If you enjoyed American Graffiti, you’ll enjoy these similarly themed coming-of-age comedies.
Even after nearly fifty years since its release, George Lucas’ American Graffiti is still regarded as a cult classic. As one of the few films made at the time with actors like Ron Howard and Harrison Ford who were just starting their careers, American Graffiti is a special one.
For obvious reasons (such as a large number of nominations and wins at the box office and among critics), the film’s success can be traced back to its high production value… and nostalgic appeal. It’s true that the film makes creative use of this trope, but there are plenty of other coming-of-age comedies with a similar tone.
1. Mean Girls (2004)
Mean Girls is probably the most recognizable of the classic teen comedies. There had already been a plethora of coming-of-age comedies prior to the film’s release – far too many, in fact. In spite of this, Mean Girls was a critical and commercial success.
Lindsay Lohan portrays Cady, a sixteen-year-old homeschooled by her parents while growing up in Africa. The Plastics, a local queen bee swarm, notices her for the first time during her first day of school (played by Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried, and Lacey Chabert).
2. Booksmart (2019)
Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, 2019’sBooksmart, is one of the most recent releases. Despite its simplicity, the film was a commercial and critical success, earning Beanie Feldstein a nomination for Best Actress at the Golden Globes.
Amy (played by Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (played by Feldstein) have been friends for a long time and are seniors at the same high school. The two of them decide to attend a party right before graduation because they realize they should have taken advantage of high school more.
3. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
In the same way that many coming-of-age films of the time reimagined a classic William Shakespeare work – The Taming of the Shrew – 10 Things I Hate About You does. It’s a cult classic that launched the careers of actors like Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
When Cameron, a new student, first arrives at school, he is captivated by Bianca, another new student. Despite this, the girl is unable to date Cameron due to the demands of her controlling father. By making bad boy Patrick ask Kat out on a date, Cameron is able to secure the girl of his dreams.
4. Lady Bird (2017)
Lady Bird was a critical and commercial success, earning director Greta Gerwig Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, as well as nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress (Saoirse Ronan), and Best Supporting Actress. Lady Bird was one of the most visible films in recent years (Laurie Metcalf).
Ronan portrays Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, a high school senior in her final year of high school (set in 2002-2003). There is tension in Lady Bird’s mother-daughter relationship, she cherishes her friendship with her longtime best friend, and she longs to leave the small town of Sacramento where she was raised.
5. Superbad (2007)
With Jonah Hill and Michael Cera as its stars, Superbad was an instant hit upon its release, earning rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. The film’s on-screen chemistry between Hill and Cera garnered much of the film’s success.
As Seth and Evan, the film stars Jonah Hill and Michael Cera as two close friends about to graduate from high school. They’ll have to go on an adventure full of mishaps first, however, because the two friends have decided to lose their virginity.
6. Dazed and Confused (1993)
D&C was a box office success when it was first released, even though it’s now considered a cult classic. As a result of early roles by future stars like Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich, and Ben Affleck, Richard Linklater’s masterpiece has become an iconic coming-of-age film.
Following a group of Texas high school students as they participate in traditional hazing, attend parties, and generally enjoy teenage life on May 28, 1976, the film is set in that year.
7. The Breakfast Club (1985)
As with many of John Hughes’ films, The Breakfast Club is regarded as one of the all-time great teen dramas. It was a huge commercial and critical success, and many people consider it to be one of the best films of the 1980s.
Five high school students from various social groups are given detention and are forced to spend the weekend together under the strict supervision of their strict assistant principal.
8. Little Women (2019)
Little Womenis an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel directed by Greta Gerwig. The film’s critical and commercial success (including six Oscar nominations and a win for Best Costume Design) is truly remarkable, but the cast, which includes Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothee Chalamet, Meryl Streep, and Louis Garrel, is truly impressive as well.
A historical family in Concord, Massachusetts in the late 1800s is profiled in the film, including four sisters named March.
9. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, along with The Breakfast Club, is regarded as one of John Hughes’s finest works. It was a critical and commercial success at the time, and it has since developed a cult following of its own.
The film is set in suburban Chicago and follows high school dropout Ferris Bueller, who convinces two of his closest friends to join him in skipping class.
10. Almost Famous (2000)
Nearly Famous was well-received by critics despite its commercial failure and was nominated for four Academy Awards, taking home the best original screenplay prize. As a result, it rose to prominence as one of the best movies of the decade.
Story follows a young journalist who is assigned to write an article for Rolling Stone about a fictional band called Stillwater in the early 1970s.