Coming of age movies are a genre unto themselves. And when well-made, pretty awesome to boot. Few things helped to define my coming of age better than music–coming out from under the shadow of what everyone else was listening to to find my own musical path. A lot of movies seem to do that with soundtracks filled with pop hits played in the background (Breakfast Club, anyone?). But my personal favorites (Pump Up the Volume notwithstanding) are the ones that integrate that path to success and self-discovery through an active investment in creating music. First off, let it be known that I left Pitch Perfect off the list for two very key reasons: it’s pretty well known, even if I do totally love it, and also, I like the sound of “Three” movies.
Without further ado, 3 movies you should probably see to be a complete human being.
Fat Kid Rules the World
A little independent gem of a movie, Fat Kid Rules the World was shot in Seattle by Matthew Lillard. It’s sweet, complex, and has some amazing performances in it. It captures the punk rock esthetic in ways I haven’t seen many movies do in quite some time. The friendship forged between our hero and the “cool” but troubled guitar player is incredibly compelling and passes along some great messages about what it means to be a friend, and building self-confidence without being preachy. Plus, Billy Campbell does an amazing turn as the father, supportive and protective at the same time.
I honestly have no idea why this movie wasn’t a hit. I can only blame a totally horrible marketing campaign and people who expected it to be a High School Musical riff. At it’s core, Bandslam is about a sweet, awkward kid with a mysterious past and a deep love of music. When he moves to a new town with his mom (the delightful Lisa Kudrow) to start over, he gets recruited to help manage a troubled high school rock band. The storytelling is spot on. The use of music, both as background soundtrack, and performed by the band itself is top notch. I own this one and have watched it a good half dozen times. I loan it out on occasion and have yet to find anyone who didn’t enjoy it. Oh, and the band? They perform all their own music, and they rock.
Josie and the Pussycats
Did you honestly think I was going to leave this movie off the list? Not nearly enough people saw this movie when it came out. The studio marketed it in such a way that the people who would appreciate the satire of the music industry would never see it, and the people who did see it weren’t in on the joke. Wickedly smart, frequently goofy, and with a top-notch soundtrack. Not only do you get the Josie songs, you also get the boy band DuJour with their hits “Backdoor Lover” and “DuJour Around the World.” Trust me. If you haven’t seen this movie, clear an afternoon, pop some popcorn, and settle in. While a bit less of a coming of age movie than the others, it does remain a solid movie about friendship. And music. And subliminal messages in our media.