Chris Cotonou

What we can learn from the noughties teen movie

  • From Spectator Life
Image: Shutterstock

There’s a movie scene forever etched into the minds of young adults. It’s probably as vivid as our parents’ recollection of the moon landing, or Maxwell House ads. In American Pie, hopeless high-schooler Jim decides to copulate with an apple tart.

You don’t think he’s going to do it, but he does. And then, because the filmmakers know we’re on the ropes, they show us the mangled remains in the dog bowl.

It’s also a moment that truly embodies the ‘gross-out Teen Comedy’, Hollywood’s fleeting junk food binge that began with the release of American Pie in 1999 to Road Trip, 10 Things I Hate About You, all the way up to 2007’s Superbad. More in the bawdy tradition of Animal House or Porky’s than Breakfast Club.

You can love art house cinema made by Marxist Swedes. But you need junk food in your diet, too. And that was where ‘gross-out’ Teen Comedies came in.

The tropes became so familiar that a spoof film called Not Another Teen Movie was made. It poked fun at the cheerleaders, virgins, and fateful American Football games – often with a hunky, dumb quarterback leaving the final touch-down to chase the love of his life (quirky, shy) before she flies to art school in Paris. In between: profanity, poop jokes, and smut. Even as a teenager in England, I could relate to these American high schoolers. As an adult I feel pity for them (and some affection). Teen Movies are still funny to me, but for other reasons.

None of these films could be made today. Their basic premises would spark outrage from the bored Twitterati. One journalist writes, ‘You need only go back to the early 2000s to find movies that are sexist, racist, and homophobic… They seemed like a good idea at the time, but in hindsight are totally deplorable.’

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