The best movies with child or teenage main characters ever madeby smith-d-c | created - 01 Oct 2010 | updated - 01 Oct 2010 | Public
I'm not crazy about many teen movies today. Kids live in fantasy worlds in high school dreaming of the "big dance" or sit around brooding over vampires. These are some movies where kids sound, behave like, and think like kids.
- Instant Watch Options
- Movies or TV
- IMDb Rating
- In Theaters
- On TV
- Release Year
1. Stand by Me (1986)
R | 89 min | Adventure, Drama
After the death of a friend, a writer recounts a boyhood journey to find the body of a missing boy.
Votes: 319,658 | Gross: $52.29M
A classic. 4 boys go on a journey to find a dead body. All 4 give great performances and have conversations that people at that age have.
2. The 400 Blows (1959)
Not Rated | 99 min | Crime, Drama
A young boy, left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime.
Francois Truffaut's great movie about the pain of growing up. The movie is terrific and the boy gives a first rate performance.
3. A Christmas Story (1983)
PG | 94 min | Comedy, Family
In the 1940s, a young boy named Ralphie attempts to convince his parents, his teacher and Santa that a Red Ryder BB gun really is the perfect Christmas gift.
Votes: 116,616 | Gross: $19.29M
Christmas through a child's perspective. Hilarious, heartfelt, and accurate to a boy's imagination.
4. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
PG-13 | 111 min | Drama
A rebellious young man with a troubled past comes to a new town, finding friends and enemies.
James Dean became the king of cool for 1950's with this movie, but even today the acting by Dean, Natalie Wood, and Sal Mineo are fantastic. The movie is funny, sad, and tragic and contains scenes which look and sound authentic.
5. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Not Rated | 129 min | Crime, Drama
Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his children against prejudice.
Gregory Peck won the oscar but Mary Batham steals the movie from her perspective of racism in the South.
6. The Man in the Moon (1991)
PG-13 | 99 min | Drama, Romance
A coming of age story set in the South of USA when Elvis was King.
Votes: 13,626 | Gross: $2.85M
Reese Witherspoon's debut, wow! A wonderful story of a girl's first love, directed by Robert Mulligan of "To Kill A Mockingbird"
7. The Breakfast Club (1985)
R | 97 min | Comedy, Drama
Five high school students meet in Saturday detention and discover how they have a lot more in common than they thought.
Votes: 300,541 | Gross: $45.88M
There are some cliches but John Hughes has an incredible ear for dialogue and how teenagers talk. All the actors are superb. Long live the Brat Pack!
8. Radio Days (1987)
PG | 88 min | Comedy
A nostalgic look at radio's golden age focusing on one ordinary family and the various performers in the medium.
Votes: 27,684 | Gross: $14.79M
Seth Green is wonderful as the young Woody Allen in this hilarious, touching, and warm family comedy.
9. A Bronx Tale (1993)
R | 121 min | Crime, Drama
A father becomes worried when a local gangster befriends his son in the Bronx in the 1960s.
Votes: 111,625 | Gross: $17.27M
Robert De Niro's great overlooked movie from 1993 has a terrific performance from Francis Capra as the boy choosing between crime and the honest life.
10. East of Eden (1955)
PG | 118 min | Drama
A wilful young man contends against his brother for the attention of their religious father while reconnecting with his estranged mother and falling for his brother's girlfriend.
James Dean's first lead role in a great adaptation of the Steinbeck novel. The movie is a powerful version of a teen's desperate approval of his father.
11. Breaking Away (1979)
PG | 101 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
A small-town boy obsessed with the Italian cycling team vies for the affections of a college girl.
Votes: 19,292 | Gross: $16.42M
The story of bikers in Indiana may not sound interesting but every scene rings true and the acting, including Dennis Quaid and Daniel Stern, is terrific.
12. American Graffiti (1973)
PG | 110 min | Comedy, Drama
A couple of high school grads spend one final night cruising the strip with their buddies before they go off to college.
Votes: 71,747 | Gross: $115.00M
George Lucas made a great movie with future stars, such as Richard Dreyfus and Harrison Ford. The movie is so entertaining and every scene feels like it came from Lucas's childhood.
13. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
PG | 115 min | Family, Sci-Fi
A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home world.
Votes: 321,836 | Gross: $435.11M
Henry Thomas gave one of the best child performance's ever. I won't believe anyone if they said they didn't cry at the climax of the movie. Drew Barrymore also is terrific and poor Robert McNaughton doesn't get enough credit as Michael.
14. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
R | 90 min | Comedy, Drama
A group of Southern California high school students are enjoying their most important subjects: sex, drugs, and rock n' roll.
Votes: 81,278 | Gross: $27.09M
It is possible to make a good movie about slackers. Sean Penn is very funny and Ray Walston makes a great foil. The movie also features realistic characters and performances from Jennifer Jason Leigh and Judge Reinhold.
15. Sixteen Candles (1984)
PG | 93 min | Comedy, Romance
A girl's "sweet" sixteenth birthday becomes anything but special, as she suffers from every embarrassment possible.
Votes: 87,181 | Gross: $23.69M
What can be said about this movie? John Hughes first movie about teenagers captures the sounds, thoughts, and fears of every girl this age. The supporting cast is great and movie is hilarious and sweet.
16. American Pie (1999)
R | 95 min | Comedy
Four teenage boys enter a pact to lose their virginity by prom night.
Votes: 342,567 | Gross: $102.56M
It is also possible to make a good teenage-sex comedy. The characters and the dialogue ring true and the movie is very funny.
17. River's Edge (1986)
R | 99 min | Crime, Drama
A high school slacker commits a shocking act and proceeds to let his friends in on the secret. However, the friends' reaction is almost as ambiguous and perplexing as the crime itself.
Votes: 13,550 | Gross: $4.60M
A great film about coping with the death of a classmate which features a good performance from Keanu Reeves and Crispin Glover.
18. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
PG | 105 min | Drama
Ted Kramer's wife leaves her husband, allowing for a lost bond to be rediscovered between Ted and his son, Billy. But a heated custody battle ensues over the divorced couple's son, deepening the wounds left by the separation.
Votes: 112,535 | Gross: $106.26M
Justin Henry is wonderful as the boy caught between Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep. I have yet to see a better film about divorce.
19. Ordinary People (1980)
R | 124 min | Drama
The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationships among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son.
Votes: 40,197 | Gross: $54.80M
Timothy Hutton gives an outstanding performance in this story of a family coping with child loss. It won the oscar beating Raging Bull, but it's still a very good movie.
20. The Goodbye Girl (1977)
PG | 111 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
After being dumped by her live-in boyfriend, an unemployed dancer and her 10-year-old daughter are reluctantly forced to live with a struggling off-Broadway actor.
Votes: 10,689 | Gross: $102.00M
Quinn Cummings as Marsha Mason's daughter is terrific and gives a great child performance. The writing is funny and romantic, an overlooked gem.