Coming of Age Films


Graduation is slowly approaching. All of the sleepless nights and hard work we’ve put in over the course of these last four years will pay off when we walk up that stage and receive our diplomas. It is time for us all to embark on a new journey as we attend universities spread all around the country. We will all have different experiences, pursue different goals, and develop different relationships but what we will all have in common is the drive to succeed and further understand ourselves, to truly figure out who we are and where we belong in this massive, chaotic world. These movies explore that. Say Anything, The Graduate, American Graffiti, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off are all movies centered on the protagonists’ graduating school and attempting to figure out who they are and where to go next.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is the classic film that follows teenaged Ferris Bueller’s final skip day before graduating high school. In the film, he “borrows” his best friend’s father’s Ferrari and takes us all on an adventure through the streets of Chicago. In the end, the film explores many elements of adulthood and uncertainty but does so with a light tone and lots of laughs.

The Graduate takes a more somber look on life beyond graduation. Dustin Hoffman plays Benjamin Braddock, a recent college graduate with no ambition or goals for the future. The summer after graduation, he meets a much older family friend, Mrs. Robinson, and they have an affair until he meets and falls in love with her daughter. Mrs. Robinson does everything in her power to sabotage their relationship but love triumphs all. The film is famous for ending without a clear conclusion. Benjamin and Mrs. Robinson’s daughter take off together but with no clear direction as to where they are heading. That uncertainty is a feeling all too familiar with most graduates and one that is heavily explored in this film.

Say Anything is a romantic comedy that pits together two very different recent high school graduates, one the school valedictorian and the other an irresponsible army brat. Facing objections from the valedictorian’s father, she decides to end the relationship but soon comes to realize that there is more to life than just perfection. A wonderful story about two high school graduates who are very much in love to which I’m sure many will relate.

Finally, American Graffiti is the greatest coming of age film ever made. In American Graffiti, four teenagers spend one last night together before going away to college. This film does a spectacular job capturing the heart of America’s last age of innocence in life. All in all, despite what we see when we look outside our windows, despite how different our upbringings may have been, we are all confused and uncertain young adults heading into quite possibly the most life-changing periods in our lives.