At a time when hormones are raging and every obstacle seems like it could ruin your entire life, love can feel like life or death, and in movies, it sometimes can be. But teen romance can also be sweeter and more earnest than the romance between grown-ups in movies, and sometimes it’s a little more fun, too. With a new version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ hitting theaters this weekend, we thought we’d take a look back at the best teenage romances in movies. From the comedic to the melodramatic, these are the love stories that warm our hearts, put a smile on our lips, or cover our faces with tears — so many tears.
10 Things I Hate About You
A modernization of William Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew,’ ’10 Things I Hate About You’ is a complicated love story — Julia Stiles and Larisa Oleynik play Kat and Bianca, sisters and total opposites. Kat is more interested in her studies and is already jaded by school boys, while Bianca is naive and eager to date. Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) wants to date Bianca, but she can’t date until Kat does, so he pays Patrick (Heath Ledger — our hearts are still hurting over that loss) to woo Kat.
Through all the drama, betrayal, and wacky shenanigans, these teens come to realize that love can be found in someone you least expect — or, for Kat, someone whom you despise. We love watching Kat slowly realize that Patrick is her perfect match, or impatiently waiting for Bianca to take the blinders off and give Cameron a chance. And we especially love Heath Ledger’s rousing rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” on the bleachers.
‘Dirty Dancing’ is a teen love classic. Jennifer Grey plays Frances “Baby” Houseman, the daughter of a well-to do family on vacation at a fancy resort, where she meets Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze), a bad boy dance instructor — and not the kind of guy her parents want her to end up with. When Baby learns of Johnny and his friends’ after-hours dirty dancing parties, she gets Johnny to teach her some movies… but he ends up teaching her so much more about dignity and respect, both toward others and toward herself. Johnny opens Baby’s eyes to a world beyond her picket fences, and the two fall in love despite what everyone else might think.
Wes Anderson’s ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ tells the story of troubled wild child Suzy and precocious orphan Sam, who run away together and send all the adults in their lives into a frenzy. It’s a lovely coming of age story about first love, and how kids perceive the occurrences in their world as equally consequential as the trials grown-ups have to deal with. Why can’t Suzy and Sam be in love?! Love, drama, and hardship aren’t only applicable to adults. Anderson, inspierd in part by Terrence Malick’s ‘Badlands,’ creates a true love story that seems impossible, but only if you refuse to believe in it.
Way back when Tim Burton and Johnny Depp first began their long working relationship, Depp starred in ‘Edward Scissorhands,’ as the titular character — a lonely teen boy who was created by a brilliant inventor in a castle way up on the hill, overlooking a picturesque suburban town. When his “father” dies, Edward is rescued by an Avon saleswoman, who takes him home and tries to civilize him.
Edward falls in love with her daughter Kim, played by Winona Ryder, and the two form an unlikely relationship, later threatened by her bull-headed jock boyfriend. ‘Edward Scissorhands’ is an uplifting and heartbreaking story of teen romance, and of looking beneath the surface to find a more meaningful connection. Edward not only teaches Kim what it means to open her heart, but he teaches an entire town as well.
Cameron Crowe’s 1989 film ‘Say Anything’ stars John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler, an average teen who just graduated high school along with the intellectual valedictorian Diane (Ione Skye). Lloyd impresses the socially-limited Diane with his undying devotion over the summer leading up to college, when Diane is set to move away to England.
And then there’s that iconic scene, when Lloyd stands outside of Diane’s window with a boombox, blaring Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.” How could she not fall in love with him right then and there?! ‘Say Anything’ doesn’t have your typical happily ever after ending, but it’s definitely a happy one for Lloyd and Diane, who overcome family pressure and trials to experience their first love before entering the grown-up world.
Pretty in Pink
John Hughes and Molly Ringwald gave us some of the best movies of the ’80s. ‘Pretty in Pink’ features Ringwald as a senior high school outcast. Andie is in love with preppy Blane (Andrew McCarthy), and Andie’s best friend Duckie (Jon Cryer) is desperately in love with her. And although Blane likes Andie, his popular friends are total jerks about it, and it’s making him kind of a jerk, too.
