Movies that Defined My Teen Years + What They Taught Me About Life

Last Modified: April 27, 2017 at 9:09 am by Tianna | Leave a comment

movies that defined my teen years and what they taught me about life

The movies that defined my teen years ranged from cult classics from the 80’s to more modern picks like Donnie Darko, Harry Potter, and others and I learned various lessons about life from each of them at this point in my life, knee-deep in teen angst. I thought I would share these since my horrible films post was pretty popular so I hope you enjoy!

Movies that Defined My Teen Years

+ What They Taught Me About Life

pretty in pink

Pretty In Pink (or anything John Hughes)

I love John Hughes.I don’t even know when I started watching his movies. Maybe they all just showed up one day when I was 15 like a teenage starter kit, but anyway. All teenagers should watch his films because they’re just as relevant now as they were when they first came out. The most notable ones include Breakfast Club, 16 Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and yes, Pretty In Pink.

While I love all of these, Pretty in Pink is one of my favorites because the main character, Andie, (played by Molly Ringwald) is such a strong female lead.

She’s her own unique person and she’s not afraid to stand up for herself. So, although this film is technically a romantic chick flick, I really loved that aspect of this film. It definitely taught me to be myself. There’s a strong message that you should never try to change yourself to make a guy like you or have his friends or anyone else approve. Also, to defy stereotypes. We might appear to be something on the outside, but there’s a lot more going on on the inside. Also, 80’s music is amazing. Own it. Love it. Rock out to it.


Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko was insanely popular when I was a teenager. If you’ve never seen it, it’s the story about a troubled boy who survives a freak accident and begins questioning life’s meaning and becomes obsessed with time travel.

I don’t want to give too much away, but this was one of the first movies I was super obsessed with.

The first time I saw the film, it seriously freaked me out, but maybe that’s because I saw it in my friend’s basement at the time around 2 AM and anything seems scary when you’re tired enough. This was one of the first movies I saw where the main character’s sanity is questioned and you don’t know whether or not what he’s experiencing is reality or fantasy. Also, every living creature on this earth dies alone. Isn’t that a terrifying thought?

10 things i hate about you

10 Things I Hate About You

I’m not a huge fan of Julia Stiles, but I love her in this movie. Her character is a pretty accurate portrayal of trust issues and I think that’s why I related so much to her character.

This film taught me to be yourself and not care what other people think about you.

People always find a reason to hate you even if it’s not the truth.If you’ve never seen this one, definitely give it a watch! It’s basically a modern day retelling of the Taming of the Shrew.

igby goes down

Igby Goes Down

This movie is a coming of age story that takes place in a seriously dysfunctional family. Igby is a troubled boy, stifled by his life of privilege, who is looking for a better kind of life.

Don’t watch this movie if you’re easily offended.

This movie is a very dark comedy dramedy?  and I’m not sure what I learned from it? That rich people also have problems? That social entitlement is a thing? Also, anything can be endured with a lot of sarcasm.

harry potter

Harry Potter

When is Harry Potter not on one of my movie lists? The answer is never.

 Harry Potter taught me so much about friendship and about courage.

You guys should know what it’s about, but if not, I will sum it up for you. Boy wizard fights darkest wizard of all time. 😛

what dreams may come quote

What Dreams May Come

What Dreams May Come is an older film starring Robin Williams and it’s one of my favorites of all time. It’s about a family torn apart by tragedy, heaven and hell, and one couple’s unconditional love.

To me, it’s the ultimate expression of “love conquers all.”

It taught me a lot about not giving up, what I wanted in a partner, and how death and depression can affect people differently.

penelope movie


This film, although cheesy, taught me that it’s important to love yourself, first and foremost.

We might think other people can solve our problems for us or that we should be the way others want us to be, but in the end, we can only be ourselves and only we can solve our problems.

