend...
Here is the church and here is the steeple;
We sure are cute for two ugly people;
I don't see what anyone can see in anyone else — but you.
- Kimya Dawson, "Anyone Else But You"
"You should try Adderall."
"No, thanks. I'm off pills."
"Wise move. I know this girl who had a huge crazy freakout because she took too many behavioral meds at once. She took off all her clothes and jumped into the fountain at Ridgedale Mall and she was like, ‘Blaaaaah! I'm a kraken from the sea!’"
"I heard that was you."
- Juno and Su Chin, outside the clinic
"Can't we just like
kick this old school. You know, like I stick the baby in a basket, send
it your way, like Moses and the reeds?"
"Technically that would be Old Testament."
- Juno and Mark, discussing adoption
"Your parents are probably
wondering where you are."
"Nah... I mean, I'm already pregnant, so what other kind of shenanigans could I get into?"
- Vanessa and Juno
"Yeah, I'm a legend.
You know, they call me the cautionary whale."
- Juno, on her school 'rep'
"Dad... Either I just
wet my pants... or... Thundercats are GO!"
- Juno to Mac MacGuff
"Someday you'll be
back here on your own terms."
- Mac to Juno, in the maternity ward
"You're, like, the
coolest person I've ever met, and you don't even have to try, you know..."
"I try really hard, actually."
- Juno and Paulie
# A HORROR MOVIE CHARACTER'S SURVIVAL GUIDE
As a general rule, don't solve puzzles that open portals to Hell.
If the gang plans a fun midnight party in the town's old abandoned mansion, don't tag along. Especially don't tag along if everyone's going as couples, except you're the odd guy/gal out. And if you're the gang's jokester, you may as well write up your last will and testament while you're driving with them to the place.
If you walk into the local abandoned-looking church to seek help or shelter, and you notice that the crucifix is mounted upside down, turn around and go back outside as quietly as possible.
People arriving to rescue you generally get ambushed by the monster, so don't rely on them as your only means of escape. In fact, expect to be surprised and delayed by encountering their flayed corpse at some point.
If you realize that the people in your town/county are having their minds taken over by some strange force, alien or otherwise: DO NOT call the police as they are A) either already taken over themselves and will turn you in or B) will not believe you, and laugh at you.
While in a horror film, never bathe, especially when in the house alone.
If you have defeated the monster, pay close attention to the camera; if it pans away for no apparent reason at all, get the heck out of there.
If you're not a main character, suicide is a quicker and easier way out.
If you are a child, don't panic! Monsters only attack overly horny teenagers. Children can NOT be killed in a movie, only possessed or absorbed. So cheer up!
When you fight a monster use fire, electricity or acid whenever possible. Preferably use all of the above. And an atom bomb.
People do very, very
dumb things in horror movies so we don't feel so much guilt about their
bloody deaths. There is no excudse for anyone who gets killed by a chainsaw-wiedlding
homicidal redneck. We've all seen the movies, so we all know the warning
signs. If you do end up going to the morgue in a bucket, well, It's Your
Own Fault. Hollywood's done all it can.
All babysitters should be forced, by law, to take a course in Hollywood Horror 101 before being garnted a licence to look after our young, defenceless little tykes. Here are some helpful hints: Never, ever look cute when you go babysitting. Always check that the house you're babysitting in wasn't the location of an ancient, unsolved gruesome murder. Finally, sensible shoes, people.
- Paul Byrne, "Babysitting: A Survivor's Guide, "Evening Herald"
# ROZ KAVENEY
The below quotes are taken from "Teen Dreams: Reading Teen Film and Television from Heathers to Veronica Mars" by British author Roz Kaveney.
For large parts of the developed world, and much of the rest of it, American provides, through the lens of Hollywood, significant parts of the vocabulary of our dreams. This is one of the reasons why America is so loved and so deeply hated — people who have never visited it, and who do not speak its language, nonetheless walk its streets and ride its plains at night... Through films and television, and most especially through the teen genre of the last two decades, many of us are acquainted with an adolescence that has nothing in common with anything we actually experienced... They watch American football from bleachers, with illuminated scoreboards and scantily-clad cheerleaders jumping up and down and chanting their hearts out. They go to homecoming, or their senior prom, looking oddly dignified in tuxedos and evening dress; they sign each others' yearbooks and endlessly vote for each other to be Student Body President, or Homecoming Queen, or Person Most Likely to Succeed. They inhabit an entire sequence of ritual years which has little or norhing to do with the lives of anyone outside the USA. Yet sometimes it seems as real to us as our own lives of GCSEs, UCAS forms and Sixth Form Common Rooms... Our imaginations have been colonized.
