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5 Teen Movies You Probably Haven't Seen (and why you should)

I recently saw Hanna, an action movie that came out earlier this year about a 16-year-old assassin. I thought it did a great job of using YA tropes (friendship, boys, identity), plus it's a pretty kick-ass movie.

Hanna wasn't a mega-budget film and wasn't a mega-blockbuster, but there are good performances by Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett (if you can get past her Southern accent). And Saoirse Ronan as Hanna is amazing. (Oh, there's a pretty kick-ass soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers, too.) It's definitely worth renting, streaming, or putting on your Netflix queue if you missed it in theaters.

Here's the trailer for Hanna:

Hanna also got me thinking about some teen-centric movies you may have missed entirely, because I almost did. These are indie movies that didn't have wide distribution and that I stumbled upon, either through recommendations or dumb luck.

The Chumscrubber stars Jamie Bell as a teen in suburbia whose drug-dealing friend commits suicide. The bad boys at school want the friend's stash and think Jamie knows where it is. They kidnap his brother to get him to talk, except they kidnapped the wrong kid. There's an amazing supporting cast of self-absorbed adults portrayed by Glenn Close, Ralph Fiennes, and Allison Janney, to name a few. If you like your comedy extra-dark, then The Chumscrubber is for you.

The Chumscrubber trailer:

Prom Night in Mississippi is a documentary I caught that explores race relations in a modern day Mississippi high school. Actor Morgan Freeman is from the small town of Charleston, Mississippi, and offers to pay for the high school's prom. But what makes this such an jaw-dropping offer is Morgan Freeman will only pay for it if the prom is integrated. This was filmed in 2008 and the school NEVER had an integrated prom. The school takes him up on the offer and the film presents some truly thought-provoking moments.

Prom Night in Mississippi trailer:

Another documentary, Resolved, focuses on the world of high school debating. I did Speech & Debate in high school (mostly Humorous Interpretation and Oratory), and this is a far cry from anything I did. More recently, my brother is a high school debate coach and has cajoled convinced me to judge at debate tournaments. The debates I judged were mostly urban kids, just beginners, and nowhere the level as seen in the documentary. But Resolved does raise compelling questions about how public speaking skills can be related to issues such as race.

Resolved trailer:

The Trotsky is a wonderfully quirky movie about Leon Bronstein, a high school student who believes he's the reincarnation of Communist leader Leon Trotsky. He unionizes the students at his high school, or at least tries to. Incredibly funny with a stellar performance by Jay Baruchel as Leon.

The Trotsky trailer:

The trailer for What Goes Up doesn't do justice to how good this movie is.
It makes it seem like a lightweight '80s throwback movie, which it is so not. It does take place in 1986, and it does star Hilary Duff, but don't let that put you off. The movie's saving grace is Steve Coogan, the British actor/comedian, who plays a newspaper reporter that befriends a group of misfit students. There's real poignancy in this movie and although it's mostly told from the adult's POV, I felt the teen characters were more than just standard Breakfast Club cliches.

What Goes Up trailer:

So pop some popcorn and curl up with a good movie. What teen movies would you recommend?


  1. yup, you're right, I haven't seen any of this. Thanks for this eye opening post I might check Hannah out this weekend. Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. If you like Hanna, I hope you check out some of the other movies. Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Thanks for these. It's good to find good movies that still exist on Netflix!


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