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1980s Teen Comedies

Movies | By The Top 13 on May 11, 2010

When it comes to nostalgic movies that hold up to repeat viewings, few subsets of films are as cherished as 1980s teen comedies. For whatever reason, the mid-80s more than any other era cranked out more silly, funny, and subversive coming-of-age films than any other. Indeed, every one of these Top 13 80s Teen Comedies was released in a six-year period between 1982 and 1988. Keep in mind that this list is limited to comedies only. So if you're wondering why a more dramatic iconic 80s teen movie isn't here, that's your answer (we'll count down the top dramas in a later list).

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Ferris Bueller's Day Off

1

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

1986

John Hughes' teen comedy masterpiece, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, remains a cultural touchstone almost 25 years after its original release and easily takes the top spot on this list. The film has undoubtedly been a cash cow for all involved, given that it turned a profit on its opening weekend in theaters and has been in constant rotation on cable networks for decades. Featuring 80s teen stars Matthew Broderick, Jennifer Grey, Charlie Sheen, and Alan Ruck, this film's charm has only deepened over the years.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

2

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

1982

Adapted from then-Rolling Stone columnist Cameron Crowe's book about his experiences going undercover at a California high school, Fast Times at Ridgemont High launched or aided many significant film careers. In addition to being Crowe's first screenplay, the up-and-coming ensemble cast featured Sean Penn, Forest Whitaker, Nicolas Cage, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Eric Stoltz, and others. Penn's hilarious performance as stoner-surfer burnout Jeff Spicoli has yet to be topped.

Sixteen Candles

3

Sixteen Candles

1984

The second John Hughes film on this Top 13, this movie follows Sam Baker as her sixteenth birthday is overshadowed by her sister's wedding. Critically acclaimed and commercially successful, Sixteen Candles turned Hughes go-to actors Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall into enormous stars and featured the hysterical - but unquestionably racially insensitive - bizarre foreign exchange student Long Duk Dong.

Heathers

4

Heathers

1988

Heathers is a blistering black comedic indictment of 80s materialism and excess. Featuring strong performances from Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, the film became a cult classic after a weak box-office draw. The film continues to be popular to this day, and a sequel and television series adaptation have been discussed within the past year. Hopefully, that means we'll soon hear Big Fun's "Teenage Suicide (Don't Do It)" once again.

Weird Science

5

Weird Science

1985

Yet another John Hughes film (for those keeping score, the third so far), Weird Science is a story about two nerds (Anthony Micheal Hall and Ilan Mitchell Smith) who use their computers to create a beautiful woman (Kelly LeBrock) who helps improve their social standing. Our favorite performance in this film comes from Bill Paxton as the meathead older brother, Chet, who attempts to foil the boys' plans. The film spawned a TV series that ran for 88 episodes in the mid-90s.

Better Off Dead

6

Better Off Dead

1985

Starring John Cusack as Lane Meyer, a suicidal high school student, Better Off Dead is famous for its matter-of-fact depiction of a typical high school experience, spiced up with random bits of complete absurdity. From the ridiculous Howard Cosell impression by one of two Korean drag-racing brothers to the overaggressive paperboy who pursues Meyer throughout, this film is as funny as any on this Top 13. "I want my two dollars."

Teen Wolf

7

Teen Wolf

1985

Notable for producing some of the cheesiest and least realistic basketball sequences in film history, Teen Wolf follows Scott Howard (Michael J. Fox), a teenager whose body is going through some major changes. When he discovers he has a hereditary condition that makes him a werewolf, Howard becomes a sensation at his school. The film quickly spawned a sequel and a cartoon spin-off, and just last year, MTV announced it was adapting Teen Wolf into a series.

Can't Buy Me Love

8

Can't Buy Me Love

1987

Not unlike Weird Science, this film is the story of a nerd who uses his smarts to make himself popular, learning lessons along the way. Ronald Miller, played by Patrick "McDreamy" Dempsey, makes a deal with a cheerleader who pretends to be his girlfriend for a month in exchange for a $1,000 outfit. When things go south, he finds himself an outcast from both his popular and unpopular classmates. A remake entitled Love Don't Cost a Thing, starring Nick Cannon, was released in 2003.

One Crazy Summer

9

One Crazy Summer

1986

One Crazy Summer reunited director Savage Steve Holland and star John Cusack, who worked together on the previous year's Better Off Dead, which places three spots up on this list. And while this film was criticized for being a ripoff of their first collaboration, we think it stands nicely on its own. Cusack plays Hoops McCann, a recent high school graduate who spends the summer in Nantucket to write a cartoon love story for his application to the Rhode Island School of Design. Demi Moore plays McCann's love interest, Cassandra.

Just One of the Guys

10

Just One of the Guys

1985

This relatively raunchy gender-bending tale follows Terry Griffith, a pretty high schooler who feels like she isn't taken seriously as a student journalist because of her good looks. After being denied a prestigious journalism scholarship, she enrolls at a rival high school as a boy and hilarious antics and life lessons ensue. Billy Jayne is hilarious as Terry's little horny, obnoxious brother, Buddy, and Karate Kid villain William Zabka delivers as a bodybuilding bully.