The subject of this book is the movie and television genre that deals with the lives of American teenagers and most especially with their interactions in and around high school. Many of the best films in which teenagers appear are not part of this genre, which, I would argue, has, in the form in which it currently exists, a specific time and place and origin. It also has a specific racial mix, a specific set of class biases and a very interesting take on gender and sexuality... I am describing a body of work which in large part a creative response to the 1980s John Hughes films and to a lesser extent other films that appeared at roughly the same time (e.g. Fast Times at Ridgemont High)... The Hughes films created or crystallized many stock expectations and character types that we find in the canonical work of the teen genre over the ensuing two decades. The Hughes films all take place in Illinois suburbs and this suburbia became one of the standard expectations; they have a tendency to favour outsiders and underdogs, and so this became a standard expectation, even where it's one that is often subverted through revisionist approaches. Other films within the same time frame — the early John Cusack vehicles for example — are not as important because they left less in the way of direct progency. The Hughes films may not have been the best of their time, but they were the fittest, in a Darwinian sense, not least because they were the films which sparked response in the form of better, later films like Heathers.
There are some very significant films from the 1950s and later which deal with the lives of teenagers and with which teenagers identified, and which to some extent form a part of the folk memory of what it is to be a teenager in both the USA and outside it. Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without A Cause (1955) produced in James Dean an icon of doomed youth that will probably last as long as the movies so, and will always be echoed whenever pretty young people slick down their hair, wear a leather jacket and pout a bit. Bad boys from JD in Heathers to the vampires Spike and Angel in the television show Buffy The Vampire Slayer... Rebel Without A Cause, like many other serious films with teenagers in them, is a film that considers teenagers as a social problem to be understood and solved, rather than the teen years as a transitory phenomenon to be enjoyed and celebrated... They were not so much for teenagers as in favour of them.
One of the shared and defining aspects of genre teen films and television programs is a free-flowing atmosphere of sexual chemistry, much of it having to do with same-sex interactions that do not as a rule involved actual sexual activity, but clearly involved a level of romantic and sometimes erotic emotion that is not adequately described by terms like homo-sociality and bonding.
Any discussion of the
teen movie has to pay proper attention to the films of John Hughes and
most especially to The Breakfast Club. A favourite film of most
of those who experienced it as teenagers, The
Breakfast Club is at least as influential as Heathers on every teen film that follows it, and is in many respects the film to which Heathers is a retort... The teen romantic comedies Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful (1987) are at least important enough to have created some much parodied
and imitated clichés. The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and the more problematic Sixteen Candles (1984) made Molly Ringwald an iconic enough representative of young love that her appearance as a grumpy thirty-something cynic in the deeply uneven Not Another Teen Movie is almost funny in itself and in the absence of actual funny lines... Hughes has compared Ringwald to the leggy tomboyish redheads in Norman Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post paintings of the small-town American dream and this is clearly what she signifies for him.
Much of what followed him in the genre has been considerably more sophisticated but all of it built on his achievements, if only, as with Heathers, by radically dissenting from their style and morality. The mere fact that films consciously imitated him, or consciously subverted tropes that he established, is crucial to the existence of teen films as a genre rather than merely a marketing niche. After Hughes, teen movies would always be knowing, had lost that blandness of affect, and lack of recursiveness and reference, which is often termed innocence.
The film belongs in a category of closed-community dramas which explore the tensions of personal interactions and describe a specific sub-culture or place – though they are rather more important films, Twelve Angry Men (1957) and Black Narcissus (1947) are equally artificial, equally stagy.
We know the sort of film this is, almost from the beginning. It will be an ensemble piece, something like an opera, in which each character, pair of characters or group of characters will sooner or later express their inner feelings, show off their public selves or enter into clashes and reconciliations. It is almost inevitable, given that the film’s exposition establishes the differences between the five principal young characters, that the film’s resolution will reconcile them and that much of its action will be devoted to the dialectical personal clashes whereby this reconciliation will be achieved. Hughes’ originality here is primarily that he took this sort of schematic structure and applied it to contemporary American teenagers and their problems; it is also impressive that he did this without using adaptation of some previous text as a fallback skeletal structure.
