The 1990s was a Golden era for teen movies, earning a deserved place in American pop culture. During the ’90s, many films featuring teenage characters, high school happenings, and college comedies took box offices by storm. These films explored such classic coming-of-age themes as identity and love, while also testing the bounds of youth rebellion with wild antics and daring adventures.
This article will rank the best ’90s teen movies that have become iconic in their own right, from worst to best. We’ll explore the genre’s best films and revisit some of the most beloved ’90s teen movie moments. So, sit back, relax, and get ready to get nostalgic.
Wild America (1997)
Wild America is the story of three brothers who embark on a road trip to shoot footage of untamed animals in their natural habitat. While the movie was not a major box office hit and is regarded as one of the worst in the genre, it is occasionally recommended because of its unique subject matter, as well as beautiful cinematography.
She’s All That (1999)
Starring Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook, She’s All That tells the story of a high school geek (Zack Siler) who gets help from his popular friends to reinvent the nerdy Laney Boggs in an attempt to make his ex-girlfriend jealous. It’s a classic ’90s teen movie trope, but this formulaic film is still popular today and has become an icon of the teen movie genre.
One of the most iconic teen films of the ’90s is Clueless, starring Alicia Silverstone as the spoiled yet charmingly sweet Beverly Hills high schooler Cher Horowitz. This modern-day adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma follows Cher as she navigates the slippery terrain of high school life and learns valuable lessons along the way.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
10 Things I Hate About You tells the story of two sisters, Kat and Bianca Stratford, and their respective high school adversaries. This teen movie follows the two as they confront the trials and tribulations of trying to fit in and find love in a world full of popular kids, cliques, and high school drama. The movie stars Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger, and a memorable soundtrack by Letters To Cleo.
Can’t Hardly Wait (1998)
Can’t Hardly Wait is an ensemble cast film set at a high school graduation rager. The movie humorously follows the quest of each of the partygoers as they look for love, adventure, and better versions of themselves.
American Pie (1999)
American Pie is a classic tale of four high school seniors who make a pact to lose their virginity before prom night. This movie was a major box office success and was praised for its relatable characters and often raunchy humor. It also has some memorable lines, including “I’m Steve Stifler, and this is my bus!”
The Craft (1996)
The Craft is a supernatural horror movie about four teenage girls who join forces to practice witchcraft and gain power over those who have wronged them. Although the film contains some dark themes, there’s still lots of teen drama, making it a classic ’90s teen movie.
Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic play, set in modern-day Verona. Starring Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio, this romantic drama follows the two star-crossed lovers as they grapple with the expectations of their warring families and try to find a way to be together.
Empire Records (1995)
Empire Records follows a group of music-loving teens who attempt to prevent their beloved independent record store from being sold to a corporate chain. The film stars Liv Tyler, Renee Zellweger, and Johnny Whitworth and has become a cult classic for its catchy soundtrack and its exploration of teenage rebellion.
Dazed and Confused (1993)
Dazed and Confused is the quintessential ’90s teen movie, directed and written by Richard Linklater. The movie follows a group of high schoolers in 1976 on the last day of school as they anxiously await their future and try to make the most of their time together. It’s a classic exploration of identity and the highs and lows of growing up.
It’s obvious why ’90s teen movies are still beloved to this day. These films touched on relevant themes such as identity, rebellion, and love while also delivering some memorable comedy, adventure, and of course, lots of nostalgia. From Clueless to American Pie, it’s hard to pick a favorite movie from this vast genre. Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that these films have become iconic and remain evergreen in the hearts of teen movie fans.