5 Best Coming of Age Movies

Photo: Hulton Archive (Getty Images)

Nothing depicts life’s struggles and the pains of growing up as the coming of age movies, especially when they’re done right. Although they can be big budget films, they’re usually just small, independent flicks that focus on one important period in life and offer something relatable. This genre of movies usually can’t be described either as comedies, dramas or anything else. Just like real life – it’s always a combination of laughs, cries, and everything else that we go through on a daily basis. If this is your type of film, take a look at our selection of some of the best coming of age movies ever.

Superbad

We’ll begin with something light and much more inclined to comedy like the 2007 flick Superbad. The film is about two high-school friends, Seth and Evan, who start questioning their friendship as the year’s end approaches. The main plot involves the two trying hard to obtain drinks for a party where both of their love interests will be, but fail a number of times in hilarious ways. Considering the film was co-written by Seth Rogen, you immediately know what type of comedy you’re in for. There’s a lot of brutally funny moments as well as some genuine drama, mostly thanks to the solid performances of both Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. By the end of the film, both main characters (as well as the third one – Fogell) have transformed, matured, but somehow still remained the same.

Juno

Another comedy/drama coming of age film that you really ought to see is Juno. The movie is about a pregnant teenager by the name of Juno who deals with her situation in her own humorous way. Actually, the entire film relies on the protagonist’s witty attitude and the movie’s sharp script. Ellen Page masterfully brought the character to life as you can see her childish innocence underneath all that weird sense of humor. Besides her, there is the accidental father of the child played by Michael Cera, surprisingly supportive father played by J. K. Simmons, and the seemingly perfect couple looking to adopt the baby portrayed by Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman. Each one of these actors brings something genuine to the film and makes it an overall amazing experience.

Ghost World

Way back in 2001, before Scarlett Johannson became a Hollywood superstar she is today, she appeared in a small, amazing, coming of age movie by the name of Ghost World. Thora Birch and Scarlett play two high-school friends in their last years who plan on moving in together at one point. While Rebecca is more responsible and mindful of the future, Enid is careless and into daydreaming. Both of them spend their time wandering around their little town, causing minor havoc. The main point in the story comes when they jokingly answer a man’s ad looking for a date. Seeing how he is a complete loser, they start making fun of him, but Enid somehow manages to see beyond the physical and fall in love with him, which causes a number of problems. It’s a great and seemingly simple film that gives us a glimpse into the troubles of growing up.

American Beauty

There is a common misconception that the coming of age movies actually have to be about kids of teenagers when, in fact, they can be just about anyone, as long as they depict some form of growth and maturity. American Beauty is one of those classic social dramas that you watch because of the powerful characters and their fates. The plot is usually not as important as the development of each individual character in the film. One of the protagonists in this one that seems to be “coming of age” is the father of the family, Lester Burnham. As he is going through his midlife crisis, he quits his job, starts smoking weed and tries to seduce a friend of his daughter. It’s a great movie that shows how each member of a dysfunctional family changes and matures, in a way, with various consequences.

Pan’s Labyrinth

At the end of our list is the amazing Pan’s Labyrinth. It might be difficult to call this dark fantasy film a coming of age flick, but that’s what it really is. The main character is a little girl by the name of Ofelia. Being in the middle of a brutal civil war in Spain, she escapes into her fantasy where she encounters various terrifying creatures and does their biddings. One of the central supernatural figures that help her find her way in this world is the enormous Faun, a mythical creature with a goat’s head and tree-like body. The movie is both beautiful and terrifying at the same time and shows how a child’s imagination can be corrupted by the horrors of the real world.

This list of the best coming of age movies is just a fragment of all the great movies out there. Write down your favorite in the comment section below.