Kevin Sharp is a New Mexico native who currently lives in Northern California, where he teaches high school English. He is the author of numerous screenplays and two award-winning short stories. While he has technically grown up, Kevin has yet to outgrow Looney Tunes, The Price is Right, fantasy novels, or comic books. Deep down, he still thinks that working with apes would be the best job in the world.
The Films Of Youth
By Kevin Sharp
I wrote After Dakota as sort of a tribute to the classic teen movies of the 1980s, by filmmakers like John Hughes and Cameron Crowe. The films that really meant something to us back then were the ones less concerned with big jokes, or big parties, or showing as much nudity as possible (not that my friends and I objected to that last one, mind you). No, the ones that really mattered were the ones about people and about life.
In that tradition, here are ten teen movies I recommend – from the ‘80s and beyond – that share some of the same spiritual DNA as my novel.
1. Adventureland (2009)
Because of watching fireworks while listening to Crowded House, and not wanting to be anywhere else in the world.
2. Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982)
Because while it’s (justifiably) famous for Sean Penn’s Spicoli and Phoebe Cates in her red bikini, it’s stuffed with riches beyond them: Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” the baseball dugout, Mr. Hand’s housecall, the way it all walks the line between comedy and teenage tragedy.
3. Fish Tank (2009)
Because of Katie Jarvis’s lead performance, dancing, fighting, cursing, powering her way through life – until she realizes she may be powerless after all.
4. Ghost World (2001)
Because of bondage masks and record collections and summer art class.
5. The Last American Virgin (1982)
Because the title suggests a shallow romp like Porky’s, but this is actually about the struggle between loyalty to friends versus loyalty to an object of desire. (It also has maybe the most realistically bleak ending of any teen movie ever.)
6. The Myth of the American Sleepover (2010)
Because of riding bikes at sunset. Because of dancing on a pier. Because of abandoned tunnels. Because of all the possibilities in the waning days of summer.
7. Rushmore (1998)
Because the whole thing takes place in fall, the late season light lending a fabulous melancholy that both undercuts and enhances the storybook quality.
8. Say Anything… (1989)
Because our hero’s best girl friend tells him: “The world is full of guys. Be a man. Don’t be a guy,” and even the guys watching have to agree with her. Because our hero trades his heart to his dream girl in exchange for a pen, and all the guys watching would have done the exact same thing.
9. Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
Because how could I not include a John Hughes movie? (This, in my opinion, is his most underappreciated.)
10. Submarine (2010)
Because the protagonist says to his possibly-girlfriend: “I thought it would be nice to get some mutual interests, now that we've had sex, other than spitting and setting things on fire.”