Ah, our teenage years. They were the best of times and the worst of times. From our first loves, to our first heartbreaks, to Prom, to our most embarrassing moments, our teenage years were the most influential years that helped mold us into the adults we are today. While it gave way to several life-changing events for us, it also gave us the opportunity to see a lot of movies. Movie-watching as teenagers is never quite the same as watching movies as adults. For starters, as teens, we were all most likely to be going to the movies less out of leisure and more to snuggle up with our crushes. Some of us were so busy shoving our tongues down our significant other’s’ throats that we couldn’t even pay attention to the movie. Whatever we did see of the movie, we were more likely to like it simply because we didn’t have the best judgment when it came to movies. To put it simply, our tastes in movies stunk.
That would be just one reason to explain why some movies that we loved as teens don’t hold up as well when viewed as adults. In other cases, we, as teens, were not as savvy to understand what makes a good movie and were more likely to disregard the appalling features of a film in favor of what we were more likely to gravitate toward. In other words, we were too busy looking at a woman’s cleavage to see how bad the plot, acting, and overall presentation of a movie was. We simply had different priorities as movie viewers when we were teenagers, and it’s a big reason why these 15 movies kinda suck when we rewatch them today.
15. Dazed and Confused
No matter what we say here, Dazed and Confused will always be a staple in teen movie canon. We should all ask ourselves why that is. Yeah, Matthew McConaughey has that one funny line about high school girls. Yes, the cast is filled with a bevy of future stars. But really, what does Dazed and Confused have to offer? What is there to love? Not much if we’re being honest. If we can be perfectly honest, Dazed and Confused is nothing more than proof of just how easily we accept and praise mediocrity. The only reason teens love this movie is because it provided a glimpse into the window of adulthood that we all desperately wanted to enter as youngsters. Meanwhile, adults love the nostalgia because it brings back old memories, but when judged on its own merits, Dazed and Confused is a lifeless dud. No plot, no character, no ambition, and nothing to add to the table that thousands of teen movies didn’t do better before its release.
14. National Lampoon’s Van Wilder
National Lampoon’s Van Wilder is remembered best as the breakout role for Ryan Reynolds into superstardom. To be fair, Ryan Reynolds is great in the lead, and his perfect comic timing is reason enough why we all loved this as teens. The limitless charisma of Reynolds also seemed to have stunted our vision from seeing just how atrocious this movie actually was. We loved his delivery so much that we mistook that for loving the movie itself. Thanks to some blatant racist stereotypes, cringe-worthy homophobia, and several common tropes of the sex comedy sub-genre, this doesn’t hold up well at all.
13. American Pie Movies
When American Pie first hit the scene in 1999, it was looked at as something refreshing in the comedy genre. We soon realized that refreshing just meant that it was raunchier than any other gross-out comedy flick from that time period, but we ate that kind of stuff up as teens. We laughed aloud at something we found unique and admired the level of nudity and sex that our young, uneducated minds got to see. Then, we grew up and realized just how overrated this movie was. Perhaps, the movie just hasn’t aged well considering that the raunchier modern movies get, the more tame American Pie feels in comparison. Or maybe the amount of sex in this movie became irrelevant as soon as adult entertainment became disposable at our fingertips. Or, simply put, not all of the cleavage in the world could make up for the fact that this movie is tasteless and utterly dreadful.
Once regarded as a must-watch teen classic, Porky’s has become something more forgotten in recent years. There’s a reason for that. A film that was once hailed as wildly funny and somewhat revolutionary for the comedy genre would be deemed problematic by today’s standards. Modern eyes would view this film as misogynist, sexist, unnecessarily rude, and even a glorification of bullying. More than anything else, thanks to the dozens of sex comedies which came out after this, what felt unique in the ’80s now feels tasteless, dated, and to some extent, even a little tame considering how far more recent sex comedies have come in trying to promote gross-out content.
11. Dude, Where’s My Car?
This film has gone long been forgotten in recent years, and there’s a reason for that. The teen demographic that watched this movie grew up into adults who realized just how dumb this movie was — not just dumb because the two leads play two ditzy boneheads. It’s dumb because it crams in as many juvenile jokes it can fit in before the plot kicks in. By time it does kick in, the film just feels like it’s overstayed its welcome, and whatever charm or humor might’ve been found early on feels tepid when stretched out to an hour-and-a-half time span. But of course, dumb stoner humor was ideal for all of us at the tender teen age.
10. The Girl Next Door
This one’s for all the guys out there. Guys, admit it: the only reason we watched this one as pubescent teenagers was because we were horny kids who wanted to ogle some ‘tatty bojangles.’ In that regard, The Girl Next Door delivered, but we were so distracted by said ‘tatty bojangles’ that we didn’t notice just how lame the movie was overall — especially when it came to the ending, which focused on Emile Hirsch filming a softcore adult film about safe sex. And again, guys, let’s be honest: the main fantasy behind adult films is that there is NO safe sex. Trying to promote safe sex in an adult film kind of defeats the fantasy and the purpose of the p*rno. Thus, it killed the movie, which was already hanging by a thread without much to offer. Again, guys, admit it: as teenagers, you all would’ve turned this dud off if Elisha Cuthbert hadn’t been so hot.
9. Sex Drive
Sex Drive was another addition to a long line of teen sex comedies that were released with the same gross-out gag humor that made American Pie a success. Teenagers loved American Pie and any movies like it. Thus, we all loved Sex Drive back in the day. However, through adult eyes, it doesn’t hold up well. When we grow up, we realize just how tired the sex comedy tropes are, and by time Sex Drive was released, we saw almost a decade’s worth of overdone, overused tricks done to titillate its teenage audiences (if no one else). On top of that, while the whole premise of a dork meeting a girl online and traveling to see her seemed foreign and strange in 2008, it’s kind of the norm in 2017. All of the fears about the girl turning out to be some middle-aged dude just look ancient now.
