Coming-of-age films take us back to a time of youthful innocence, full of fun, heartbreak and honest… and sometimes dishonest mistakes. For lovers of the starry-eyed ragtag group of friends, or the high school senior finding their way through teenage life, here is a list of movies like Dazed and Confused. Dazed and Confused is a coming-of-age film that was released in 1993.
It features a large ensemble cast, most of whom would become huge stars in the future, like Ben Affleck, and Matthew McConaughey, among others. The movie follows a group of high school students living in the 70s, who are having their last day of school, as they try to deal with the ups and downs of adolescence and the transition into adulthood. The film explores themes such as friendship, fitting in, drug use, and sexuality, themes that would be very familiar to coming-of-age film fans.
List of Movies Like Dazed and Confused
1. Sixteen Candles (1984)
Sixteen Candles is a rom-com film directed by John Hughes. It follows the story of Samantha, played by Molly Ringwald, who stars as a high school student who is on the brink of her 16th birthday but feels left out due to the wedding of her beautiful but somewhat self-absorbed sister, Ginny.
Similar to films like Dazed and Confused, Sixteen Candles is a coming of age film which takes place over a very short period of time, in this case, the whole plot spans about two days. The film follows Samantha’s story as she navigates the challenges of teenage life, love, crushes and family. If you enjoyed Dazed and Confused, then this classic is another movie for you.
2. Stand By Me (1986)
Adapted from Stephen King’s novel, The Body, into a movie, Stand by Me is an American coming-of-age film directed by Rob Reiner. The plot is centred on the journey of four boys who are in search of a missing boy named Ray Browner, in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Oregon in 1959. Similar to movies like Dazed and Confused, their journey teaches them lessons of camaraderie, death, friendship, and determination.
The film stars Wil Wheaton, the late River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell as the group of four. The classic film has been praised for its heartfelt writing and well-developed characters, melancholic soundtrack, and emotional scenes that will tug at your heartstrings, should you decide to watch.
3. Heavenly Creatures (1994)
Many of the stars of the 00s and 10s got their start on coming-of-age films like Dazed and Confused, and many of the other movies on this list. Heavenly Creatures keeps this theme going. This film, which is directed by Lord of the Ring Trilogy’s Peter Jackson, is a movie based on the true story of two teenage New Zealander girls named Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme, who grow very fond of each other in the 50s. The girls have vivid imaginations, which weirds people around them out so much that they are even later accused of killing Pauline’s mother.
The film stars Titanic’s Kate Winslet and Two and a Half Men’s Melanie Lynskey as Pauline and Juliet. The movie deeply, and quite interestingly explores themes ranging from creativity, childhood friendship, and obsession. If this combination of mystery, thriller and coming-of-age drama interests you, then Heavenly Creatures is definitely the one for you.
Also Read: Movies like The Hangover
4. Badlands (1973)
Father of another Two and A Half Men star, Martin Sheen is the lead character alongside Sissy Spacek in this 1973 crime and coming-of-age film, directed by Terrence Malick. The lead characters star as Kit and a 15-year-old Holly respectively, a young couple who embark on a killing spree across the American Midwest in the late 1950s. Badlands brings a sinister and not-so-innocent twist to the coming-of-age drama, as Holly relates the events that led to their capture.
Badlands is praised for its stunning cinematography, and haunting soundtrack, which includes some musical pieces by composer Carl Orff, and also for the performances of the lead actors. The film has been praised for its unique take on this subgenre and is a certified classic similar to movies like Dazed and Confused, as it was selected for preservation by the US National Film Registry. It is definitely one you should give a watch whenever you get the time.
5. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
A lot of coming-of-age films like to look back to the past to show you the teenage or childhood experience of these different eras. Picnic at Hanging Rock, directed by Peter Weirfits this bill, as it is set in 1900, and follows a group of Australian schoolgirls who go on a picnic to a volcanic formation in Victoria, Australia. However, several of the girls go missing during the picnic, leaving behind a mystery that seemed unsolvable.
The film makes great use of camera work and editing to create a gloomy atmosphere, which fits in well with the style the movie is going for. The movie shows a darker portrayal of the genre, compared to films like Dazed and Confused. But if you don’t mind being taken on this journey, then I recommend you check out this movie.
6. The Breakfast Club (1985)
The Breakfast Club is probably the most popular coming-of-age drama to ever be made, and still influences media today, with its influence seen in a show like Netflix’s Stranger Things. The movie follows the story of five high school teenagers, similar to movies like Dazed and Confused, and takes place during Saturday detention where these diverse groups of students are forced to spend the day together. Over the course of the day, the students start to gain a deeper understanding of each other’s personalities.
The film explores themes of friendship, identity, social class (even within the school), and the transition into adulthood. The Breakfast Club is a classic movie from the 80s and a must-watch for coming-of-age fans and general movie watchers at large.
7. Almost Famous (2000)
Almost Famous is a comedy-drama film written and directed by Cameron Crowe. The film follows the journey of a young journalist named William Miller as he joins a rock band on their tour to document their trip.
The film explores themes of friendship, family, love, and the pursuit of one’s dreams. Almost Famous is known for its exciting portrayal of the rock and roll lifestyle, and a callback to the rockstars of the 70s and the music scene in general. Almost Famous has received great reviews for its well-written dialogue and characters, as well as its touching storyline hence, it’s a must-watch for fans of movies like Dazed and Confused.
Also Read: Movies like Drive
8. Cinema Paradiso (1988)
Cinema Paradiso is a 1988 Italian film directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. The film is a coming-of-age story similar to movies like Dazed and Confused, set in the small Sicilian village of Giancaldo, Italy, and follows the life of a young boy named Salvatore as he grows up in the local movie theatre, run by the projectionist Alfredo. Salvatore under the guidance of Alfredo begins to develop a love for cinema.
The film is known for its nostalgic portrayal of the golden age of cinema and the magic of old movies. Cinema Paradiso has gained rave reviews worldwide for its touching cinematography, moving soundtrack, and super characterisation
9. Tex (1982)
Tex follows the titular character Tex McCormick, a teenage boy who is going through the pains of growing up and finding a purpose in his life. The film is set in the 1950s in a small town that Tex can’t wait to just get out of as soon as possible. Tex is an interesting option for movies like Dazed and Confused.
The film explores themes of friendship, family and a longing for purpose, and has been praised for its realistic portrayal of the lead-up from adolescence to early adulthood. The film has received praise for its well-written characters, and well-captured 1950s American setting.
10. Where the Day Takes You (1992)
Where the Day Takes You is a drama film directed by Marc Rocco that follows a group of homeless teenagers growing up and trying their best to survive in the tough streets of Los Angeles.
This film similar to movies like Dazed and Confused features an ensemble cast of then-up-and-coming actors, including Sean Astin, Balthazar Getty and the legendary Will Smith. It is praised for the realistic portrayal of street life, and received rave reviews from viewers and critics alike, especially for putting the lens on an oft-overlooked issue of homelessness.
Here are a few movies like Dazed and Confused that didn’t make the list that you can also check out:
1. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
2. Say Anything
3. The Karate Kid
4. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off