The Teen Dramedy: Is It Spectacular, Now?

Published 9/16/13 by:

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There has been a recent influx of teen dramedys (one of my favorite wombos), and I’m thrilled about it, but I’m also terrified. Teenagers have real problems, this much I know, and their issues span from basic insecurity to health problems, from mental problems to addiction and from family instability to academic instability. Teenagers have sorrow, and while some of it is directly related to popularity, some of it is a lifelong struggle that kids see as never-ending. There are three specific films that I’ve seen in the past year that identify, explore, poke, prod and make fun of many of these swirling dilemmas our current teenagers face. My main question is this: who is the audience for these movies? Please keep in mind that I saw all three of these at the cinema, and if I had to guess the average age of the theater attendees I would say 25-30 (myself included). Who are these films being made for? Are the folks who actually need to contemplate these scenarios and how to negotiate them able to see them? Should they see them? Perhaps parents are letting their teens see these films to spark conversation, but alternatively, and depressingly more realistic, I think they’re letting their kids see these films to avoid having the conversations themselves. It’s my hope that these films continue to be made because they’re important, and offer realistic instead of idealistic scenarios in the lives of American teenagers. Therein lies’s the rub: teens are one of the most lucrative demographics, so if they don’t start going to see these films, they’ll become extinct.

 

Film: The Spectacular Now

Currently: In theaters.

Premise: Sutter Keely (pictured above) is the big man on campus. Need beer at your party? He’s got you. Need dating advice? He’s all over it. Socially, he’s the man of the hour. He has a car, a job, and a mom who works the nightshift. However, it’s his senior year, he’s tanking most of his classes, and his dream girl has just dumped him because he “doesn’t take anything seriously”. Enter Aimee. She’s the girl next door that’s fending for herself. She’s got dreams that she’s willing to chase, and she becomes charmed as well as enamored by Sutter’s bigger than life personality. Can Aimee change Sutter’s perspective? Or will Sutter persuade Aimee that life’s a party?

Teenager Factors: Underage drinking, sex, drunk driving, absentee parents, lying, abandonment, college and academic failure.

Ending: Perplexing, but with potential

Taglines: “We’ll never be as young as we are right now.”

 

 

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Film: The Perks of Being a Wallflower (pictured above)

Currently: On DVD and BluRay

Premise: Charlie is starting his freshmen year of high school, and despite having insanely popular older siblings, he feels invisible. Well, apart from the bullying he endures. Charlie has suffered from very traumatic events for a 15-year-old. Actually, the events Charlie has encountered would set any person back, but doubly so for someone at such an impressionable age. Just when Charlie thought his countdown of days left in high school was too much to face, he meets vivacious, flamboyant Patrick and his whimsical, beautiful, step-sister Sam. They see Charlie as a fellow misfit and embrace him (and his earnest struggles) immediately. Charlie is soon with a fast crowd of seniors, and when his feelings for Sam start to crest, it all starts to crumble.

Teenager Factors: Underage drinking, drug usage, sex, homosexuality, suicidal thoughts, molestation, college, SATs, and domestic violence.

Ending: Dark with a twist of hopeful.

Taglines: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” “And in that moment, I swear, we were infinite.”

 

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Film: The Way, Way Back (pictured above)

Currently: Available for pre-order on DVD/BluRay. Release date: Oct. 22, 2013.

Premise: Sometimes your divorcee mom decides to start dating again. Sometimes that results in you being whisked away for the summer to a beach house in a town where you don’t know a soul. This is the scenario in which we meet Duncan. He’s socially outcast because he’s the new guy in a neighborhood predominantly comprised of adults looking to get sloshed and escape their realities. It isn’t until Duncan secretly gets a gig at the local water park that he meets some people that he can finally let loose with. As Duncan straddles difficult scenarios with his potential stepfather, he seeks more refuge from the motley crew manning the slides.

Teenager Factors: Affairs, underage drinking, lying, abandonment, and parental units dating.

Ending: Triumphant.

Taglines: “It’s like Spring Break for adults.”

 

So which of these films sounds worthwhile to you? Adults: do you want  to see these? Do you want your kids to see these? Kids: You don’t have to tell me. I already know you’re dying to see these. Wanting what you can’t have never really goes away, does it?

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