Stephen Chbosky’s adaptation of his own best-selling novel received widespread critical acclaim for its realistic depiction of teen life. The Perks of Being A Wallflower chronicles the life of a teenager Charlie and his journey through high school as he makes new friends. The coming-of-age drama also depicts his struggle with and overcoming post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you loved this one and are looking for more films in a similar genre, we have you covered. Here are 12 movies like The Perks of Being a Wallflower that’ll take you on an emotional rollercoaster, warm your heart and leave you with a smile.
1. The Breakfast Club (1985)
Considered to be one of the most influential movies of all time, John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club is a love letter to all high school loners. One of the striking features of this movie is how relatable the characters were. The overachieving geek, the quintessential loud-mouthed jock, the future criminal, the rich pretty-girl. All of them do exist, to some degree or another, in every classroom. But, Hughes goes a step further to create three three-dimensional characters out of these archetypes. They all change, in one way or another by the end of the film.
The Breakfast Club is one film you wouldn’t want to miss even if you’re not a fan of the 80s genre.
2. Dazed and Confused (1993)
Dazed and Confused follows a group of Texas teenagers during their last day of school in 1976. It featured a large ensemble cast of actors who were on the cusp of stardom like Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Adam Goldberg and Milla Jovovich.
Despite being a commercial failure, the film went on to attain the status of a cult film a few years down the line. It remains as a true reflection of American culture, evoking its liberating spirit. The soundtrack features tracks of prominent figure like Aerosmith and ZZ Top. Prepare to take a step back in time and be transported back to the magical 70s.
3. Rushmore (1998)
Wes Anderson’s Rushmore is a quirky comedy with a tender heart. Max Fischer is the quintessential high-school oddball. He gets bad grades, lacks social skills and has a tough time voicing his opinion. What happens when Max and another eccentric middle-aged millionaire fall in love with the same first-grade teacher forms the rest of the plot.
Rushmore might be centered around an overused plot, but it more than makes up for it with believable character development and a fantastic soundtrack. Max is not completely likable, but you end up rooting him for the end. His interactions with Bill Murray’s character are sure to put a smile on your face.
4. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s timeless The Taming of the Shrew, 10 Things I Hate About You might just be the best teen rom-com ever produced. On his first day at a new school, Cameron falls for Bianca Stratford. What stops Cameron from asking her out is her strict father’s condition that Bianca can only date if her sister, Kat does too. The catch is that Kat is ill-tempered, extremely unfriendly, and un-dateable. This prompts Cameron to seek the services of the resident bad boy, Pat to entice her. But, when it comes to matters of the heart, things rarely go according to plan.
10 Things I Hate About You features great performances across the board. Heath Ledger is charming as the ruffian with a heart of gold while Julia Stiles inhabits the role of a rebellious teenager. Joseph Gordon Levitt and Larisa Oleynik’s characters aren’t well defined as the other couple, but they still manage to make the most of it. With its share of extremely likable characters, this movie is sure to leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling.
5. Juno (2007)
Winner of a Best Original Screenplay Oscar, Juno opened at the Toronto Film Festival to a thunderous standing ovation. It tells the story of a tomboyish 16-year-old girl discovering that she’s pregnant. Unwilling to get an abortion, she decides to give up the baby to the perfect couple. But with time, she realizes that no relationship can ever be perfect. Juno features some great moments, like when Juno tells her boyfriend that he’s the coolest person she knows, without even trying. He replies that he’s actually been trying really hard.
All in all, Juno is a thoroughly entertaining coming-of-age story with a 21st century twist. It is also successful in delivering a balanced take on a sensitive issue like abortion.
Watch Juno on Amazon Prime
6. The Way, Way Back (2013)
Directed and co-written by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, The Way Way Back is a heartwarming teen comedy that is as poignant as it is funny. It tells the story of Duncan, a 14-year-old with a shaky self-image. Things only go from bad to worse when he has to spend the summer at his mother’s obnoxious boyfriend’s place. However, Duncan finds a kindred spirit in the form of Owen, the manager of Wizz World Water Park. Owen starts to take an interest in Duncan’s life and even gives him a job at the water park. As he starts to find acceptance among the other employees, Duncan slowly starts to open up. There’s even a hint of a smile on his face.
Liam James disappears in the role of Duncan and his earnest performance helps us identify with him. Sam Rockwell is pitch-perfect as the fun-loving park manager. With its fresh characters, The Way Way Back is a moving tale of self-discovery.
