Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Thursday Movie Picks Meme: Teen Angst

This week, the theme for Wanderer's Thursday Movie Picks Meme is Teen Angst. There are a lot of emotional and psychological difficulties that people face when they enter their teens, and it can be a very difficult period of a person's life. Naturally, there have been plenty of movies made on the subject of troubled youth and the everyday issues faced by teenagers.

Now there are plenty of films on the subject. In fact, there's one coming out very soon: The Edge of Seventeen. However, with this list, I've decided to find some unusual choices. These are titles nobody is going to see coming but I've got some good ones. Let's begin...

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Not what you expected to see on this list, was it? Yes, Victor Flemmin's The Wizard of Oz is a weird and moderately surreal (or at least as surreal as you could get in studio-era Hollywood) fantastical adventure that may or may not have been all a dream. However, it's easy to get so swept away by the extravagant and colorful scenery of Oz that it's easy to forget the black-and-white sequences that open and close the film and that at its core, the film is really about Dorothy's own emotional issues. The entire story is set in motion because Dorothy is frustrated with her mundane life and wants to run away, only to question the value of home when her wish is granted in a rather unusual way.

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

What list of teen angst movies would be complete without the original teen angst movie. Nicholas Ray's film is widely considered a classic and is arguably the most iconic role of James Dean (also his second film, and one of only three he made before he died). The movie follows three teenagers in the 1950's who are all struggling with their own personal and emotionally difficulties as well as family relations, and how they find themselves coming together when they are all arrested under different charges; eventually finding comfort in each other. Of course, matters are made more problematic by the society that isn't ready to accept their friendship or understand the emotional difficulties they're facing, leading to a dark climax at the film's conclusion.

Labyrinth (1986)

Okay, this is probably not one you expected to see make the list, but teen angst is really at the center of Jim Henson's surreal fantasy adventure. After all, underneath the bizarre puppets, David Bowie's flamboyant costumes, the various fantastical set pieces, and the surreal journey vaguely reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz, it really is about a teenager working through her own emotions. In fact, I wrote an entire essay explaining in detail how the story is really about Sarah's emotional struggle to reconcile two different sides of her personality (her imagination and her real-world responsibilities), a struggle represented by her journey through the labyrinth.


  1. I've never thought of The Wizard of Oz as teen angst-related; her emotions are the core to what set the film in motion. I've yet to see Labyrinth but I've heard good things about it.

  2. Love these. The Wizard of Oz is a brilliant way to look at the theme, it truly does all come about because of Dorothy's feelings of isolation and frustrations. Having Judy Garland at 17 cast as Dorothy adds that extra layer to the film that had they cast a younger actress as she is in the books would have been missing. Aside from her awe inspiring talent and even though she was trussed up to seem younger she is unmistakably on the verge of young womanhood.

    Rebel is such a linchpin of this genre. Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo convey their anguish so clearly but without Nick Ray's guiding hand the picture wouldn't be nearly as good as it is. A wonderful director.

    It's been years since I've watched Labyrinth and I don't remember too much of it but I would never had thought of the teen angst angle. Good catch.

    I tried for mix and some out of the norm choices too.

    Kitten with a Whip (1964)-After shivving a guard and trying to torch juvie hall, delinquent hellcat Jody (Ann-Margret) takes it on the lam roosting at the coop of rising politico David Patton (John Forsythe). Mad for a pad to lay low she puts the shine on him while throwing off lingo like "Why do you think you're such a smoky somethin' when you're nothin' painted blue?" Cool to her ridicule he gives her the gate. She splits but flies back to his igloo with two other hooligans and forces Dave to burn rubber down Tijuana way, it’s a bad scene though and they’re all slated for crashville. The tagline for this far-out opus? “She’s all out for Kicks…and every inch of her spells EXCITEMENT! She’s a real smoky kitten!” Its mad hipster crazy cool, baby!

    The Doom Generation (1995)-Two disconnected teenagers pick up sexy drifter Xavier, who radiates a savage vibe and who leads them down a path loaded with sex and violence. As they travel through a series of small towns a cloud of doom hangs over them which no matter how they try clings to them.

    Teen Wolf (1985)-Scott (Michael J. Fox) is a normal mopey teen mooning over a girl who doesn’t know he exists and playing on a losing basketball team. Then he begins to notice when he gets upset he starts to feel different. He father pulls him aside and shares something he’s kept from him. Surprise! He’s part werewolf. By letting his inner beast out he becomes popular, the girl notices him and the team starts winning but he has to control his anger or the wolf will take over. Silly but fun comedy is helped immeasurably by Fox’s charm in the lead.

    Honorable Mention-To Sir, with Love (1967)-Unable to find a job in his chosen profession American Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) accepts a position teaching a group of angry rebellious teens in Eastern London. Using somewhat unorthodox methods he confronts their initial jibes and defiance ultimately garnering their respect and helping them work through their angst.

  3. I never thought of Dorothy as angsty so it's really interesting that you included her here. I like seeing it from that perspective.

  4. Classic choices. I'm kind of embarrassed to say that I've never seen Rebel, although it's been on my list for ages!

  5. Loving these picks and yes good case for Dorothy. I also picked Rebel but now I wished I picked Labyrinth - ultimate angst - banish your baby brother and have the goblins take him away.

  6. I almost picked The Wizard of Oz so I'm glad you picked this gem which I think totally suits the theme. I also picked Rebel and find it the one to beat regarding all teen angst films. I wouldn't have thought about Labyrinth but you are right about the hidden theme...great list

  7. The Wizard of Oz! Such a perfect pick that I would never have thought of. I've only seen parts of Labyrinth. Guess I should finish it one of these days. Ugh, I've still not seen Rebel Without a Cause. Sad, I know.

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  9. I wasn't expecting to see The Wizard of Oz this week but it's such a brilliant pick! I also picked Rebel Without a Cause, it's simply the best. Haven't seen Labyrinth but it sounds good.

  10. Great pick with Wizard of Oz! I wouldn't have thought of it as a teen angst film but Dorothy and her feelings are really what drives everything - awesome catch!