Teenage Movie Review

Part documentary and part film essay, this movie mixes fact and fiction to explore the concept of the teenager, which didn't exist before World War II. It's fascinating to learn how the idea emerged, and how understanding it has fundamentally changed society. But the film remains resolutely superficial in its approach to history, only briefly dipping beneath the surface right at the very end.

Up until the early 20th century, Western society was made up of adults and children, with nothing in between. But child labour laws changed that, giving young people a taste of freedom and responsibility that became even more important during two world wars and the Great Depression. Rebellious attitudes surged in swing music, and even though adults balked at the idea of giving teens any real independence, the New York Times made it official in 1945 with the publication of a Teen-age Bill of Rights.

All of this is informative and interesting, but filmmaker Wolf interweaves the archival movies with footage he has created in a vintage style. And we can tell something isn't quite right: the character profiles are clearly fictionalised, which makes us wonder how much of the movie we can believe. It certainly doesn't help that these fake young people are token figures: a partying British socialite, a young black American, a member of the Hitler Youth. No matter how much they tell us about the times and places, they remain purely artificial creations.

The film's narration also feels oddly invented. Spoken in the voices of various teens, it catches our attention because it reflects aspects of life we can identify with, with variations of the youth experience over the years. But nothing here is remotely revelatory: throughout human history, adolescents have felt out of place, yearning for purpose in life and a sense of their own importance in the world. Oddly, Wolf never finds anything that suggests that "teenage" is a new concept at all. And his only intriguing discovery, that post-war teens started a rebellion that ran through the 1960s to Tienanmen Square, is only barely touched on even though it's the first original idea in the whole movie.

Cast & Crew

Director : Matt Wolf

Producer : Ben Howe, Kyle Martin

Starring : , , , Ben Rosenfield, Jessie Usher, , Syrie Moskowitz, Malik Peters


Comments

Teenage Rating

" Weak "

Rating: PG, 2013

Editors Recommendations

President Barack Obama And Wife Michelle Honor Late DJ Frankie Knuckles In Open letter

President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, have paid tribute to the late Chicago DJ...

President Barack Obama And Wife Michelle Honor Late DJ Frankie Knuckles In Open letter

We Still Don't Know When Letterman Is Leaving "Late Show" And Neither Does Stephen Colbert, Apparently

Stephen Colbert will be taking the reigns of the Late Show from David Letterman in 2015...

We Still Don't Know When Letterman Is Leaving

Neil Patrick Harris Rants At Fan During 'Hedwig' Show, But Was In Character The Whole Time

The 40 year-old actor's recent Broadway performance of 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch'...

 Neil Patrick Harris Rants At Fan During 'Hedwig' Show, But Was In Character The Whole Time

Moogfest 2014 Gets To The Heart Of Electronic Music With Shows From Kraftwerk And Pet Shop Boys

Moogfest begins in just a few short hours; here's what you have to look forward to.

Moogfest 2014 Gets To The Heart Of Electronic Music With Shows From Kraftwerk And Pet Shop Boys

Snoop Dogg Gives Brian Williams' Rap Of 'Gin And Juice' The Thumbs Up

Don't worry Brian Williams, Snoop Dogg doesn't mind your questionable rendition...

Snoop Dogg Gives Brian Williams' Rap Of 'Gin And Juice' The Thumbs Up

Tori Spelling And Dean McDermott Work Out Their Issues In New Promo For "True Tori"

Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott’s marital troubles are no secret, thanks to their reality...

Tori Spelling - Tori Spelling And Dean McDermott Work Out Their Issues In New Promo For

Iggy Azalea: Fans sexually assaulted me at shows

Iggy Azalea was forced to quite crowd surfing after allegedly being sexually assaulted by fans...

Iggy Azalea - Iggy Azalea: Fans sexually assaulted me at shows

From Bruno Mars To Lady Gaga: Ten Celebrities Who Have Changed Their Names

What’s in a name? Well for some celebrities things might have been very different if they...

From Bruno Mars To Lady Gaga: Ten Celebrities Who Have Changed Their Names

Lindsey Vonn And Elin Nordegren Are "Close Friends" In Hatred U-Turn

Lindsey Vonn and Elin Nordegren have finally settled their differences after months...

Lindsey Vonn And Elin Nordegren Are


More recommendations