The Best Teen Movies on Netflix (April 2021)

Relive the ups and downs of high school—from a safe distance

Teen movies have been making a comeback in recent years, especially on Netflix, but they've never really gone out of style. These films include Netflix originals along with some old-school picks and serve up everything you’d expect from the genre: heartache, romance, coming-of-age lessons, and the timeless tradition of parties without parental supervision.

01
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Concrete Cowboy (2020): Because Idris Elba on a Horse, That's Why

Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin in 'Concrete Cowboy'

Netflix

IMDb Rating: 5.1/10

Genre: Drama

Starring: Idris Elba, Caleb McLaughlin, Lorraine Toussaint, Jharrel Jerome

Director: Ricky Staub

Motion Picture Rating: R

Runtime: 1 hour, 51 minutes

This new drama from director Ricky Staub (Snow White and the Huntsman) takes a look at a little-known part of Black culture—urban cowboys who ride their horses on asphalt streets instead of dirt. Cole (Stranger Things' Caleb McLaughlin) is a 15-year-old boy from Detroit who's sent to live with his father Harp (Idris Elba) in Philadelphia. Harp is a part of Fletcher Street Stables, a (real-world) 100-year-old riding club that's often a refuge to troubled youth. Critics call the film an endearing and emotional father/son drama.

02
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Moxie (2021): A Film About Fighting Toxic School Culture

 Hadley Robinson in 'Moxie'

Netflix

IMDb Rating: 6.7/10

Genre: Comedy

Starring: Hadley Robinson, Lauren Tsai, Alycia Pascual-Pena 

Director: Amy Poehler

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 1 hour, 51 minutes

This teen comedy from Parks and Rec comedienne Amy Poehler stars Hadley Robinson as Vivian, a shy 16-year-old who decides to rebel against her school's toxic atmosphere by publishing an underground zine called Moxie. Her writing sparks a movement amongst the female students. While Poehler is relatively new as a film director, she's proven herself a talented comedic writer and actress, making this movie promising.

03
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Finding 'Ohana (2021): For Anyone Who Misses The Goonies

Owen Vaccaro, Alex Aiono, Lindsay Watson, and Kea Peahu in 'Finding Ohana'

Netflix

IMDb Rating: 6.1/10

Genre: Action, Adventure

Starring: Kelly Hu, Ke Huy Quan, Lindsay Watson 

Director: Jude Weng

Motion Picture Rating: PG

Runtime: 2 hours, 3 minutes

If you're a fan of movies where precocious teens go on an adventure for hidden treasures, you may want to spend a weekend watching Finding 'Ohana. It just might fill that Goonies-sized hole in your heart. The film is about two Brooklyn kids who go to Oahu to take care of their ailing grandfather and discover a pirate's journal that leads to a 200-year-old shipwreck. But, they also learn to appreciate their Hawaiian heritage along the way.

04
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Bombay Rose (2019): A Beautiful Animated Tale That Celebrates Love

The Indian animated film 'Bombay Rose'

Netflix

IMDb Rating: 6.0/10

Genre: Animation

Starring: Hanurag Kashyap, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Makrand Deshpande

Director: Gitanjali Rao

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 1 hour, 33 minutes

This beautifully animated Indian film is about a young dancer who escapes from child marriage and falls in love with an orphan. It's also a love story between two women in a country where their relationship was illegal until 2018 and the love of Bollywood. Based on actual events, Bombay Rose's three tales can feel a little disjointed, but it's a visual treat and an homage to the filmmaking that influenced it.

05
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The Half of It: A Hopeful Love Story

The Half of It on Netflix

Netflix

IMDb Rating: 6.9/10

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Starring: Leah Lewis, Daniel Diemer, Alexxis Lemire

Director: Alice Wu

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 1 hour, 44 minutes

When a lovesick football player named Paul begs loner Ellie to help him woo popular-girl Aster with a love letter, Ellie finds herself in a confusing love triangle.

This intelligent and sincere story tackles friendship and self-discovery and offers a texting-era twist on Cyrano de Bergerac-style love letters and mistaken identity.

06
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Lady Bird: The Best Depiction of Senior-Year Struggles

Still from Lady Bird

A24

IMDb Rating: 7.4/10

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts 

Director: Greta Gerwig

Motion Picture Rating: R

Runtime: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Christine (Lady Bird) desperately wants independence from her high school existence. Nothing seems to be going very smoothly—not her relationship with her mom, best friend, or first real boyfriend.

This film is a heartfelt look at the anticipation and uncertainty wrapped up in leaving high school behind.

07
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The Perks of Being a Wallflower: A Tribute to Healing Friendships

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Summit Entertainment

IMDb Rating: 8.0/10

Genre: Drama, Romance

Starring: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller

Director: Stephen Chbosky

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 1 hour, 42 minutes

This book-inspired drama follows introverted Charlie as he's starting high school. When seniors Sam and Patrick bring him into their social circle, he finds much-needed support and acceptance.

This sometimes heartbreaking story shines a light on how hard high school can be and the friendships that make it better. 

08
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Alex Strangelove: A Tender Identity Story

Alex Strangelove on Netflix

Netflix

IMDb Rating: 6.3/10

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Starring: Michael Abela, Daniel Doheny, Brendan Archer 

Director: Craig Johnson

Motion Picture Rating: TV-MA

Runtime: 1 hour, 39 minutes

Alex loves his girlfriend/best friend Claire but feels pressured to dial up the intimacy in their relationship. Then he meets a boy named Elliot at a party, and his understanding of his identity and relationship changes.

This heartwarming movie acknowledges the power of supportive friendships and self-acceptance.