Each of the characters is at once an individual and a type and the reasons they are in detention are equally a combination of the quirky and the stereotypical. Claire (Hughes’ favourite young actress, Molly Ringwald) is a ‘princess’ spoiled by her father with presents like the diamond earrings she is wearing — she has been given detention because she skipped out of class to go shopping. She is a virgin, a fact that she reveals at one of the film’s many slightly synthetic climaxes; virginity is less a statement here
about morality or personal integrity as it is about a failure yet to engage with life.
Severl of Hughes's six films bring a greater awareness of class to the teen movie — it is significant in The Breakfast Club and a prime motivator in Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful. If it is a version of class awarenes that owes more to Frank Capra than to Karl Marx, that is what one would expect.
"The high school film
to end high school films."
- Daniel Waters, describing Heathers
Heathers is a long way from being the first — or even the first good — teen movie, though it was and remains one of the genre's highpoints and the genre's bext example of a thick text. It is complex and intelligent both in its own right and as a response to earlier films both inside the teen genre and outside it; it was also a highly fertile influence. It set much of the agenda for the teen, and most especially of the high school, films of the next decade and a half.
The mark that Heathers left most firmly established as a trope of the teen genre in movies and television was the theme of the snobbish social elite that the heroine wishes to be part of and then grows out of. Often this elite is identified with cheerleading, in a culture that values beauty and athleticism over brains — and with intrigues to become homecoming or prom queen. Part of the originality of Bring It On is that it sees a school's cheerleaders in a largely positive light as a group of people motivated by the desire to be good at what they do rather than a desire to rule the roost.
What both Saved! and Mean Girls demonstrate is that the principal contribution of Heathers to the teen genre has been a set of very effective comedy gestures rather than its deeply subervsie spirit.
Told by a teacher in
that he has the most demerits for lateness of anyone in the class, Travis
gives a charming acceptance speech parodying the standard tropes of Oscar
"I would like to say this. Tardiness is not something you can do on your own. Many, many people contributed to my tardiness. I would like to thank my parents for never giving me a ride to school, the LA city bus driver who took a chance on an unknown kid and last but not least least, the wonderful crew at McDonalds who spend hours making those egg McMuffins without which I'd never be tardy."
Amy Heckerling has learned from both Jane Austen and her own earlier work on Fast Times at Ridgemont High that convincingly imagined worlds are those in which more characters than the central ones say interesting things, Clueless works because it is not just about its heroine, but about her world.
10 Things I Hate About You achieves the interesting feat not only of transferring The Taming of the Shrew to an American High School and its senior year rituals, but of replacing most of its misogyny with a sympathetic view of the principal heroine's feminism in the process... Inventively, it manages to find equivalents not only for Bianca's suitors and Petruchio's roughness, but for such other features of the play as Baptista's insistence that Katarina wed before her sister and a Renaissance attitude to virginity.
Perhaps the very best of the teen films which adapt literary classics in Cruel Intentions, which is an adaptation of the often filmed Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos — in the credits, it is described as 'suggested by'... There are advantages to this decision to remake this novel as a teen movie. For one thing, the genre conventions of the teen film make social ostracism a plausible fear on the part of the protagonists... The social ostracism that is Kathryn's fate at the end of the film is plausible in a school context — as it was in the aristocratic society of the 18th century for her equivalent, Madame de Meurteuil, in the original — and nowhere else in modern society. Only in a teen context is the obsession with virginity a live issue in the late 20th and early 21st centuries... The film is one of the few — Saved! is another — and certainly the earliest to pick up on the religious campaign in favour of abstinence as a counter to teen pregnancy and disease.
