Bethia Atkinson debates whether it’s time that Hollywood grows out of the ‘coming of age’ film frenzy.
We all know them and we all either love them or hate them. But the truth be told, we cannot escape the inevitable onslaught of ‘coming of age’ ﬁlms that pounds our screens each year. From the stereotypical young adult dystopian ﬁlms that seem to force ‘teenagers’ into becoming adults because of their circumstances, to an exploration and discovery of humankind and how we exist within it.
There are many underrated ﬁlms and plenty that are perhaps overrated. Yes, most women in their 20s and hopefully late teens will be able to name at least one Mean Girls quote and the hype that surrounded Boyhood was incredible. But what about the gems that are 1997’s A Walk To Remember or, if you want to time hop even further back, 1978’s Grease with a young John Travolta.
Many a musical ﬁlm seems to centre on the coming of age of the young population. See Grease once more and I raise you the High School Musical trilogy, Hairspray and Dirty Dancing. On the other end of the scale you see more haunting tales such as Ender’s Game, The Perks of Being A Wallﬂower and Good Will Hunting appearing on our screens over the years. Even now, classic coming of age ﬁlms are still making their mark, as stage adaptations of The Breakfast Club, entitled ‘Stereotypes’, and Dead Poets Society, entitled ‘Carpe Diem’, are making their way into the T3 Drama Festival this week (28 and 30 May respectively in Thornlea Studios), further exemplifying the mark these classic ﬁlms have had even nearly 30 years after their release.
Perhaps what makes them such a hit with audiences is their relatable nature. Perhaps not all of us have skived oﬀ school, stood on our desks in deﬁance of the headmaster, burst into song in the middle of the cafeteria or existed in a dystopian future where everything seems to suck, but perhaps it is something we have thought about. Recurring themes of deﬁance, exploration of oneself and surroundings and a desire to make a diﬀerence are things that many of us recognise and identify with.
Whatever it is that has made any generation fall in love with the genre, it is undeniably one that will continue with its successes, and perhaps failures. They are maybe even the most quotable of any ﬁlm genre, and the pearls of wisdom that may just make an appearance at one point or another remain the thing that lives long beyond the ﬁlm itself. A captive audience, motivational and perhaps inspiring plotlines and always a handful of decent actors, coming of age ﬁlms retain their popularity. It looks like Hollywood won’t be growing out of this craze anytime soon.