Yesterday’s Movies, Today’s Truths: Three Older Movies Today’s Teens Should Watch

Though these movies are old enough to vote, they hold valuable lessons for the 21st century teen.

Jay Brown

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The importance of film is almost universal; though this technology has not existed throughout all of human existence, we can’t imagine life without the lessons and emotions shown through the screen. While today’s movies still teach invaluable lessons, there’s nothing like the messages that shine through movies of the 80s and 90s. From movies older than they are, today’s teens can find three key life lessons from the movie below: individuality, compassion and unity.

1. Can’t Buy Me Love (1987)
A young Patrick Dempsey steals the show as a nerd turned superstar in this 80s coming-of-age film. On a search for popularity, his character, Ronald Miller, pays high school cheerleader Cindy Mancini (Amanda Petersen) $1,000 to date him. Miller is quickly swept up in a whirlwind of fancy clothes, new friends and drama with old ones. The message for today’s teens is simple: be yourself, even when the entire world wants to be everyone else. It’s best expressed by Ronald Miller himself near the end of the film, where he says his iconic line, “Nerds, jocks. My side, your side. It’s all bullshit. It’s hard enough just trying to be yourself.”

2. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
With big-name stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp, it’s a shocker that this film hasn’t remained known throughout the 2000s. It’s based on a novel by Peter Hedges; Gilbert Grape (Depp) is a man who has grown up all too quickly, dealing with a plethora of responsibilities. With his mentally impaired younger brother, Arnie (DiCaprio), he navigates through heart-racing moments, a local affair and a less-than dramatic grocery store job. What this movie has to offer today’s teens is a heaping portion of compassion – not only for those around you but for yourself.

3. The Breakfast Club (1985)
This is one movie that has never dropped from the list of truly iconic movies. Starring five polar-opposite teens (Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Anthony Michael Hall, Emilio Estevez), this film has won the hearts of both teens and adults. After being stuck in all-day Saturday detention (as grueling as it sounds), the teens take back the power from their principal pen a message of unity. “You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal,” the words ring at the end of the movie. “Correct? That’s the way we saw each other at seven o’clock this morning. We were brainwashed.” As a student body that hopes to be “united” in the 2019-2020 school year, we all have a lesson to learn from “The Breakfast Club.”

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