Posted February 28, 2013 by Laurel Deneen in Features

Top Ten 90s Teen Films


It’s time to celebrate the 90s and the epic teen films that dominated that time. Well perhaps dominated is a bit strong, but you have to admit whether you liked them or not there were some fun, interesting and original films that saw a lot of us through that childhood/adolescent period of our lives. Here are our Top 10.




10.  The Craft (1996) 
-  If you were a teenage girl in the 90s there is no way you escaped seeing The Craft at least once. The movie is about a newcomer to a Catholic high school who is befriended by a trio of outcast teenage girls who practice witchcraft. Though she doesn’t take it seriously the new girl soon finds herself conjuring  up various spells and curses against those who slight them. Its creepy and over the top but it was also secretly what you wished you could do to those popular or mean girls in your high school.



Best Lines:


Driver: Watch out for the weirdos, girls.
We are the weirdos, mister.

Nancy: If God and the Devil were playing football, Manon would be the stadium that they played on.


9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles(1990) –  The live action Ninja Turtles movies may have blurred the lines between children’s and teen’s entertainment but certainly the first installment was a bit more adult. The turtles themselves deal with adolescent issues of growing up and losing the overwhelming presence of their master Splinter and Casey Jones is a vigilante who runs around New York in a hockey mask. The brothers also have to come to terms with serious injuries, guilt and learning to control their emotions, things that many teens related heavily to. The first film, more so than the subsequent sequels, also managed to make the world of four mutant turtles realistic while keeping a sense of humor that allowed a large audience to enjoy the adventure.


Best Lines:

Raphael: A Jose Canseco bat? Tell me… you didn’t pay money for this.

Leonardo: [Raphael has brought an unconscious April O'Neil into the sewer] Are you crazy?
Yeah, Leo – I’m crazy, OK? A loony, OK?
But why?
Why? Why – Oh I don’t know, ’cause I wanted to redecorate. You know, a couple of throw pillows, a TV news reporter, what do ya think?



8. That Thing You Do (1996) – Directed and written by Tom Hanks , That Thing You Do has a surprising mass appeal to teens when it was released. Following a band in the early 1960s the audience watched as the band forms, become friends, score a hit and tour before ultimately falling apart. It may have been obvious that the aptly named Wonders would only score one top 10 hit in retrospect, but great writing and enthralling acting kept a young audience of band geeks and movie buffs interested. It didn’t hurt that the band members were easy on the eyes either. An original soundtrack that climbed the Billboard charts, and great comic relief in the form of Steve Zahn’s character Lenny also helped it become a classic 90s teen film.

Best Lines:

Jimmy: [Speaking about Diane Dane ] She told me never trust a label. And I’m beginning to believe her.
Well, sure. I mean, come on. They put us up in a first class hotel, all expenses paid, while our record climbs the charts; bunch of lyin’ snakes.
Sorry I’m buggin’ you! I guess I’m alone in my principles.
[leaves the room]
Oh come on. Oh, there he goes off to his room to write that hit song “Alone in my principles.”

[When Jimmy is reluctant to sign a management contract]
Are you crazy? A man in a really nice camper wants to put our song on the radio! Gimme a pen, I’m signin’! You’re signin’! We’re all signin’!




7. Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1992) – The film would eventually inspire the epic Joss Whedon series by the same name deserves a spot on this list for that reason alone, because seriously Buffy is an icon. Whether you know her from the 1992 film or the series everyone knows her name and knows that she is a vampire slayer of the highest order. The original film as a bit brighter (we assume left over from the day-glow loving 80s) and a bit more silly but it was interesting and original fodder for early 90s teens. Kristy Swanson played Buffy an air-headed teen who discovers it’s her destiny to slay vampires when her mentor Merrick (Donald Sutherland) shows up. What follows is a fun and campy romp through both the occult and a California high school.

Best Lines:

Buffy: All I want to do is graduate from high school, go to Europe, marry Christian Slater, and die. Now it may not sound too great to a sconehead like you, but I think it’s swell. And you come along and tell me I’m a member of the hairy mole club so you can *throw* things at me?

[after getting his whole arm cut off]
You ruined my new jacket! Kill him A LOT!




6. Powder (1995) – Powder unlike most of the films on this list is definitely not a comedy. The film features Jeremy “Powder” Reed (Sean Patrick Flannery) an albino boy with unique powers who after his grandparent’s death, comes out from the basement he’s been kept in and shakes up a small rural town. The film is about acceptance and the lack of it. The film spoke to a generation of outcast adolescents who couldn’t help but identify with Powder’s journey. With powerful performances by not only Flannery but a cast of supporting actors such as Mary Steenburgen and Jeff Goldblum the film is powerful yet ethereal and had a staying power that ensures you can still see it running from time to time on major cable networks.

Best Lines:

Powder:If you thought I was so intelligent would you ask me if I understood?

Powder:And then its possible to talk to someone without any lies. With no sarcasms, no deceptions, no exaggerations, or any of the other things people use to confuse the truth.



