There’s something about teen movies of the 2000s that everyone can relate to, no matter how old you are. When you’re actually a teenager, those movies can feel like they directly apply to your life. When you’re older, it’s fun to rewatch them and relive the good old days. In short, teen movies in general are for everyone, and they never really go out of style. Just look at the success Netflix has had with To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.
But the 2000s were probably the best time for teen movies. Even the bad 2000s teen movies were so bad they were good and seriously entertaining to watch. The teen movies of that decade were simply iconic, and looking back on them can be nostalgic in the absolute best way. That said, there were a few teen movies from the 2000s that could only be described as the worst, and then there were some that were the best.
Best: A Cinderella Story is one teen movie of the 2000s that still holds up today
Does anyone scream peak 2000s like Hilary Duff? Doubt it. The actress and singer dominated the entertainment scene throughout the 2000s, first with her hit Disney Channel show Lizzie McGuire and then with all the movies in which she starred. But one Hilary Duff movie stands out from the rest, and that is 2004’s A Cinderella Story. Not only does the film feature Duff at her best, but her romantic interest in the movie is none other than 2000s teen heartthrob Chad Michael Murray.
Of course, there are plenty of great reviews of A Cinderella Story out there, in case you need some more convincing that it’s one of the best teen films of the 2000s. “I thought this movie was a funny and a romantic chick flick,” one reviewer wrote on IMDb. “Hilary Duff is one of my favorite actresses and she plays a perfect Sam in this movie.” The Hilary Duff classic is beloved by many and for good reason.
Worst: New York Minute is a seriously forgettable 2000s teen movie
There is absolutely no shame in admitting that you loved the Olsen twins when you were younger. How could you not? They were adorable and funny, and they had a great film collection to their name. Each movie they made — from Passport to Paris to Holiday in the Sun — was cheesy, funny, and straight-up entertaining. However, there was one Mary-Kate and Ashley movie that was a total flop. That movie is New York Minute.
The 2004 film follows the twins, good girl Jane and her edgy sister, Roxy, as they go on a grand adventure in New York City, for two very different reasons. Honestly, the movie is ridiculous, and the reviews prove it. “Admittedly, in all this stupidity there are a couple of laugh out loud moments, but these do not make up for the fact that mediocrity is a poor replacement for talent and comic timing,” one critic wrote on The List. And they’re not wrong.
Best: There's a reason Mean Girls is a cult classic teen movie of the 2000s
Though the movie came out in 2004, Mean Girls is still popular with just about everyone. The comedy from Saturday Night Live’s Tina Fey that’s based on the book Queen Bees and Wannabes is equal parts hilarious and smart. On top of that, the cast is amazing and the movie had some of the best one-liners in film history (remember “you can’t sit with us!”?).
The movie follows Cady Heron as she settles into life at a new school — her first time in public school. Cady soon finds herself emerged in the world of “The Plastics,” where gossip, lies, and bullying reign supreme. Mean Girls teaches an important lesson, and it does so with plenty of humor. As one critic wrote on TimeOut.com, “Happily, Fey and [director Mark Waters] gently tweak the studios’ usual high-gloss caricature of adolescence and aim for acutely hilarious and surprisingly empathic sociology.”
Mean Girls is a classic, and, because the film is so beloved, there’s even a day to celebrate it — Mean Girls Day.
Worst: How did the 2000s teen movie Aquamarine even get made?
Poor Aquamarine. The film is really not that good at all. The 2006 movie is about two best friends, played by actress Emma Roberts and singer Joanna “JoJo” Levesque, who discover a mermaid one morning after a storm blew into their beach town. Yes, a mermaid. With a tail and everything.
Of course, the movie, which features Sara Paxton as the titular mermaid, is full of the typical teenage drama and angst. There’s a town hottie, a group of mean girls, and an overprotective father who just so happens to be able to create storms at sea. Normal stuff.
Sure, the movie is entertaining, but at what cost? One BBC critic wrote, “For supervising grownups, its giddy leanings will induce seasickness.” It might not be worth your time, but Aquamarine was definitely an interesting teen movie from the 2000s.
Best: Jennifer Garner reigns supreme in 2000s teen movie 13 Going on 30
Even though the 2004 rom-com classic 13 Going on 30 mostly features Jennifer Garner’s character, Jenna Rink, in her 30s, it’s still a great teen flick. Why? Because Jenna is still a 13-year-old, but she’s just stuck in a 30-year-old’s body. The movie has romance, friendship, humor, and plenty of nostalgia. It’s a great lesson for teenagers who are in a rush to grow up, and the 2000s teen movie features a great cast as well. Besides Jennifer Garner, 13 Going on 30 also has Mark Ruffalo and Judy Greer bringing their A-game.