‘Pretty in Pink’ is a movie that shows us how love shouldn’t be based on what other people think, and when you find someone special, the rest of the world shouldn’t matter. For Duckie, it’s also about how when you love someone, you should want them to be happy, even if that happiness has nothing to do with you. It’s a sweet, classic movie that, like most of the films on this list, puts an interesting spin on the traditional story of love against all odds — the best kind of love!
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Nick (Michael Cera) is a struggling musician in L.A. whose girlfriend just dumped him. By chance, he runs into Norah (Kat Dennings), the daughter of a music producer — oh, and she happens to be friends with Nick’s ex. In order to avoid the advances of a guy who just wants to use her for her connections, Norah has Nick pretend to be her boyfriend for the evening.
The two bump heads at first, but the longer they’re stuck together, the more they realize they’re sort of perfect for each other. Using the backdrop of the L.A. indie music scene (and with an awesome soundtrack), ‘Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist’ feels legit by having its characters find common ground in sharing the music they love before finding the love they share.
John Hughes and Molly Ringwald make the list again. How could we not include ‘Sixteen Candles’?! This time around, Ringwald plays Sam, a girl whose family has forgotten all about her 16th birthday because her sister is about to get married. Sam has a crush on school jock Jake, who doesn’t seem to know she exists, but when a “sex quiz” she fills out makes its way into Jake’s hands by accident (including the sensitive info that she wants to lose her virginity to him), Jake starts to get a bit curious about this Sam girl.
Sam is one of the best teenage girl characters in movie history: she’s put-upon, ignored by her parents, feels invisible to the one guy she has a crush on, and the guy who has a crush on her is some geeky kid (who she’s actually nice to, as she should be, and ends up being key in her happy ending). ‘Sixteen Candles’ also gives us one of the most romantic teen movie endings, when Jake goes out of his way to find Sam and give her the happy birthday she deserves.
Romeo and Juliet
There have been a few film iterations of William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ but one of the best — and most memorable — is Baz Luhrmann’s version, a visual modernization in which the characters all recite the original Shakesperean dialogue. It’s a brilliant move that allows people to connect on an aesthetic level while staying true to the classic story.
Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio play the star-crossed lovers of warring families, who fall in love at first sight (impossible! But it happens!) and must carry on their tortured relationship in secret. Their love is tragic and reflects impetuous, melodramatic teenage behavior while also respecting the genuine emotions involved. No matter how many times you watch this movie, you’ll always keep your fingers crossed that it ends differently.
Teen love gets even more complicated with the additon of an unplanned pregnancy in ‘Juno.’ Directed by Jason Reitman from a script by Diablo Cody, the film tells the story of young Juno (Ellen Page), who takes the virginity of her BFF Paulie (Michael Cera) and winds up with more than either of them bargained for. When Juno offers her unborn child up for adoption to a seemingly perfect married couple, she learns that there’s no such thing as an ideal relationship, and that sometimes when things fall apart, it’s not the end — but the beginning of something beautiful. Cody’s quirky, teen-speak-heavy dialogue creates a more honest, relatable experience. And can we talk about how perfect this soundtrack is?
Birth Name: Olivia Thirlby
Birth Date: October 6, 1986
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA
Olivia Thirlby landed her first role in Vincent Perez’s The Secret followed by her role as Nicole Miller in Paul Greengrass’ critically acclaimed 9/11 drama, United 93. She has continued to work in film with prominent directors such as Kenneth Lonergan in Margaret and David Gordon Green in Snow Angels.
She was seen in the award-winning, Oscar nominated sensation Juno, directed by Jason Reitman; and Sony Classics The Wackness, directed by Jonathan Levine, which won the Audience Award at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, and the LA International Film Festival. She starred alongside film legends Lauren Bacall and Ben Gazzara in the short film Eve, written and directed by Natalie Portman.
She made her Off-Broadway debut in the Atlantic Theater Company’s production of Farragut North written by Beau Willimon and directed by Doug Hughes, starring alongside John Gallagher, Jr. and Chris Noth. Thirlby was hailed by New York Magazine as “the most magnetic player.” She reprised this role on the west coast opposite, Chris Pine, at the Geffen Playhouse.
