Top 5 movies for youth workers from the past decade

Here is a quick list from the past decade of youth related movies that have deeply helped my understanding of teenagers and youth culture.  The list includes documentaries, satires, dramas, and comedies all focusing on contemporary teen culture and issues.

I am sure my list is limited, so please add a few recommendations to all youth workers (and parents).  We have watched most of these movies with our teens and had incredible honest conversations as a result.  I highly recommend parents and youth workers to watch these, as uncomfortable as some of them may be.

Through your comments, I would like to add more and will post your suggestions.

1)  American Teen

2)  Juno

3)  Thirteen

4)  How to Save a Life

5) Saved


7 thoughts on “Top 5 movies for youth workers from the past decade

  1. Solid list (haven’t seen American Teen though, I’ll have to check that out). But we did have an entire winter retreat on Saved! For me, Saved! is hard to beat because I appreciate much of the satire.

    I know it’s a cheesy romantic comedy but I thought Can’t Hardly Wait described the “high school” scale pretty well. And along the lines of Thirteen, I’d add the Virgin Suicides.

    Would also suggest the documentary the Merchants of Cool and Christian Smith’s dvd, Soul Searching

    • Virgin Suicides- great thought!
      There is a mass of movies on teen culture that fall into romantic-comedy genre. I agree Can’t Hardly Wait is up there. John Tucker must die is another one. Mean girls also portrays a certain aspect of teen culture as well. thanks for your comments additions. I hear Soul Searching is good…have not watch it yet (do you have a copy?)

  2. Yeah, I thought Mean Girls was good too. On numerous occasions, I have heard a teen girl say, “It’s actually a lot worse than movie”.

    I would be happy to lend you my copy of Soul Searching. See you in the New Year.

  3. @Jay, haha, I totally agree. It’s satire, it’s a caricature but much of it is sadly true. It did get a bit too preachy at the end and wished it would have still valued the idea of faith even if the movie’s followers were flawed but what can you do.

    See you around.

  4. I think if you are looking at the last decade then you need to consider Elephant. I also agree that cool hunting documentary is good.

  5. Great list! I’d like to add a few lesser known films:

    “The Class” is a French film that won the Golden Palm at Cannes a few years ago, focusing on an entire school year in a freshmen-level urban Parisian classroom.

    “Let The Right One In” is a Swedish vampire film that tackles the themes of identity formation, friendship, parental involvement, bullying, romance, and numerous other teen issues.

    I’ll second Steve Holt that “Elephant” is a film that more youth workers need to view and contemplate. Gus Van Sant’s second teenager film “Paranoid Park” also addresses teen issues of morality and guilt in an artful manner. Not easy films to watch though.

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