7. The Spectacular Now (2013)
An official adaptation of Tim Thorp’s novel of the same name, James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now is a welcome addition to the teen dramedy genre. Sutter, played by Miles Teller is a happy-go-lucky kid. He isn’t particularly worried about his future and believes in the philosophy of living in the moment. But, all that changes when he meets Aimee Finnicky, played by Shailene Woodley. The opposites start to learn from each other and soon enough, Sutter learns to confront his issues head-on. He stops complaining about his circumstances and comes to understand that his family is trying to do their best at providing for him.
While the cast is great, the real winner here is Scott Neustadter and Cameron Crowe’s script that makes us root for an unlikely protagonist.
8. Boyhood (2014)
Richard Linklater has an innate ability to capture an experience, a culture, a generation, and a life and translate it all into a film. With Boyhood, Linklater captures the journey of an individual from a young kid to a self-sustaining adult. He chooses to do this by filming part by part for over 12 years using the same group of actors. There wasn’t a full bound script in place and the plot points were improvised along the way. The fact that we get to see the characters age naturally makes the film all the more engaging.
Boyhood boasts of a fine cast comprising Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, and Lorelei Linklater. It’s a rare film, one that leaves you yearning for more, hoping you could stay with the characters and relish in their dreams and aspirations for a little while longer.
Watch Boyhood on Amazon
9. The Duff (2015)
Based on a 2010 novel of the same name, The Duff is a hilarious critique of the sidekick characters we often get to see in teen movies. Duff stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend which essentially describes kids who’re neither smart enough nor good-looking enough to start a high-school clique of their own. Bianca Piper is one such character whose best friends Jess and Lacey are significantly more popular than she is. Will her senior year of high school be any different?
The Duff is a witty teen comedy that makes a subtle statement about self-acceptance. It asks us to look inwards and completely embrace our inherent mediocrity. Watch out for Mae Whitman’s impeccable comic timing.
Watch The Duff on Amazon Prime
10. The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
Kelly Fremon Craig’s coming-of-age story tells the story of Nadine who’s trying to navigate her way through high school as the world around her continues to fall apart. Nadine’s always been somewhat of a social outcast but all that changed when she met Krista. The two forged an emotional bond and its relationship that’s gotten Nadine through trying times. But, things start to get a little complicated when Nadine’s overbearing brother Darian starts dating her best friend. This forces Nadine to abandon her friendship with Krista. Can Nadine still find a way to overcome the difficulties that life has to throw at her?
One of the biggest strengths of this film is that the characters are all fully formed individuals. It’s rare for a coming-of-age film to have such beautifully fleshed-out characters. The Edge of Seventeen is an endearing teen drama featuring one of Hailee Steinfeld’s best performances to date.
Where to Watch: Netflix
11. Ladybird (2017)
Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut is an angst-ridden tale of acceptance. Set in the city of Sacramento, we follow Christine (Saoirse Ronan) stumbling her way through senior year as she jumps out of moving vehicles and disrupts school assemblies. She’s desperately trying to escape her hometown and get away from her controlling mother (Laurie Metcalf). This dynamic between mother and daughter takes center stage and makes one ponder about the impact of the environment on a growing individual still struggling to find their identity.
All in all, Ladybird is a bittersweet coming-of-age tale that effectively manages to stay away from genre conventions.
12. The Half Of It (2020)
Alice Wu’s second feature film The Half Of It is a beautiful story about love, friendship, and longing. The Half Of It follows Ellie Chu, an introverted straight-A student who agrees to help out her friend Paul capture the attention of the girl of his dreams, Aster. What starts off as just a single letter transforms into a series of text messages. During this journey, Ellie discovers that she might have fallen for Aster. Despite the premise, The Half Of It isn’t your typical love triangle. The film gives all three characters equal scope for development which is extremely rare for a film of this genre. At the end of the film, you realize that it was never about who gets the girl.
The Half Of It is so much more than a teen rom-com. It’s a deeply empathetic look into a Chinese family trying to fit into a small American town.
Where to Watch: Netlfix
There you have it! That was our list of movies we think you’d like if you loved The Perks of Being A Wallflower. We’ve mostly stuck to teen movies in this list, but there are a couple of movies that merit mention owing to their similarities in inciting a conversation about mental health. David O.Russel’s Silver Linings Playbook features a character suffering from bipolar disorder and Good Will Hunting that has its protagonist re-evaluate his past relationships through therapy.