Recently, Thirlby’s other work includes, What Goes Up with Steve Coogan, The Answer Man with Jeff Daniels, Uncertainty with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Brett Ratner’s New York, I Love You.
Thirlby was last seen in Paramount’s No Strings Attached opposite Natalie Portman, and next has Dredd with Karl Urban, Focus Features’ Another Bullshit Night In Suck City with Paul Dano and Robert De Niro, and MTV’s animated show “Good Vibes.” She just wrapped Nobody Walks with John Krasinski.
Now playing in limited release is director Jason Reitman’s (Up in the Air) great new movie, Young Adult. Written by Diablo Cody (Juno), the film centers on an alcoholic young adult novelist (Charlize Theron) who ventures back to her hometown in order to pursue her now-married high school boyfriend (Patrick Wilson). Patton Oswalt co-stars as Theron’s former classmate.
You’ve been in Hollywood for a number of years now. What do you think is the big lesson you’ve learned over the last few years, if there is one lesson you could tell aspiring writers?
Cody: Well, to aspiring writers, I would tell them that we live in a wonderful time where you’re able to make your work visible, easily. If you think about it, even ten years ago or twenty years ago, there was a middle man, there was a publisher, there were studios, there was this world of rejection letters. Now, we’re in a place where we have the technology and the ability to go shoot our own movies or to put stuff on YouTube or a blog, if you’re a writer, or self-publish. There are so many things that you can do to get your work out there now that doesn’t require permission or a benefactor or a patron.
I was going to joke about a patron.
Cody: [laughs] Yeah, there used to be gatekeepers and there aren’t as many anymore.
Now what about getting films made. Has anything changed in the last few years? What have you learned in the process of getting a few films made?
Cody: You have to understand that I was starting at a level of zero knowledge, total idiocy. I had no idea of what I was doing. I acted the fool. When I first came here, I didn’t know anything about act structure, I didn’t know anything about politics, I didn’t even know how to talk to people, I didn’t know how to talk to the press. I was just a jester. [laughs] And I still feel that way. But, I mean, what haven’t I learned? Everything that I know is new information because I was starting with nothing.
The one thing I have found about Hollywood is it’s a town full of people who believe in themselves, often to a degree where they’re what you would call “delusional.” “I’m going to do this. I’m going to do that.” And they’re so sure of themselves. You have to remember that those are the people you’re competing with, so you have to be confident and ballsy too, even if that’s not your nature. It isn’t mine; I’m a pessimist by nature. I don’t think things are ever going to work out, I’m not particularly ambitious. But in LA I realized that I kind of have to up my game because I’m surrounded by people who, A) will stop at nothing to get things accomplished and B) genuinely believe that it’s going to work out.
A lot of people talk about the “Golden Period” of writing, whether it be from 9 to 1, 2 to 5, at night… what’s your typical process?
Cody: I can’t write at night. For me, I’m programmed to believe that nighttime is for relaxation. I hear that 5 o’clock whistle in my mind like Fred Flintstone and I have to stop. I’m also not much of a morning writer. I have a sweet spot from about 11am to 4pm. But I really work during that time.
Like no emails, no Twitter, no anything?
Cody: I try to avoid Twitter. I occasionally can’t resist the siren call of email.
A lot of people talk about “writing about what you know” and that’s the best writing. How autobiographical are the things you’ve been writing, from real life moments or people you know, like it’s a caricature of a person, and how does that apply to Young Adult?
Cody: The things that I write are autobiographical in a surreal sense, like when you have a dream and you go to the doctor’s office, but then you turn around and it’s actually your childhood home and the doctor has turned into Ryan Reynolds. You know what I mean? You have these dreams that are about an essential truth in your life, but they’re also just totally garbled and creative and strange. The stuff I write isn’t strictly autobiographical, but it’s personal, if that makes any sense. It draws all these little incidents and people out of my life and then contorts them.
For instance, there’s not one specific person that I base Mavis (Charlize Theron) on or that I base Juno on, but Young Adult is a personal story in a way that it was a reflection, for me, of my darker self. Mavis is a young adult writer; I write about teenagers, or at least have up until this point. Mavis grapples with certain compulsive behaviors; I’ve done the same. I do have certain things in common with her, but I certainly wouldn’t head back to my home town and try to break up a marriage.