Any account of the teen films in the 1990s and 2000s has to take on board what happened to the teen sex comedy in those decades. The generation that came of age then, and started making films, had a more complex attitude to masculinity and male sexuality than the generation which preceded it. Though it is very easy to see American Pie and its two successors as lineal descendant's of Porky's, they are far more complex films. A default bawdiness that relies on jokes about bodily fluids and physical functions is constantly undercut by some (comparitively) rather more radical thinking about what this sort of thing means in a age of at least theoretical gender equality... This thoughfulness is partly a matter of the educational backgrounds of later film-makers and partly a function of the greater thoughtfulness that was one of the things that John Hughes and the makers of Heathers brough to the teen movie. It also was a function of the desire to make these films to some degree 'date' films, so that adolescent girls and women in the audience would not feel themselves insulted to the point of alienation by the sexual humour.
There is a fundamental
paradox to all three of the American Pie movies, and it is this:
They are films which portray the coming of age of a group of young American
men in terms of their full acceptance of the sensual and sexual equality
of their partners. This coming of age takes the shape of their various
explorations of behaviour, much of it thoughtless or otherwise negative.
They are comically punished for each and every one of their experiments
which can be seen in a negative, sexist light, including their failure
to understand that the girls and women in their lives are at least as much
sexual beings as they are. And yet the comedy which derives from those
punishments is aimed very precisely at a section of the movie audience
most interested in the physical comedy and farce than in its ethical component,
the younger equivalent of the movie audience which liked earlier teen sex
comedies, like the Porky's trilogy, which had no ethical concerns
One of the reasons we enjoy as comic the humilations heaped on Jim and the others is that they are deserved consequences of thoughtless humilation of the women they are involved with... Jim's discovery that his humiliation (with Nadia) has been broadcast to the world, and is quite specifically known to just about every women he might have hoped to ask to the prom, is entirely appropriate. He has treated Nadia as the subject of sexual objectification and discovers that he too is the victim of the pornographic gaze... Nothing too dreadful happens to Jim in the third film: he is caught having oral sex and his shaved public hair ruins a wedding cake. One writes this sentence and realizes how these films redefine one's sense of "nothing too dreadful" so as to naturalize extreme sexual embarassment as standard.
The popularity of the American Pie sequence says something quite unsettling about the attitudes of their target audience to sex, gender and sexual etiquette. They are neither wholly sexist — though often straying wholeheartedly into offensive terrority — nor more than marginally progressive — though having a cheerfully sex-positive attitude that is often rather delightful and sometimes genuinely subversive. At their best they have the honest vulgarity of the old British seaside postcards of Donald McGill; at their worst they are genuinely unpleasant in their sadistic humiliation of the films' comic butts... Mismatch between the American Pie trilogy's tastelessness and its thoughfulness, between its sentimentality and its intermittent gross sexism.
The American Pie films present a universe in which there is a right person for everybody.
The debt of Veronica
Mars to many of the films discussed in the course of this book is clear.
Rob Thomas has used the detective story structure to create a vast psychological
investigation in which quite simple 'truths' are write large. Where Buffy,
in its classic first three seasons, used horror tropes to examine the simple
truth that school life and adolescence are a nightmare, and in its sixth
seasons turned this assumption on its head by arguing that reaching adulthood
is being cast out of heaven, Veronica Mars uses detective tropes
to point out the truth of who you are and how you got to be that person
is at once a necessary discovery and a painful one.
In Veronica's endless invention of complex ploys, and her constant outwitting of the school authorities, and the growing sense around Neptune High that she is a competent individual to be feared and admired, she has much in common with Ferris Bueller, whose taste for anarchy is also a constant temptation to her.
The relationship between Logan and Veronica is precisely what would not normally happen in a teen movie where he would almost always remain an unregenerate villain, or go out with her on a date or bet... First the audience and then Veronica find, as the episodes unfold, that Logan is a more complex character than he at first seems.
Teenage Americans watch
movies about themselves to make sense of their lives, to be reassured that
the pangs of adolescence are a universal truth, not a personal wound. For
them, to be told that sometimes bullies lose, that school principals are
sometimes fallible or humiliated, that sometimes true love wins, is a necessary
balm and encouragement to struggle. Above all they need to be told that
nothing is forever and that there are second chances to get things right,
that one day we will look back on these things and laugh.
For the rest of is, the teen genre means something else, and yet the same... The teen genre is a stylized way of looking at the world which connects to that world but dresses it in artificial light. When youth is gone, we still need to connect to its hope through art. We still need Teen Dreams.
The introduction to the book is available online at the website of published I.B. Tauris
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