Definitely recommend this if you haven’t seen it yet! It’s based on a YA book of the same name and is about a girl named Penelope born with a pig’s nose thanks to her family curse.

brick movie


Brick is a modern day film noir murder mystery about a high school drug and crime scene. It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt before he was fully recognized (you know, in his adult life, not including 3rd Rock from the Sun).

In the story, Brendan searches for his missing girlfriend.

This film taught me that doing the right thing doesn’t always make you the most popular with people and JGL is a hottie.


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

This movie was the first movie I watched that really displayed what a real relationship looks like. It’s not all sunshine and daisies and I think it’s important to know that.

I think we can be delusional about what we think love and relationships should be, but the truth is they are what you make of them. You get out what you put in.

And also, as humans, none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. It’s how we make up for them and learn from them that really matters. Anyway, if you have yet to see this awesome movie starring my favorites – Kate Winslet and Jim Carey – then definitely give it a watch! It’s basically about a guy who finds out his former girlfriend has her memories of him erased and decides to go through with the same procedure. Midway through, he changes his mind and tries to save what memories he can of her.

What Movies Defined Your Teen Years?

Do Any of these Make Your List?


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41 thoughts on “Movies that Defined My Teen Years + What They Taught Me About Life

  1. February 16, 2016 at 3:36 PM

    I love so many of these too! So many memories lol- sweet share 🙂 !!!

    1. February 16, 2016 at 4:27 PM

      haha glad you love these too! 😛 Thanks for visiting me, Angie ♥

  2. February 16, 2016 at 10:54 PM

    10 Things I Hate About You was one of my favorite “chick flicks” of all time. Julia Stiles’ character was such a badass! :] Aside from those, I’ve only seen some of the Harry Potters (don’tjudgeme!) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind–I’m gonna need to check out the rest of em’!

    1. February 17, 2016 at 8:37 AM

      haha me too! I loved her in that movie. HP is the best – no judgment here! lol Definitely give the rest a watch – these are great ones 😀

  3. February 17, 2016 at 8:44 AM

    Okay, I’ve only seen three of these movies, so that’s pretty bad! 10 Things I Hate About You was one of my favorite movies…I just remember loving Bianca’s outfits and the poem…who can not love that!

    ShannonClothes & Quotes

    1. February 17, 2016 at 3:25 PM

      Haha well I hope you check some of these out because they are all equally awesome 🙂 and yes, 10 Things I Hate About You had some great fashion moments 🙂 that poem gets me every time!

  4. February 17, 2016 at 11:18 AM

    I neeeed to watch penelope! It seems like a great movie!

    1. February 17, 2016 at 3:26 PM

      it’s super cute and fun! I really enjoyed it 🙂

  5. Pam
    February 17, 2016 at 10:54 PM

    Oh man they took me back in time! John Hughes… Never gets old.

    1. February 18, 2016 at 9:12 AM

      haha glad you enjoyed it, Pam! I know! I love anything John Hughes 😀

  6. February 18, 2016 at 12:15 AM

    Good mix of movies!!! I loved all those John Hughes movies too, and I haven’t seen a few of those yet so I’ll add them to the list. I remember thinking it eternal sunshine of the spotless mind was trippy lol.

    1. February 18, 2016 at 9:13 AM

      haha me too! Hope you enjoy the ones I listed – let me know what you think! Eternal Sunshine is a total trippy movie 🙂 That’s what I like about it. Another trippy movie is The Jacket. I love that one!

  7. February 19, 2016 at 8:39 PM

    I must, ahem, be a bit older than you because all of these movies came out when I was well beyond my teen years. :-). Thanks for sharing at the Blogger’s Pit Stop!
    Debbie @ Coach Debbie Runs recently posted…8 Ways You Can Use Flipboard to Drive Traffic to Your BlogMy Profile

    1. February 23, 2016 at 10:45 AM

      haha no worries, Debbie! What movies influenced your teen years? I’m curious! I love watching movies so happy to hear your recommendations any time 😀 thanks for stopping by!

