Age-appropriate and woke: teen comedies to watch with a 10 year old?
July 24, 2021 2:25 PM   Subscribe

Looking for suggestions of GOOD PG teen comedy movies to watch with my tween daughter. So many of the classics from the 80s and 90s and 00s that I remember fondly are so strikingly "problematic" on the re-watch. Would love to hear your suggestions of any that are good quality and bring the lols, but not offensive!

I HATE watching kids movies, and my daughter is at an age where she is enjoying teen comedies, which is great cos it is something we can watch together. It's hard to find good ones that meet a discerning modern mum's criteria... I don't want her to get the same shitty messages that I got from teen movies about gender roles and ways you can expect to be seen and treated as a girl.

Sexism can be obvious or subtle, and I want movies that have strong female characters and don't present girls as one-dimensional eye candy.

So here are the conditions:

GOOD (watchable for a discerning adult ;)
Not sexist
Not racist
Not homophobic
No sexual content (some innuendo or allusions ok...)
Not violent

Some of the ones from the past that we have watched were a real disappointment, eg

- I remember loving 10 Things I hate about You and apart from the great chemistry between Heath and Julia and the scene where Heath's character sings to her in the grandstand, it contains a lot of sexist tropes and was generally disappointing. Coulda been so much better.

- Clueless on the other hand, was way better than I remembered: funny, charming and not offensive (good character growth, female perspective, good variety of character types and worldviews - impressive for the mid 90s right?)

- Freaky Friday was so entertaining and fun except for the awkward racism (Chinese sorcery / stereotypes)

- 13 Going on 30 was drippy but fun and minimally offensive

Would LOVE any suggestions you can offer. Any decade, doesn't have to be well known, I just wanna watch fun movies with my girl :) THanks!
posted by beccyjoe to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
First Wives Club came out when I was 11 years old and I have loved it ever since. Weirdly, I know several other women my age who have a deep fondness for this movie from our childhoods despite the story centering on the lives of middle aged women.

A League of Their Own is also a must watch.

Just because they don't star teenagers doesn't mean girls won't see themselves in movies that show women as whole people. Both of these definitely do.
posted by phunniemee at 2:53 PM on July 24, 2021 [7 favorites]

Best answer: To All The Boys I've Loved Before was pretty great and I'm pretty sure checks all of your boxes!

Also, I was obsessed with the Baby-Sitters Club when I was a kid and loved the movie from the '90s too. The reviews at the time were pretty solid; it was a very wholesome movie with the girls just... being friends and dealing with young girl stuff! I have no clue how watchable it is as an adult though, it might be a bit cheesy.
posted by thebots at 3:20 PM on July 24, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: The new Babysitters Club series is excellent. The characters are only 12 so that may not be old enough.

Love, Simon is really cute, as is the first To All the Boys I've Loved Before (I haven't seen the others). Both are wholesome but not super-conservative.

Mean Girls has some pretty cringey early 2000s throwaway racist lines but it also has a great gay character and some pretty good messages about young women and friend/romantic relationships. Bring it On is similar with throwaway homophobic lines but good overall message.

The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants has some implied sex but it's not explicit or raunchy at all.
posted by lunasol at 3:22 PM on July 24, 2021

I think Josie and the Pussycats holds up.

Any interest in series? Never Have I Ever on Netflix is current and great! Not sure what level of "sexual content" is allowable - there are no sex scenes but sex is definitely discussed. No worse, I think, than Cher's "you know how picky I am about shoes and those only go on my feet" in my opinion, but your mileage may vary.
posted by the primroses were over at 3:24 PM on July 24, 2021 [4 favorites]

Not a comedy but Hidden Figures might suit.
posted by calgirl at 3:42 PM on July 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Bring it On is similar with throwaway homophobic lines but good overall message.

Actually, never mind, I forgot there's a depiction of an actual sexual assault presented humorously, ugh!
posted by lunasol at 3:43 PM on July 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

I haven’t watched Time Bandits in a while, but loved it.
posted by theora55 at 3:48 PM on July 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

the world of Henry orient

the original hairspray with Divine

Dick with kirsten dunst and Michelle williams
posted by brujita at 3:57 PM on July 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Not quite teen comedy, but Legally Blonde, though not great with gay representation, holds up really well.
posted by Hypatia at 4:03 PM on July 24, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Mitchell’s vs. the Machines might kind of fit the bill here, even though it’s animated. There’s a ton about the teen daughter getting ready to go to college, wanting connection with peers who understand her, and feeling misunderstood by her dad. She’s queer coded and then there’s a reference at the end to her bringing a girlfriend home from college. I really loved it. (I mean, yes, it’s also about fighting the robot apocalypse, so if you want strictly high school drama, it’s not that.)

The best match I can think of for your question is Love, Simon, which is sweet and fluffy. It’s a high school rom com about a gay boy. I saw it a couple years ago, but I don’t think there’s anything objectionable.

School of Rock also comes to mind. I’ve rewatched it every few years and haven’t been disappointed. It’s about kids closer to your kid’s age, but I think it’s great for grownup viewers.
posted by theotherdurassister at 4:13 PM on July 24, 2021 [10 favorites]

brujita, original Hairspray FOREVER, not least because it shows gently how white people with good intentions can get high on their own supply. ("Tracy, our souls are black, though our skin is white...")
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 4:32 PM on July 24, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: It's a lot easier to find teenage girl action dramas (or romances/coming of age) than comedies, I think. Wednesday in Addams Family Values is pretty good, however, and the overall movie is a blast.

