Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Then & Now: Movies That Defined a Generation

There is honestly nothing I love more than nostalgia. If I see a Buzzfeed article reminiscing about 90’s Kids or a quiz begging the burning question of “What Full House Character Are You?” (Michelle, in case you were wondering), chances are I’ll click on it. The same goes for movies of any era. Whether blockbuster or total bust, the movies of each decade offer a time capsule-like glimpse of what life was like. With the 30th anniversary of “The Breakfast Club” detention celebrated last week, I found it fitting to go back and look at some of the most notable movies of previous generations and see how the same themes and trends are still prevalent today. 
*Note: Remakes are not included for I find them utterly sacrilegious. 
The Hierarchal High School Movie: “The Breakfast Club” (1985) and “Mean Girls” (2004)
As long as high school remains one of the more unpleasant rites of passage to adulthood, there will continue to be high school flicks. I think what makes for the perfect teen movie (aside from an amazing cast) is a writer and director who really know their audience, a skill that both John Hughes and Tina Fey mastered. Both films are quotable, iconic, and will likely remain relevant until some sort of utopian high school system emerges. 
Dressed Up Johnny Depp: “Edward Scissorhands” (1990) and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003)
As utterly handsome as Johnny Depp is in his natural state, his ability to completely transform into his characters just about guarantees an instant classic. I was torn between which of his movies to pick, but I figured his most recognizable roles would do. (If you have a spare moment, check out Johnny in “Cry Baby”, you won’t regret it.) 
Disney Domination: “The Little Mermaid” (1989) and “Frozen” (2013)
I couldn’t make this list without including Disney. “The Little Mermaid” defined many of our childhoods and “Frozen” is doing the same to my college career. There’s something about a catchy score and hearty dose of Disney magic that gets me every time (is anyone immune to their charm?). If you are able to sing every line to the main theme of the movie after one viewing, you know Disney’s done their job. Despite what we may realize now in retrospect about princess films, Disney’s leading ladies were the next best role models to the Olsen twins. It doesn’t matter if it’s Ariel, Anna, or Elsa (heck I’ll even throw Ursula into the mix) … I’m game. 
Teen (Wolf) Heartthrobs: “Teen Wolf” (1985) and “Twilight” (2008)
While the “Twilight” franchise isn’t exactly beloved by all, it’s cultural impact is indisputable and moviegoers still swoon over the supernatural. I vividly remember attending the midnight premiere of the first “Twilight” movie for a birthday party and the experience was unusually indescribable. I definitely prefer Michael J. Fox to Taylor Lautner, but to each their own. 
High School Dude Shenanigans: “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986) and “Superbad” (2007)
In both cinema and reality, your senior year of high school is marked by adventures and a severe case of senioritis. “Ferris” and “Superbad” allow us to live vicariously through our protagonists…some more daring than others. Though “Ferris” is a heck of a lot tamer than “Superbad” (more indicative of the times than anything else), these movies capture the joie de vivre that is only found in the final stretch before graduation. But also, Jennifer Grey and Emma Stone. Be still my heart. 
Die-Hard Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fandoms: “Star Wars” (1977) and “Harry Potter” (2001) 
My heart soars when I think of the fan base for these two franchises. With the exception of maybe LOTR fans, I dare you to present more dedicated groups of admirers. Likable and relatable main character? Check. Strong female lead? Check. Odd monsters/aliens/slug-Hutt things? Check. A coming-of-age story to identify with despite being neither a Jedi nor a wizard? Check. Any movie that can inspire theme parks and cosplayers of all ages holds a rightful spot in the Hollywood Hall of Fame. 
Rep Image: Collage of following images


Similar Reads👯‍♀️