Cool coming-of-age films to watch with your kids

by BabyYumYum
Coming-of-age films are a wonderful way to connect with your tweens and teens.
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Coming-of-age movies are a wonderful way to connect with your tweens and teens. These films blend humour, nostalgia and poignant storytelling.Written by BabyYumYum.

Watching movies is a good bonding experience and can also open the channels and communication for kids’ curiosity and development. Some you may have heard of and watched a hundred times, and some perhaps not. Use your instinct when choosing a film to watch with your kids as some movies may not be suitable for your child, depending on age and maturity.

Here are our favourite coming-of-age movies that you can enjoy watching with your kids: 

Coming-of-age films for tweens (9-12)

  1. Are you there God it’s me Margaret ?

Based on the classic, must-read book by Judy Blume, this is a fantastic film to watch just before or when puberty hits! Think periods, boobs, friendships, boys and all the stuff in-between that’s happening at this precarious age.  

  1. Inside Out

One of the best animated films to come out in recent years, it’s an outstandingly original, heartfelt story about growing up and learning to handle your biggest emotions. Told mostly from the perspective of the personified feelings inside 11-year-old Riley’s mind, it’s about identifying emotions and processing them but it’s very entertaining and kids from 6 + will get it. 

  1. Turning Red

An adventure about a Chinese Canadian teen who unleashes a literal red panda when she starts going through puberty. The panda transformation — which can sometimes be intense is definitely a metaphor for adolescence. My 10-year-old loved it!

  1. Spirited Away

Magnificent movie with scary creatures and a strong heroine. A magical, awe-inspiring, tearful, laughter-filled, heartfelt journey through a land of sweeping fantasy and dreams.

  1. My Girl

Tackles death and relationships when a spirited 11-year-old girl turns to her best friend for support when her widowed dad falls for someone new.

  1. The Parent Trap

Cute, but tackles real themes like dealing with divorce. Identical twins meet for the first time and hatch a scheme to get their parents back together.

  1. You are so not invited to my batmitzvah!

Two best friends let a clueless boy drive a wedge between them. A peek into growing up in the age of social media, girl politics, it’s a pop-preteen dream with a slappin’ soundtrack to boot.

  1. The Karate Kid (original)

Yes, it’s from the 80s, but the themes still hold up. What happens when you are the new kid, don’t fit in and you’re being bullied? Resilience, patience, hard work and inner strength always triumph! Wax on, wax off!

  1. Wonder

An emotional film about August, a boy with facial deformities, entering a mainstream school for the first time. Inspiring messages about kindness and being different.

ALSO READ: Entertaining the kids without breaking the bank 

Coming-of-age films for teens (12-16) 

  1. Mermaids

Starring Cher, an unconventional single mother moves with her two daughters to a small town. The story explores family bonds, relationships, and personal growth during a pivotal time in their lives. More for 14+ kids as it contains sexually-related scenes and drinking but can provide conversation starters.

  1. 13 Going on 30

Maybe being an adult is harder than your child thinks it is…an unpopular schoolgirl makes an unusual wish and wakes up as a 30-year-old… you can imagine the shenanigans..

  1. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

A fun romp about the boy who needs a day off school—romance, family dysfunction, sibling rivalry… your kid will watch it again and again as they be able to relate to the mundanity of school.

  1. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants

A group of girls navigate friendship and how to stay connected over time and distance. A reflection on meaningful and deep friendship that takes effort and understanding.

  1. Coda

Heart-warming and award-winning story about a hearing teen in a deaf family needing to find her own identity and make some hard choices. Wonderful.

  1. Mean girls

Teen girls can be bitchy and don’t we know it.  Queen bees, burn books (don’t get any ideas kid!), jealousy and revenge.. it’s all here, making for good conversation starters with your 12 + teen. 

  1. Eighth Grade

Painfully realistic dramedy about a painfully introverted girl trying to survive her last week of 8th grade. A relatable must-watch.

