8 Coming-of-Age Movies You Need To Watch Right Now

I don’t know about you, but there is something wonderful about watching the transformation from childhood to adulthood on film. It’s been done in so many creative ways. Sometimes awkward af, sometimes completely profound. From navigating the pain or awkwardness of a first crush to dealing with mental illness, here are some coming-of-age films that are totally worth the watch.

1. The Way Way Back

This timeless film follows Duncan, an awkward fourteen-year-old, who is forced to spend the summer at his mom’s horrible boyfriend’s beach house. He slowly (and awkwardly) befriends Owen, who happens to own the local waterpark. From the push of a wild cast of characters who work there, Duncan comes into his own (gaining the iconic nickname Pop ‘n’ Lock in the process). The relationships are beautiful and unconventional and show that it’s not just the kids who have some growing up to do. This one comes highly recommended if you are (like me) antsy for summertime.

2. Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging

This movie premiered on Nickelodeon some years back. It takes place in Britain following Georgia and her three best friends when two cute brothers come into town. Georgia goes through serious measures to catch the attention of the definitively cuter brother (played by Aaron Johnson *swoon*), including purposely losing her cat Angus, awkward-to-watch kissing lessons and using tanning lotion on her legs. Georgia perfectly displays what it’s like to go through the horrendously traumatizing teen years and that first real crush. In the end, she learns that what truly matters is being yourself, a reminder we could all use.

3. The Kings of Summer

The Kings of Summer is my favorite movie, so obviously this one had to make the list. It stars Nick Offerman as the dad of Joe, the main character. (Though he’s rough on his son, he is still his endearing self.) Joe and his best friend, Patrick, are fed up with their parents, so they decide to run away and build a house in the woods. It seems silly, but I promise it’s worth it. Moises Arias (Rico from Hannah Montana!) is the breakout star as Biaggio, the weird but loyal kid who tags along and has the best one-liners of the film. The friendships are complicated when a girl comes into the picture, but in the end, it’s about what really makes a man.

4. Flipped

Ah, another depiction of the first crush. This one is extra sweet, as it's set in the 50s. Julie instantly falls in love with her new neighbor Bryce at around age seven, when he wants absolutely nothing to do with her. Circumstances arise in which they change their minds about each other and have to navigate the changes, both of their “love lives” and of their family lives. It’s a completely endearing story, especially if you’re a fan of the simple beauty of nature and headstrong girls who appreciate it.

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

If you have yet to see this movie, you need to right now. Logan Lerman plays the timid freshman Charlie, who has trouble being accepted at school until he meets a few wild but caring older friends. They invite him into their circle, therefore introducing him to the world of sex, drugs and rock and roll. He battles with depression and trauma from his past at the same time, and his experience shows just how crucial friendships are to feeling supported. This movie is filled with humor but will leave you sobbing at the end, I guarantee it.

6. Aquamarine

Best friends Haley and Claire are completely boy-obsessed with a hunky older lifeguard, but the introduction of a mermaid makes the real importance of the film friendship and adventure. The pursuit of a romantic relationship is certainly still present, but the true measure of love is found in the friendship. For example, Claire is able to get over her fear of water in order to save a friend. She grows, and it’s because of her relationship to Haley and Aquamarine.

7. The Breakfast Club

The quintessential teen movie, The Breakfast Club follows five divisively different teens as they are stuck together one Saturday morning for detention. If you’re not accustomed to the John-Hughes-80s-Film, the movie might seem a bit strange at first, but it gets so good when the teens are able to have a vulnerable heart-to-heart that shows them how they’re not all that different. It’s an important lesson as anyone is growing up, and one that is beautifully told in this film.

8. Wild Child

So honestly, there’s nothing much more cliché than a story about a spoiled rich girl being sent off to boarding school to clean up her act, but let me tell you, this one is a good one. Emma Roberts plays that rich girl who slowly befriends a few plucky British girls (and lands the headmistress’s hot son, played by Alex Pettyfer). The absence of her mom makes her realize how much she needs those real, female friendships, and she grows out of her bratty, righteous mindset. If you love Brits and montages of girls trying on clothes for a dance, this movie is a great one for you to watch.

This list could certainly keep going because there are so many good ones out there. What are some of your favorites that I may have missed?