Whether it is watching schoolteachers from another planet or men in black trying to
save this one, films marketed for teenage audiences take large chunks out of the box
office. But, when talking and conversing over the latest films in the schoolyard, few
people are enthusiastic about current releases. Granted, some films have achieved
legendary status in work and social environments. Twenty years later and Star Wars is
still recited, and perhaps even more so with the less seen but nonetheless cult classic
Life of Brian. Happy Gilmore and Billy Maddison are also definite contenders for the
Teenage Academy Awards.
"That's not to say that teenage audiences are a pack of
‘Date films’ are an important aspect of the teen industry. I recently
discovered that Pleasantville is an excellent date film - an uplifting and enjoyable
experience that stimulates its viewers and leaves cheerful afterthoughts. Unfortunately,
uplifting is not cool. Most teen's fetish over blood soaked offerings. British director
Guy Ritchie hit upon this notion with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, currently the
talk of the town due its Pulp Fiction wit and clever yet heartless scripting. Mel Gibson's
Payback is another piece that succeeds on these merits, offering what most teenagers want:
enjoyable but instantly forgettable viewing.
That's not to say that teenage audiences are a pack of morons. Of the occasional
‘mature’ films that we enjoy, perhaps none have spread as far and wide as James
Cameron's Titanic, another perfect choice for a date (romance, good-looking leads and a
sinking ship - what more could you ask for?). Titanic offered appealing ingredients to
teenagers - sex and tragedy. Those two factors are what also made the recent remake of
Romeo + Juliet so popular. Yes, teenagers do enjoy sex and violence in movies, but there
is something that appeals even greater - originality. Though many would argue that teens
flock to anything with S&V, box office records show that an original concept can carry more weight than anything else. The Matrix is one film that is being almost universally
enjoyed, due to its intriguing concept and spectacular action scenes. One of my good
friends told me that The Truman Show was one of the best movies he has ever seen, and it
is another great example of something different coming from the Hollywood assembly line.
It's disappointing that the teenage audience is often blamed for huge duds like
Godzilla (people tend to think that the only people who would watch a movie about a big
lizard are between the ages of 13-18). The film's absurdity and its boring characters were
just too much for the many (teen) people who saw it that I know, yet they were much more
willing to accept Starship Troopers. Perhaps the ability for a film to take the piss out
of itself is a good thing.
"Many ‘mature’ films have just as profound an
affect on teens as they do on adults."
Few people realize that many ‘mature’ films have just as profound an affect
on teens as they do on adults. When friends of mine occasionally veer away from mainstream
pieces, they brag about how good the independents are. After much persuasion, I was able
to convince a friend of mine to sit down and watch the American indie film, In the Company
of Men. He has never stopped thanking me since.
The way teenage films are advertised plays a large part in how much they succeed, which
is why independent films are rarely seen. Advertising for such films as The Matrix and
Armageddon plagued TV screens and newspapers, so much so that one feels obliged to see
them. Thus, when Saturday night comes round, squillions of teens line up to see
Hollywood's latest offering. There is a certain feeling that one must keep up with the
goss on the latest movies, if not just to talk about them at lunchtime. A big name actor
or two is sometimes enough to attract a large audience, but a fun theme that goes with it
is the icing on the cake. On these stakes, Analyze This and Face/Off are prime examples.
Big budget smashes might indeed be what many teenagers flock to, but it's the films
that offer something different that are remembered long after their first viewing. The
Matrix, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Rushmore are three recent films that have
offered something different, and have all been well received from both critics and
audiences. Hopefully in upcoming months, the Teenage Academy Awards will have an awesome
new line up of nominations.