There are plenty of fun moments in the movie, and it’s overall pretty heartwarming. In addition to the great cast, 13 Going On 30 also has a great plot, something a critic in The Washington Post noted. “If 13 Going on 30 isn’t exactly original, it’s still reasonably cool, thanks to Garner’s uninhibited portrayal of a nerd trapped in a Sex and the City body, and to the inspired casting of Mark Ruffalo as the grown-up Matt.” Truly, 13 Going on 30 is one of the best teen rom-coms ever, and that’s a fact.
Worst: 2000s teen movie Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen is like a poor woman's Mean Girls
While Lindsay Lohan may be talented and her work in Mean Girls top-notch, the same can’t be said for the often-forgotten Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. The 2004 movie centers on Lohan’s character, Lola, as she adjusts to life at a new high school after her mom moved the family out of New York City. As the title would suggest, Lola is a bit of a drama queen, and all of her antics are way over the top.
Basically, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen is a poor woman’s version of Mean Girls, and it’s really not worth the watch if you haven’t seen it yet. There is legitimately a scene in which Lola fantasizes that she’s Marilyn Monroe. Yep. A critic from The Washington Post called it “a movie that — even by Disney’s formulaic standards — is about as cut and dried as the phone book,” and that’s pretty spot-on.
Best: John Tucker Must Die is a 2000s teen movie that's all about the girl power
For some reason, teen movies from the 2000s were very big into revenge and taking down the mean girl or guy. Enter John Tucker Must Die. The 2006 film — which is seriously hot for a movie about high schoolers — follows four unlikely friends as they attempt to exact vengeance on John Tucker, who tried to date three of them at the same time. The titular character was definitely a jerk, and the actor who played Tucker, Jesse Metcalfe, opened up about how his bad qualities were what made the movie. And he’s not wrong.
In an interview with Glamour, Metcalfe said, “If I changed John Tucker and corrected the character, there wouldn’t have been a movie.” He makes a good point.
A New York Post critic gave a great synopsis of John Tucker Must Die, saying, “As tasty as a quart of s’mores, John Tucker Must Die is a slumber-party classic that belongs on the same shelf as Bring It On and 10 Things I Hate About You.” The movie is smart, funny, and totally iconic.
Worst: 2000s teen movie Crossroads just didn't impress
Back in 2002, Britney Spears reigned supreme, and so it was only natural that she would star in a teenage road trip flick, complete with a dive-bar karaoke scene. To be fair, Crossroads could have been a great movie, and the karaoke scene is still iconic. However, the 2002 movie has some pretty big issues. It starts as a light chick flick about three old friends, Lucy, Kit, and Mimi, reuniting to take a cross-country road trip. That soon changes as they head to Los Angeles with one of the girls, Mimi, five months pregnant.
While Crossroads does have great moments of female friendship and empowerment, it’s also kind of depressing. It’s revealed that Mimi was assaulted by Kit’s boyfriend and, right after, she falls down the stairs and suffers a miscarriage. It’s super dark, and, because of the ridiculousness of the movie, it was even featured on an episode of the How Did This Get Made? podcast.
One reviewer wrote on USA Today, “Oops, she’s really done it this time. That chirpy songbird Britney Spears has popped up with more mindless drivel.” Basically, it’s a flop.
Best: Saved! is a genius satirical teen movie of the 2000s
Satire was at its best in the 2000s, and teen movies may have done it better than anyone else. Saved! could just be the best example of religious satire, and the fact that it’s about a Christian high school makes it genius. The movie concentrates on high school senior Mary Cummings, whose boyfriend confesses to her that he’s gay. Mary tries to convert her boyfriend by having sex with him, and she ends up pregnant.
Saved! is seriously brilliant in the way that it handles both religion and high school politics. The cast is top-notch, with Mandy Moore and Macaulay Culkin giving some of their best performances. There are Christian mean girls, a hypocritical pastor, and an unpredictable-yet-kind outcast. Saved! has it all. “Saved! is a minor work, yet it has a teasing lilt to it, and to make it at all took courage and originality,” one reviewer wrote in The New Yorker, and that might be the best description of the 2004 movie out there. Saved! Is definitely worth a watch… and a re-watch, to be honest.