I agree that movies with funny women work pretty well in this context; Steel Magnolias, 9 to 5, Big Business were all funny and woman-focused movies I liked as a teen. Death Becomes Her if your kid can take a little mild horror.

Even recent movies may have regrettable stuff in them, and honestly that can just be a thing to talk about after.
posted by emjaybee at 4:39 PM on July 24, 2021 [4 favorites]

Easy A
posted by argonauta at 4:52 PM on July 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It got mixed reviews, but I am fond of the coming of age movie Flipped.

Ella Enchanted.
posted by gudrun at 5:25 PM on July 24, 2021


The new She-Ra
Gravity Falls

Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Spy Kids
Hocus Pocus
Nightmare before Christmas
Paddington 2
Strictly Ballroom
posted by nickggully at 6:03 PM on July 24, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone!!

Have already watched and loved:

The new SHe-Ra
School of Rock
The new Baby Sitters club series

Thanks for all the other suggestions. Really appreciate them and yes they dont have to be movies about teen girls for a young girl to enjoy :)
posted by beccyjoe at 7:38 PM on July 24, 2021

Best answer: Now and Then
Sister Act
Bend it Like Beckham
posted by wsquared at 7:44 PM on July 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The reboot of Saved By The Bell is very funny, and very woke.
posted by Umami Dearest at 7:47 PM on July 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Breaking Away
posted by Rash at 10:25 PM on July 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Can’t buy me love
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:52 PM on July 24, 2021

Best answer: If the new She Ra was a hit, try Kipo and the age of wonderbeasts. Incisive, funny, sweet, queer romance, non white principal characters, it does all that while also being very good.
posted by Hactar at 11:08 PM on July 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

Seconding the To All The Boys movies, they’re so sweet and actually great.
posted by lokta at 4:38 AM on July 25, 2021

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Freaky Friday
Room with a View is romantic but not sexual.
Likewise Pride and Prejudice
Bend it Like Beckam is amazing
posted by Enid Lareg at 9:04 AM on July 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

I was around 11 when The Addams Family came out, and I later watched it with kids I was babysitting who were about that age. They loved it, and it holds up for sure, and is really funny. Addams Family Values as well is solid.
posted by radioamy at 9:28 AM on July 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

Remember the Titans. It does deal with themes of racism and prejudice, and a tiny bit with the toxicity of heteronormativity. But in a positive way.

(I hear you - so many old movies have just enough crap to ruin them for me. They didn’t hold up well.)
posted by Knowyournuts at 1:46 PM on July 25, 2021

Response by poster: I love these responses, thank you all so much!
posted by beccyjoe at 3:07 PM on July 25, 2021

Avatar: The Last Airbender
Legend of Korra

(Both animated series that feature loads of strong female characters. These were so popular with our tweens at the time that we watched both twice.)
posted by little mouth at 3:32 PM on July 25, 2021

If there's a movie you LOVED at that age but now realize it hasn't held up well, don't necessarily dismiss it. Use it as a talking point. "I used to think this was TOTALLY romantic, but now I see where that behavior is actually gross stalking" or whatever. I think opening up with stuff like that makes kids understand we're all evolving.
posted by cinnamonduff at 8:05 PM on July 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: @little mouth yep she has watched both of those and absolutely loved them :)

@cinnamonduff - I know what you're saying and I like the idea, I'd do that more if she was older but explaining some of the more subtle sexism (the male gaze, the way women are depicted as too uptight if they are feminists, or too selfish if they have their own desires etc) is too hard for her to wrap her brain around. She's a smart kid but trying to conceptualise those things is a bit too complex for her and she kind of tunes out so the analysis is lost on her and then I worry that she's just left with the initial message... if that makes sense.
posted by beccyjoe at 2:01 PM on July 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

We just watched Enola Holmes with our 10-year old last week. The wife & I thought it was great, although the daughter found it somewhat hard to follow. It shows Edwardian England as a very sexist & hierarchical society (can you believe it?), and Enola is well ahead of her time. It leans slightly more of a drama than a comedy. I expect my daughter hasn't seen much other costume dramas and didn't really get what is a "House of Lords" or a "finishing school", etc. Mileage may vary in your household...I recommend it anyway.
posted by polecat at 2:20 PM on July 26, 2021

Oh, I just saw that you said "not violent". Enola Holmes does have some fighting and one death in it.
posted by polecat at 2:22 PM on July 26, 2021

When she gets a little older, the Netflix series Sex Education is sweet and woke and weird and raunchy and also is stealthily providing actual sex education!
posted by exceptinsects at 9:06 AM on July 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

Just watched Finding 'Ohana, a Netflix original, with the 10-year-old, and it went well. It hits a lot of the beats of Goonies, but strips out all of what was offensive about that movie and makes all of the main characters native Hawaiians. No violence except for some brief comical sword fighting to illustrate how the modern-day characters speculate things went down with some pirates centuries ago. Also borrows some beats from Indiana Jones but ends up with a strong message that tomb raiding is capital-W-Wrong. It's clearly aiming to be a tween movie, but as an adult I found it pleasant enough.
posted by polecat at 9:17 PM on October 22, 2021

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