09
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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: A Charming Teen Rom-Com for Fans of All Ages

To All the Boys I've Loved Before on Netflix

Netflix

IMDb Rating: 7.1/10

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Starring: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish

Director: Susan Johnson

Motion Picture Rating: TV-14

Runtime: 1 hour, 39 minutes

The setup: Lara Jean's young sister secretly mails the love letters she's written to five crushes. Lara Jean enlists the help of one letter recipient, Peter, to convince neighbor and crush Josh (and fellow letter recipient) that she and Peter are in a relationship and that she’s moved on.

If you’re a rom-com fan of any age, there’s plenty to love in this sweet movie with two follow-up installments.

10
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Superbad: A Raucous Yet Sincere Buddy Movie

Still from Superbad

Sony Pictures

IMDb Rating: 7.6/10

Genre: Comedy

Starring: Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

Director: Greg Mottola

Motion Picture Rating: R 

Runtime: 1 hour, 53 minutes

Seth and Evan are best friends focused on attending an epic graduation blowout rather than worrying about parting ways in the fall for college. That turns out to be nearly impossible to achieve—and fun to watch as they try.

While there are plenty of laugh-out-loud, raunchy moments, this high school party movie is a sincere nod to friendship.

11
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20th Century Women: An Artsy Coming-of-Age Story

Still from 20th Century Women

A24

IMDb Rating: 7.3/10

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Starring: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig

Director: Mike Mills

Motion Picture Rating: R

Runtime: 1 hour, 59 minutes

Mostly removed from high school scenes, this movie focuses on one teenage boy coming of age in late 1970’s Southern California with his progressive mother—who enlists the help of two other women to help parent and guide him. 

This movie captures cultural shifts of the moment and is a timeless narrative about the confusing nature of becoming an adult.

12
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Deidra & Laney Rob a Train: Real Struggle Lifted By a Little Levity

Deidra & Laney Rob a Train on Netflix

Netflix

IMDb Rating: 6.1 /10

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama

Starring: Ashleigh Murray, Rachel Crow, Lance Gray

Director: Sydney Freeland

Motion Picture Rating: TV-14

Runtime: 1 hour, 32 minutes

Deidra is the top student at school, but she's struggling to keep her family afloat while their mother is in jail. Lacking many options, she hatches a plan to start robbing trains so they can afford their mom’s bail.

It goes well at first but ultimately becomes a mad dash to keep things under wraps. This dark comedy is an underdog story with lighter moments worked into honest social commentary. 

13
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All the Bright Places: An Important Mental Health Conversation Starter

All the Bright Places on Netflix

Netflix

IMDb Rating: 6.5/10

Genre: Drama, Romance

Starring: Elle Fanning, Justice Smith, Alexandra Shipp

Director: Brett Haley

Motion Picture Rating: TV-MA

Runtime: 1 hour, 47 minutes

Violet and Finch start spending more time together while working on a school project about the wonders of Indiana. While they're both struggling in different ways, they look to each other for solace and hope for the future.

This story highlights the importance of finding support and looking out for one another—a meaningful message for all ages.

14
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17 Again: A Lighthearted Story About Second Chances

17 Again

Warner Bros

IMDb Rating: 6.4/10

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

Starring: Zac Efron, Matthew Perry, Leslie Mann

Director: Burr Steers

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Down and out (adult) Mike is given a second chance to return to his 17-year-old glory days and fix his life. The premise is zany but fortified by a sympathetic and charming performance from Zac Efron, who convincingly plays an adult trapped in a teenager’s body. 

15
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Dumplin’: Self-Acceptance for the Win

Dumplin' on Netflix

Netflix

IMDb Rating: 6.6/10

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Starring: Danielle Macdonald, Jennifer Aniston, Odeya Rush

Director: Ann Fletcher

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 1 hour, 51 minutes

When Willowdean enters a local pageant judged by her mother (and former beauty queen) as an act of protest against the pageant culture in her Texas town, she confronts insecurities that have been holding her back from truly accepting herself.

This feel-good flick celebrates individuality and features a Dolly Parton soundtrack.

16
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Enola Holmes: There’s a New Holmes Detective In Town

Enola Holmes on Netflix

Netflix

IMDb Rating: 6.6/10

Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime

Starring: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin

Director: Harry Bradbeer

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 2 hours, 3 minutes

When 16-year-old Enola's older brothers refuse to help her find their recently missing mother, she heads to London on her own to solve the mystery. This spirited caper will appeal to true mystery-loving Sherlock Holmes fans, or Millie Bobby Brown (from Stranger Things) fans alike.

17
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Can’t Hardly Wait: A Classic High School Party Comedy

Can't Hardly Wait

Sony Pictures

IMDb Rating: 6.5/10

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Starring: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ethan Embry, Charlie Korsmo

Director: Harry Elfont, Deborah Kaplan

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 1 hour, 41 minutes

At the ultimate end-of-high-school bash, every attendee has an idea about what the night and future will hold. The result is an entertaining mixed bag of goofy gags and awkward moments.

This late '90s teen movie is a nostalgic look back before everything went digital and introduced a few familiar faces just starting in their careers.

18
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Tall Girl: A Heartfelt Message About Confidence

Tall Girl on Netflix

Netflix

IMDb Rating: 5.2/10

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family

Starring: Ava Michelle, Griffin Gluck, Sabrina Carpenter

Director: Nzingha Stewart

Motion Picture Rating: TV-PG

Runtime: 1 hour, 41 minutes

Jodi is ashamed of her tall stature until she meets taller-than-her foreign exchange student Stig. Jody becomes more self-assured by the extra attention he offers but struggles to own her confidence without external validation.

In the end, this movie concedes that confidence can be challenging to own but that everyone has a right to it.

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