Worst: Amanda Bynes is great in What A Girl Wants, but the 2000s teen movie isn't
It’s no secret that Amanda Bynes was one of the great treasures of 2000s teen movies and TV shows. The actress is hilarious in anything she’s in, and she’s great at character work. Unfortunately, her 2003 movie What a Girl Wants wasn’t really deserving of Bynes’ talent. Even though Bynes is great in the movie, the plot and a few of the characters aren’t on par.
In the film, Bynes plays Daphne Reynolds, a teenage girl who is obsessed with a father she’s never met. So, one day, she gets up the courage to go to London and find him, but, when she arrives, she learns her father isn’t just a lord — he’s also running for Parliament and is engaged to another woman who has her own teenage daughter.
Unfortunately, the movie is just not interesting, and it’s full of ridiculous moments. According to one review in The Wall Street Journal, “What a Girl Wants plays like a TV cartoon, not even a sitcom, and makes little sense on its own terms.” In short, it’s just plain bad.
Best: Bring It On is an iconic teen movie of the 2000s
Kirsten Dunst took the stereotypical ditzy cheerleader to a whole new level with the 2000 cult classic Bring It On. The movie may be about a group of cheerleaders determined to win the national championships after their former captain graduates, but it has so much more going for it. Dunst’s character, Torrance Shipman, takes over the Rancho Carne Toros as captain and soon learns that their former leader had been stealing cheer routines from a neighboring, inner-city high school team, the East Compton Clovers.
The movie is fun to watch for the cheer routines, which are admittedly cool, as well as for the cast. Dunst takes center stage, but Gabrielle Union, who plays the captain of the Clovers, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Eliza Dushku are total stars as well. Regarding the movie, a New York Times critic said, “The fact that a bouncy teenage sports comedy can even gesture toward serious matters of race and economic inequality is pretty impressive, as is the occasional snarl of genuine satire.” Definitely check out this 2000s teen movie!
Worst: Emma Roberts' Wild Child was a ridiculous teen movie of the 2000s
Emma Roberts is a talented actress, and she has been a staple in Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story franchise. But before she really made it big, she starred in a few 2000s teen movies that were less than fantastic. In Wild Child, Roberts played spoiled rich girl Poppy, who is sent to a British boarding school after her father has had enough of her antics. The 2008 movie clearly didn’t have a huge budget, but the film is one of the worst 2000s teen movies for other reasons.
Featuring stereotypical teen movie scenes with mean girls spouting lame insults and girls crushing on someone totally off-limits, Wild Child isn’t very wild at all. In fact, it’s almost boring. Which is just what one review in the Independent pointed out. “Gouging one’s eyeballs with a chopstick would be more fun than watching this crummy tween comedy about a Californian princess…” the review stated. As talented as Roberts is, Wild Child isn’t her best work.
Best: 2000s teen movie Freaky Friday teaches an important lesson with humor
Not every remake of a movie is worth watching, but the 2003 adaption of the 1976 classic Freaky Friday is pretty great. The cast is incredibly talented, with Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis playing the disgruntled mother-daughter duo, and Chad Michael Murray does what he does best: exist as a teen heartthrob.
But Freaky Friday has more than a great cast going for it. The movie also has a great storyline that ends up teaching a pretty important lesson. The relationship between a teenage girl and her mother can be filled with lots of tension, and Freaky Friday shows that trying to understand each other’s perspectives is a great place to start in repairing that relationship. This movie is hilarious and heartwarming, and it’s a total upgrade from the 1976 version, something that Evening Standard noted. This version is much better, largely thanks to a sharper script and the performances of Curtis and Lohan.
Freaky Friday is a great teen movie, but it’s also great for the whole family — something that’s a rare find.
Worst: The Perfect Man was a teen movie of the 2000s that made no sense
As iconic and incredible as Hilary Duff is, her 2005 movie The Perfect Man was a total snooze fest. The film has a talented cast, including Duff, Heather Locklear, Chris Noth, and Caroline Rhea, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good movie. Duff plays Holly Hamilton, an angsty teenager who is sick of her mom’s bad luck with men constantly meaning they’re on the move. So, when they move again, Holly decides to do something about it and make up the perfect man for her mom.
Holly creates a fake man who sends her mother flowers, love letters, and more in an attempt to show her mom how much better she can do than the losers she usually dates. Naturally, Holly finds herself in a tough spot when her lie begins to unravel, and, unfortunately, it’s just not that interesting to watch. One reviewer from BBC noted, “Everything bad about teen chick flicks is encapsulated in The Perfect Man.”
There are plenty of great Hilary Duff movies to watch, but The Perfect Man isn’t one of them.
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