  8. February 19, 2016 at 10:24 PM

    Pretty in Pink… I think we all leaned from that movie. Can’t wait to watch some of the others you mentioned, Netflix and couch on Sunday!
    Thank you for linking up with Weekend Wear!

    1. February 23, 2016 at 10:45 AM

      right? I know I did! Hope you enjoy the ones I shared 😀 thanks for stopping by Melissa ♥

  9. February 20, 2016 at 2:42 PM

    Sweet memories, I actually haven’t watched a few of them but sunshine is such a great one. Thank you for linking up with Weekend Wear Fridays.

    xo Sheree
    IG: @poshclassymom

  10. February 20, 2016 at 11:27 PM

    Thanks for linking up to Top of the World Style

  11. February 23, 2016 at 11:17 AM

    I must be older than you because I’ve only seen a handful of these! ha My teen year movies all include Michael J Fox in just about all of them. ha Thanks for sharing at Your Inspired Design!

  12. February 23, 2016 at 5:44 PM

    I absolutely love 10 Things I Hate About You and practically have it memorized. There are a couple on your list that I have never seen though! I will have to check them out!
    Erin @ Stay At Home Yogi recently posted…Classic Board Books Every Baby Should OwnMy Profile

    1. February 24, 2016 at 7:46 AM

      haha me too! It’s such a cult classic 🙂 Hope you find some good ones to watch 😀

  13. February 24, 2016 at 10:56 AM

    I haven’t seen any of these movies!!!! I really need to watch some of them, there is just never time or when there is, I can never stay awake! #overthemoonlinkyparty

    1. February 24, 2016 at 2:37 PM

      I hope you find time (and some energy lol) to watch some of these – they’re great! much love ♥ thanks for stopping by Laura!

  14. February 25, 2016 at 11:30 AM

    What a great list!! 10 Things I Hate About You is one of my favorites from when I was a teenager. I agree with you that anything John Hughes is fantastic. Love all those movies!!

    Thanks for sharing at Manic Monday linky party!!

  15. February 27, 2016 at 8:16 AM

    I’m with you about anything John Hughes. He defined my high school and college years. Thanks for sharing your memories with us at the Over the Moon Link Party.
    Sandy Sandmeyer recently posted…Win a Keurig 2.0 K250 Coffee Brewing SystemMy Profile

    1. March 1, 2016 at 10:47 AM

      Definitely agree! John Hughes is such a classic 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Sandy 🙂 ♥

  16. Pingback: How to Style Flare Denim, Faux Fur, Mules and More – The Sugar Ribbon Blog
  17. Amelie
    March 1, 2016 at 10:40 AM

    Is it bad that I haven’t watched most of these movies? Of course, I’ve watched Harry Potter (multiple times) and 10 Things I Hate About You (one of my favorites!). I’ve also watched Penelope recently and I really liked it! Most of these are on my list though – especially Pretty in Pink!


    1. March 1, 2016 at 1:07 PM

      Yes, girl! Get on it! haha jk, but seriously, check these out. They’re great, classic films ( in my not so humble opinion lol). I’m glad you’ve seen HP – I would’ve had to disown you 😛 Definitely watch Pretty in Pink, 16 Candles and Breakfast Club if you haven’t seen them! They’re cult classics of the 80s! ♥

  18. February 4, 2017 at 2:22 AM

    Anything from John Hughes, I was a teenager in the 80’s this was my backdrop !! I also love 10 things I hate about you and I love that my daughter’s and I watch it together.

    1. February 7, 2017 at 11:55 AM

      yess! I love John Hughes films so much! 10 things I hate about you is a classic! Glad you enjoy it too 🙂

  19. February 4, 2017 at 10:08 PM

    I am obviously much much older than you are. I had never considered the effect that movies have on us a teenagers but of course they do. It only makes sense now that you have pointed it out.

  20. Rae
    April 19, 2017 at 9:04 AM

    Great List!! Had so many in common and a few to add to my must watch list :p

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