The 90s Teen Movie Experience

Much like the decade before it, the 90’s had plenty of popular films focused on teens and their experiences. These movies touched upon all of the classic themes of adolescence–unrequited crushes, first love, high school bullies and embarrassing moments, prom, and graduation. They also added their 90’s sensibility to these stories and established a new cast of heartthrobs. Some of the most popular stars for 90’s teens were Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Phillippe, Paul Walker, Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Reese Witherspoon, and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Movies such as Varsity Blues, She’s All That, Can’t Hardly Wait, Never Been Kissed, Drive Me Crazy, and American Pie all focused on modern high school life while also providing great 90’s soundtracks.

Classic Stories Retold

Although modern stories of 90’s teen life were well-loved, some of the most popular teen movies of the decade were actually based on older stories, such as Clueless (based on Jane Austen’s Emma), 10 Things I Hate About You (a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew), and a modernized remake of Romeo and Juliet. Two other historically-based films were Titanic and Cruel Intentions, a teenage-centered remake of a film based on a much older story. These movies managed to take classic stories and make them feel modern, and many of the retellings were also witty and fun. Clueless, one of the most influential teen-centered films of the 90s, spawned new catchphrases such as “Loser,” “As if,” and “Whatever,” along with a bunch of iconic fashion trends!

Scary Movies Made a Comeback

The teen horror genre took off after the Scream franchise catapulted it into popularity. Other popular teen horror films from the 90’s included I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Faculty, Disturbing Behavior, and Urban Legend.

The Neighborhood Blockbuster

Along with a weekend trip to the movies, one of the most iconic movie-related experiences for 90’s teens was a trip to the beloved neighborhood Blockbuster. Before the days of Netflix, Redbox, and DVR, getting access to a good movie was not quite as easy as it is now. Blockbuster always had the newest releases, but you had to get there early on a Friday or Saturday before your movie got snatched up! If you didn’t, you were left browsing all the less popular new releases, or venturing back to one of the classic sections in the middle of the store for an old favorite. Since Blockbuster had both VHS and DVD options, you always had to make sure to “be kind, please rewind” when you checked out a VHS movie.

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