By all accounts, Danny Zuko is a jerk. Sure, he’s a lovable one (through teenage eyes at least), but a jerk nonetheless. To put it in millennial terms, Zuko would be better defined as a f*ckboy. And to take it back to the ’90s, he’d be a scrub, and TLC taught us long ago that a scrub is a guy who should get no love from any of us. Not only did he somehow win all of our hearts in Grease, he was also loved unapologetically by Sandy. Sandy gave him the best summer of his life, but as soon as school rolled around, he treated her like yesterday’s news for the sake of looking cool in front of his bros. Suddenly, though, everything changed when she re-entered the scene dressed in a style more akin to his. Suddenly, he was smitten all over again. The film is basically saying that if you hook up with a guy, he’ll hit it, quit it, then ignore you until you adapt to his style — which is actually a much worse message than the one we got in Sixteen Candles.
7. Sixteen Candles
John Hughes is one of those directors who always had a classic in his hands no matter what film he tackled. With films like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off under his belt, it’s easy to see why. However, teenage nostalgia would tell us that Sixteen Candles is another great effort deserving of the classic moniker, but our newfound adult perspective would tell us otherwise. Watching as adults, we see that Sixteen Candles does manage to retain at least some of its charm, but above anything else, the film falls on the superficial side of things. If we think about the plot for a second, Molly Ringwald‘s romantic interest, Michael Schoeffling, hardly even notices Ringwald before he finds out she has a crush on him. It doesn’t seem like he’s even thinking about pining for her in the same way until after he learns of her love, but in a moment’s notice, he gives her a cake, and they’re suddenly the ideal ’80s couple.
6. She’s All That
There’s perhaps never been a more superficial movie to come out of the romantic comedy genre than She’s All That. As teens, we all swooned to see Rachael Leigh Cook blossom from an ugly duckling into a full-fledged swan the more that Freddie Prinze Jr. fell in love with the girl. Then, when we grew up, we noticed how messed up this movie really is. Never mind the fact that the whole reason Prinze interacts with Cook is for the sake of a bet. Pay closer attention to the real message that the film is getting across. Prinze has no interest in Cook before she gets all dolled up by Anna Paquin. As soon as she does, he starts seeing her for her inner beauty and genuinely falls for her. The whole inner beauty thing is a nice touch, but the film is basically telling its viewers that when it comes to love, it’s what we have on the inside that counts, but try not to be too ‘fugly’ or else no one is going to like you or talk to you.
5. A Walk to Remember
Teenagers could get suckered into anything back in the day. We would get easily swayed by a sad story, even if that story wasn’t well told. A Walk to Remember would be a perfect example. Yes, the story is pretty sad and would’ve made for a touching story. No wonder the whole thing made us weep nonsensically. However, looking at it now, it lacks substance. The film used a story that’s depressing and used it to disguise bad acting, unlikable characters, and scenes that either were poorly written or just never made sense, to begin with. It may have been easy for us to overlook this kind of stuff as teens, but as adults, it really puts a damper on the film and wastes a story that had potential to be genuinely powerful.
4. The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our Stars originally won over its teenage demographic thanks to the super depressing material, and truth be told, the book probably does hold up still. However, there’s something about the John Green bestseller that doesn’t translate well on film. Lines of dialogue like “I fell in love with him like the way you fall asleep… slowly, and then all at once,” which appeared touching on the page but suddenly sounded horribly corny when heard aloud. The relationship between Hazel and Augustus just feels incredibly forced onscreen. Hazel, especially, doesn’t come off as a girl who would be so easily smitten for a guy who equates smoking to some deep metaphor. Stuff like this easily caught our hearts and brought us to tears, but looking at this with older eyes, the film just doesn’t hold up well at all.
3. High School Musical
When High School Musical first premiered on Disney Channel in January 2006, it premiered to a record setting 7.7 million viewers. It was one of the most watched films to ever premiere on the network, with the sequel High School Musical 2 being the most watched Disney Channel movie ever. Clearly, the teenage demographic ate this whole thing up, but looking back on it now, it’s hard to understand why. Even by musical standards, the singing and dancing come off as subpar at best and complete garbage at worst. The story just feels laughable, especially when seeing just how on-the-nose some of the stereotypes for high school cliques in the movie are. The actual drama at the center of this thing is nowhere near as serious as any of the characters made it out to be. Then again, they’re just like most high schoolers: they’re teens who make a big deal out of nothing — which would explain why so many of us teens raved about this movie.
Even for teens, it wasn’t the “cool” thing to like any of the Twilight movies. Yet, there were still a handful of teenagers (specifically from the young female demographic) who were way too into these movies. Whether you loved it back then or not, the franchise certainly will not look as glamorous when rewatching it today. That goes doubly true for the first film in the franchise. While the sequels are so ridiculous that they can at least be seen as guilty pleasures, the first film is just pure unadulterated cringe. Kristen Stewart acts painfully awkward, the special effects look phony, and the chemistry between Stewart and Robert Pattinson is non-existent.
There was a time when Juno looked like both a definitive independent movie and the most refreshing coming-of-age tale in years. A lot of us teens looked up to the Juno character and saw ourselves in her, or at least we wanted to. Perhaps, this can be said of a lot of the film’s characters, but in Juno especially, we saw quick wit and strong-willed sensibilities, and we wanted to be her. We were so young that we mistook admiration for something more relatable. Then, we grew up and realized just how much of an obnoxious smart arse she is. Moral of the story? Don’t be Juno. Juno’s an a**hole, and while we’re at it, her movie isn’t as good as we remember it.
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