Pretty in Pink

11

Pretty in Pink

1986

This romantic comedy is the fourth and final film on this list written by the legendary John Hughes. Pretty in Pink stars (once again) Molly Rindwald as Andie, the girl from the other side of the tracks who falls for Blaine, a popular rich kid played by Andrew McCarthy. Jon Cryer provides comic relief as Andie's friend, Duckie, a now-iconic 1980s movie character. Notably, both Anthony Michael Hall and Robert Downey Jr. turned down the part of Duckie, and Ringwald was not the first choice for Andie; she took the part after it was turned down by Justine Bateman and Jodie Foster.

Porky's

12

Porky's

1982

Largely responsible for hornball teenage sex comedies like American Pie, Porky's follows a group of Florida high school students in the 1950s on a quest to lose their virginity. Infamous for a scene in which the boys peer in on the showers in the girl's locker room, this raunchy comedy features plenty of nudity. When adjusted for inflation, Porky's is the highest grossing Canadian film of all time both domestically and internationally; it brought in over $100 million in its US box office run alone, making an enormous profit over its $4 million budget. No wonder they made two sequels.

Class

13

Class

1983

This overlooked early 80s classic about boarding school roommates Franklin (Rob Lowe) and Jonathan (Andrew McCarthy) veers into dramatic territory as the plot unfolds and Jonathan unknowingly sleeps with Franklin's mom, Ellen (Jacqueline Bisset). Despite the tension that ensues, the film manages to remain light-heartedly funny. While Lowe was already relatively established at the time, having just starred in the drama The Outsiders, this film was the debut for many notable 1980s actors, including McCarthy and John Cusack.

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Comments Leave a comment

rjasonf 

I'm sorry, without "The Breakfast Club," this list is invalid

10:26 AM   May 11, 2010

jason ★★

The Breakfast Club is not a comedy.

10:30 AM   May 11, 2010

brian 

Let's get this out of the way - Breakfast Club and Say Anything are NOT comedies.

10:33 AM   May 11, 2010

rjasonf 

I would definitely disagree. It's got some of the funniest quotable lines of any movie from that period and the humor stands up today.

10:35 AM   May 11, 2010

rjasonf 

just because I'm a contentious bastard, I will note that on Netflix, it's listed as a comedy, albeit in the subcategory of dark humor or black comedy, On amazon, it's both a top seller in Teen comedies and Coming of age Dramas, and on buy.com, one version of the DVD is in comedy and one is in Drama. Looks like nobody know how to categorize it. Probably could have put it on both lists

2:21 PM   May 11, 2010

stillathreat ★★

I hardly think that invalidates the list. Clearly, a choice was made that Breakfast Club is a drama. Accept it.

2:43 PM   May 11, 2010

jason ★★

But, as noted below, both IMDb and Wiki have it as a straight drama (and IMDb is not shy about throwing a comedy tag on things). Clearly an argument can be made that it should count as a comedy but it cannot be denied that it's primarily a drama. Right?

4:35 PM   May 11, 2010

Caseydog 

National Lampoon's Vacation, Uncle Buck, The Breakfast Club, and The Princess Bride have to be on the list.

10:39 AM   May 11, 2010

jason ★★

Those are all good 80s comedies or 80s teen movies. This is a list of 80s teen comedies.

10:41 AM   May 11, 2010

KungFuJay ★★

Someone has a problem with reading comprehension.

11:01 AM   May 11, 2010

Caseydog 

I think the first three are clearly both teen and comedies. I guess Princess Bride would not fit. Is a teen movie a movie with only teens in it? Can comedies not be funny? Give it a rest clowns.

1:26 PM   May 11, 2010

jason ★★

Every movie on this list is about high school students. In comparison, there is no basis for saying Vacation or Uncle Buck are "teen" movies - their main characters are adults. They're not even close. The Breakfast Club is clearly an 1980s teen movie, but it's a drama (or so say IMDb and Wikipedia). I like all the movies you named, but that's not the point.

1:38 PM   May 11, 2010

ajay ★★

Better Off Dead is the greatest. Do you have idea what the street value of this mountain is?

11:41 AM   May 11, 2010

johndoeaa 

Why isn't Stand By Me on this list?!

Oh yeah, not a teen movie. Or a comedy.

9:43 PM   May 12, 2010

blix 

breakfast club is as much of a comedy as heathers

5:37 PM   May 17, 2010

abc123 

This list is invalid to any teenager of this time and age! Everything on the list is either never heard of or just plain stupiddd with the exception of number one ferris day off which is truly a classic even for todays teens! The breakfast club is one of todays favs. 10 things i Hate about you, A walk to remember, Adventures in babysitting, Brink, The water Boy, Rudy, Clueless, crossroads, Dirty Dancing, Dont tell mom the Babysitters dead, Gracies Choice, Sixteen and Pregnant, Odd girl out, A crime of passion, or American Pie, ring a bell?

9:12 PM   Nov 20, 2011

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