What Happened to Coming-of-Age Movies?

I remember growing up watching movies like The Sandlot, and absolutely loving them. Period pieces about a group of kids just growing up and enjoying life. The plot didn’t really matter, it was more so about watching them mature. Lately, I’ve been thinking about movies like Sandlot, simple tales about a group of kids just living. Honestly, I couldn’t think of many. This made me wonder why there weren’t more movies like this. Maybe I’m forgetting something, but there were only a couple I could think of beyond Sandlot: Stand by Me, and My Girl.

Sandlot1_t8mQt

The Sandlot was narrated by Scotty Smalls in present day. Working as a baseball announcer, he talked about the summer of 1962, when his mother and stepfather moved into a new suburb. Smalls eventually made friends with the neighborhood kids who gathered everyday to play baseball in small field they called the sandlot. Awkward at first, Smalls is taken under the wing of Benny, the best player in the neighborhood. As the summer goes on, Smalls learns how to play the game, what a s’more is, and how chewing tobacco on a carnival ride is a bad idea. Eventually the kids must battle the dog beyond their lot simply known as “the beast” to get their Babe Ruth autographed ball back.

stand-by-me-cast1

Stand by Me is very much in a same vein as Sandlot, but a little more somber. The tale takes place over Labor Day weekend in 1959. Four friends hear about a dead body of a missing boy, hit by a train. About a days walk away, the four set out to see it. The main draw of the story is seeing the friendship between Chris Chambers (River Phoenix) and Gordie Lachance (Wil Wheaton). While there are many happy and fun moments throughout, Gordie is often plagued by the recent death of his older football star brother (John Cusack). There is a moment towards the end as Gordie breaks down and cries to Chris, saying how his dad hates him. Hits me hard in the feels every time.

my-girl

Finishing with the most tragic of the three, we have My Girl. In the summer of 1972, we have Vada Sultenfuss (I feel so sorry for anyone with either of those names), an 11 year old tomboy. Her father Harry (Dan Aykroyd), is a single parent and funeral director. The two don’t understand each other or get along very well. Her best friend is a nerdy, allergic to everything boy named Thomas (Macaulay Culkin). Sadly, Thomas dies after being stung by bees while he was trying to retrieve Vada’s mood ring she lost earlier. There was a sequel. I don’t remember if it’s any good.

While these films have their tragic moments, I still look back on them fondly. These are excellent coming of age movies that I think still hold up today. When I have my little hulklings one day, these are some of movies we’ll be watching. That and Toy Story 3. Basically I just want to make my kids cry.

What was your favorite coming-of-age movie? Any similars you can think of? Comment below, on Facebook, or Twitter! You can now see my Saturday Morning Cartoon posts, along with other great writings at The Two-Headed Nerd!

You’re killing me Smalls!” – I still say this. 

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