90s Teenage Movies: Teen movies from the 1990s featured plenty of alluring newcomers, love triangle dramas, and even the occasional murder mystery.
The 1990s were a dynamite decade for entertainment, but it set new standards for appealing to a younger audience. TV networks and movie studios rushed to create content starring the most well-liked teen idols of the time as teenagers demonstrated what a devoted audience they were.
Top 90s Teenage Movies List
As a result, the 90s Teenage Movies were packed with alluring newcomers, love triangle dramas, and even the occasional murder mystery. Many of these films went on to become cult classics, cementing their places in fans’ hearts and the teen movie hall of fame despite not earning the respect of most critics.
In “Cry-Baby,” Johnny Depp Plays A 1950s Greaser
90s Teenage Movies Cry-Baby, written and directed by the renowned Hairspray creator John Waters, centers on Johnny Depp’s Wade, a teenage rebel in 1950s Baltimore who falls in love with a girl from the “square” neighborhood. Despite receiving favorable reviews, the movie bombed at the box office when it debuted in early 1990.
Cry-Baby became a cult favorite after a disastrous theatrical run, largely because of Johnny Depp’s outstanding performance. The movie’s success prompted the creation of an eponymous Broadway musical, which made its debut in 2007 and received four nominations for the score and choreography of the show.
Jawbreaker stars Courtney, Julie, and Marcie
90s Teenage Movies Jawbreaker, a black comedy about a group of popular girls that disintegrates after one of its members is killed by the group’s leader, was inspired by the late 1980s classic Heathers. The remaining three members, Courtney, Julie, and Foxy, were played by Rose McGowan, Rebecca Gayheart, and Julie Benz, respectively.
Upon release, Jawbreaker received a negative review. Many critics referred to the film’s obvious similarities to Heathers as plagiarism rather than homage. However, the film was praised for its vibrant costume design and McGowan’s performance—two aspects that would later inspire the enduring Mean Girls.
Depp and Tim Burton first worked together on “Edward Scissorhands.”
Edward Scissorhands, directed by the contentious Tim Burton, had its 1990 world premiere to overwhelmingly positive reviews. The romance between Edward, a young man with scissor blades for hands, and Winona Ryder’s character, Kim, centers on the first project between Burton and Johnny Depp.
90s Movies Despite receiving numerous nominations for its makeup, costume design, and performances at important industry gatherings like the Academy Awards, Edward Scissorhands only managed to take home two awards: the Hugo and the Saturn. Due to its cultural influence, the gothic subculture became more well-known and was adapted into a London ballet production.
In “The Craft,” four outcasts practice witchcraft
The Craft from 1996 follows a group of four misfits as they start learning witchcraft and deal with the effects of their newly discovered abilities. In addition to Neve Campbell, it featured an ensemble cast that included Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Rachel True, and Andrew Fleming, who also directed the 2007 Nancy Drew film.
90s Teenage Movies Despite receiving mixed reviews, the movie was a box office hit, earning almost four times its modest fifteen million dollar budget. The Craft, like many other lesser-known teen films of the era, went on to become a cult favorite due to its themes and characters. The sequel, The Craft: Legacy, to the movie was widely panned and released in 2020.
She’s All That’s Star-Studded Ensemble Cast Leaves a Mark
She’s All That, a 1999 teen rom-com starring Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook, is about a successful high school student who wagers to make over one of the least popular girls in the school. Along with having a stellar ensemble cast, the movie also starred Matthew Lillard, Paul Walker, Kieran Culkin, Anna Paquin, and Gabrielle Union.
The featured single “Kiss Me” from Sixpence None the Richer became an overnight hit in the music charts thanks to She’s All That, which garnered several fan-voted awards. Twenty-two years later, Netflix released He’s All That, a gender-flipped remake of the movie starring singer and TikTok star Addison Rae.
Cruel Intentions Kathryn, Sebastian, and Annette
Cruel Intentions, which is based on the 18th-century novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses, centers on a group of students attending a privileged high school in New York and their interpersonal conflicts. Selma Blair, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, and Sarah Michelle Gellar all won praise for their performances.
Cruel Intentions received mixed reviews from most critics but nevertheless enjoyed enormous popularity with the general public. Cruel Intentions was turned into a jukebox musical in 2015 after a disastrous prequel in the year 2000 and an even worse direct-to-video sequel in 2004. The musical ran for three successful years.
The Slasher Genre Was Reinvigorated & Reinvented by “Scream”
David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Matthew Lillard, and Rose McGowan starred in Wes Craven’s Scream, one of the most well-known slasher films of all time. The movie, which is set in California, centers on a group of high school students who run into the masked killer Ghostface.
Following a period when such films were primarily devalued in the eyes of critics due to direct-to-video distribution, scream both parodied and reinvented various slasher tropes, reviving the genre. The film’s box office success led to the creation of a lucrative film franchise. Early in 2022, the latest episode, also titled Scream, debuted.
Romeo and Juliet is still among the most widely watched Shakespeare adaptations
Shakespeare’s best-known play was transformed into a modern teen romance by Australian director Baz Luhrmann in 1996, starring teen heartthrobs Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. Romeo and Juliet depict the title characters, who are now the heirs to two prosperous companies, as they fall in love despite the bitter animosity between their families.
Despite not being a critical darling, the movie received praise for its originality and aesthetics and is still regarded as one of the most significant Shakespeare adaptations ever. Romeo + Juliet was nominated for an Academy Award for its art direction and won two prizes at the 47th Berlin International Film Festival.
“10 Things I Hate About You” shot to stardom almost immediately
In yet another modernization of Shakespeare, Heath Ledger played a local bad boy who is hired to date Kat, a socially awkward girl portrayed by Julia Stiles. Due to their outstanding performances, both leads as well as Joseph Gordon-Levitt became overnight teen sensations and won numerous accolades.
Early in 1999, 10 Things, I Hate About You made its debut to generally favorable reviews, and since then, it has grown to be one of the most well-known teen films ever made. The movie was rewritten into a short-lived eponymous TV series that ran for twenty episodes on ABC Family before being canceled, exactly ten years after its release.
One of the top teen movies of all time is “Clueless.”
Clueless, which is based on Jane Austen’s novel Emma, follow Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz, a wealthy and stylish but impressionable high school student who takes great pride in her makeovers and matchmaking. Cher’s best friend Dionne was portrayed by Stacey Dash, and Cher’s new “project,” Tai, was portrayed by Brittany Murphy. Paul Rudd completed the cast as the main love interest.
Clueless, in contrast to other teen movies, received positive reviews from both critics and viewers. It was widely praised for its acting, characters, and script, and it was so well-liked that ABC decided to greenlight a sitcom spin-off in 1996, one year after the movie’s release, which ran for three seasons without Silverstone’s participation. Twelve years later, a Broadway jukebox musical also appeared, extending Clueless’ appeal into the new millennium.