  1. The Way, Way Back

A rare coming-of-age tale that really rings true, there’s some edgy content but nothing that should leave teens too red-faced if they see it with Mom and Dad.

  1. Dumplin’

It not easy being the plus-size daughter of a beauty queen, but Willowdean aka Dumplin’ protests the standards enforced by beauty contests by signing up for her mother’s pageant and inadvertently starting a movement. A wonderful way to kick-start a conversation about body positivity and a celebration of curves. 

CHECK OUT: The big-hearted Mr Beast 

Coming-of-age films for older Teens (16+)

  • The Breakfast Club

A classic film, it brings together five high school students during Saturday detention. As they spend the day together, they discover they have more in common than they initially thought. The movie explores themes of identity, friendship, and self-discovery but the themes include abuse, and drugs.

  • American Graffiti

Set in California’s central valley in 1962, this film follows a group of teenagers on their final night after high school graduation. They cruise the strip, reflecting on their past and contemplating their future goals. Directed by George Lucas, it captures the essence of youth and transition.

  • Pretty in Pink

A classic romantic comedy, this movie stars Molly Ringwald as a poor girl torn between her childhood sweetheart and a rich but sensitive playboy. The film explores love, social class, and personal choices during adolescence.

  • Sixteen Candles

In this John Hughes film, a girl’s sixteenth birthday turns out to be anything but special. Her family forgets about it, and she faces various embarrassing situations. The movie humorously portrays the challenges of growing up and finding one’s place in the world.

CHECK OUT: What should I watch with the kids on Netflix now?

  • Stand by Me

Based on a Stephen King novella, this coming-of-age adventure follows four friends on a journey to find the body of a missing boy. Directed by Rob Reiner, it beautifully captures the bonds of friendship and the complexities of adolescence.

  • Heavenly Creatures

This intense drama features two teenage girls who share a unique bond. Their parents separate them due to concerns about the intensity of their friendship. The girls’ reaction takes a dark turn, leading to revenge. The film explores loyalty, obsession, and the consequences of youthful emotions..

  • Unpregnant

The film follows a 17-year-old Missouri teen named Veronica who discovers she’s pregnant. Her dreams of attending an Ivy League college and pursuing a career are suddenly at risk. The movie explores themes of friendship, determination, and unexpected challenges.

  • Never Rarely Sometimes Always

This powerful drama features two teenage girls who travel to New York City seeking medical help after an unintended pregnancy. The film portrays their emotional journey and the complexities of their situation.

  • Big Time Adolescence

A suburban teenager navigates life under the influence of his aimless college dropout best friend. It’s a raw exploration of growing up, friendship, and the consequences of bad choices.

  • To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You

The sequel to “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” this romantic comedy continues Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship. When another recipient of her old love letters enters the picture, Lara Jean faces new challenges in her love life.

Reflecting a 1950s America where Jews were kept out of elite prep schools, the 1992 film is one of few touching on the bigotry once pervasive in the educational system. The impact of anti-semitism and bullying is explored.

An obese and lonely boy who is badly bullied hatches a crazy plan to get attention. Expect mature content like mental health and suicidal ideation.

An iconic romance  about Baby who falls in love with her dance instructor. It’s also about becoming an adult, family and other more mature themes like abortion.

A touching, funny, personal, and mature coming-of-age comedy. The complex relationship between a girl and her mother is portrayed realistically but with quirky humour.

An award-winning, heartbreaking , unforgettable film documenting a young black man grappling with his sexuality and his identity while experiencing the everyday challenges of adolescence.   

An excellent story about peer pressure. A troubled teen influences her friend to engage in drugs, sex and petty crime to the chagrin of her mother, putting their relationship to the test.

These movies capture the essence of adolescence, self-discovery, and the complexities of youth. Whether you’re in the mood for drama, comedy, or romance, there’s something here for everyone!

BYY’s movie list is a work in progress so please mail editor@babyyumyum.co.za with your film recommendations.

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