5. Newsies (1992) – Not only did a lot of high schools show this film for some reason or another but all drama, chorus and band geeks alike sang its praises. Newsies featuring a singing/dancing Christian Bale (That’s right, batman in a musical!) didn’t do that well in the box office but quickly gained a cult following in the mid to late 90s. The film follows a group of young boys who sell newspapers in 1899 New York as they go on strike and prepare to stand their ground. Based on a true story the film is touching and has an interesting balance of dark and light that draws young audiences in. In fact the film was such an underground success that it was recently resurrected in the form of a Tony Award winning Broadway play!

Best Lines:

David Jacobs: Why’d ya come back?
Jack Kelly:
Well, I guess I can’t be somethin’ I ain’t.
David Jacobs:
What, a scab?
Jack Kelly:
No, smart.

Spot Conlon: Your honor, I object.
Judge Monahan:
On what grounds?
Spot Conlon:
On the grounds of Brooklyn, your honor.



4. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) – Another film based on classic literature, 10 Things I Hate About You was a modern take of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. Biannca (Larisa Oleynik), a pretty popular girl is not allowed to date until her elder sister Kat does, or so says her overprotective father.The only problem? Kat (Julia Stiles)  has no interest and prides herself on being hard and unapproachable. Enter Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who wants to date Biancca and is willing to recruit the school bad boy to date Kat in order to make that happen. What comes next is a dramadey that every teen in the late 90s was talking about. Featuring the late great Heath Ledger in his breakout role as Patrick Verona, the school bad boy as well as several musical performances by Save Ferris and Letters to Cleo 10 Things definitely deserves a spot on this list.

Best Lines:

Ms. Perky: So, I hear you were terrorizing Mr. Morgan’s class… again.
Kat Stratford:
Expressing my opinion is not a terrorist action.
Ms. Perky:
The way you expressed your opinion to Bobby Ridgeway? By the way, his testicle retrieval operation went quite well, in case you’re interested.
Kat Stratford:
I still maintain that he kicked himself in the balls.

Chastity:I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?
I think you can in Europe




3. The Mighty Ducks Trilogy (1992-1996) – I may be biased, hailing from Minneapolis where these films were shot but come on, The Mighty Ducks? Classic. From the initial forming of the infamous team (The Mighty Ducks) to their journey through the Junior Goodwill Games (D2) to their adventures in an elite prep school (D3) 90s teens grew up with this gang of misfits. Who could forget the knuckle-puck, the bash brothers or GOLDBERG!?

Best Lines:

Les Averman: Just so you know, we really suck.
Gordon Bombay:
Hey, I’ll decide who sucks around here.

Lester Averman: Here with us, Greg Goldberg, goaltender for Team USA. Greg, what’s it gonna take to beat these feisty Icelanders, tonight?
I think it will take a supreme individual effort, by me, Greg Goldberg.

Dwayne: What’d he say?
Something about a shrinking sphincter.



2. Clueless (1995) -The classic Alicia Silverstone led teen movie gave us the phrases “whatever”, “as if” and inspired high school fashion for years surrounding its release making it one of the most influential movies of the decade. Based slightly on Jane Austen’s Emma, the film followed Cher, a Beverly Hills high school student as she traverses adolescent life while trying to match-make her single friend Tosh.


Best Lines:

Cher: That’s Ren and Stimpy. They’re way existential.

Travis:I would like to say this. Tardiness is not something you can do on your own. Many, many people contributed to my tardiness. I would like to thank my parents for never giving me a ride to school, the LA city bus driver who took a chance on an unknown kid and last but not least, the wonderful crew from McDonalds who spend hours making those egg McMuffins without which I might never be tardy



1. Empire Records (1995) – Following the adventures of a staff of misanthrope music lovers and the independent record store they work in, Empire Records stands the test of time. With a host of moody yet enthralling story-lines the film keeps watchers interest as they fight to “Damn the man, save the Empire!” The film features performances by then up and coming Liv Tyler (Lord of the Rings) and Renee Zellweger (Chicago) as well as 90s teen movie staple Ethan Embry (recently seen on Once Upon a Time).  The film also had the advantage of having one of the best soundtracks of the decade, opening up the world of Alternative music to younger audiences.  Coyote Shivers even performs with Zellweger’s character on top of the building as the gang tries to raise money to keep their beloved workplace out of the hands of a large corporation.

Best Lines:

Lucas: Joe, I think it’s gonna be okay.
What makes you think that?
Who knows where thoughts come from? They just appear.

Well “Sinead O’Rebellion.” Shock me shock me shock me with that deviant behavior.
God, that is so clever. I swear you get smarter the shorter your skirt gets.
And you get smarter the shorter your hair gets, so it’s probably a good thing you went with that. [looking at Debra’s shaved head] It’s a wonderful look for you darling.

Laurel Deneen

Lover of movies, television, theater, comics and general nerdery, Laurel hails from Minneapolis Minnesota. She has a geeky husband who requires more than the average amount of attention, a dog who thinks she's a dragon and she secretly longs to be a penguin.