The Movie My Fourteen-Year-Old Self Might Have Loved

I learned last week that nearly half of my confirmation students are obsessed with The Outsiders.  They read the S.E.  Hinton book for English class and watched the 1983 Francis Ford Coppola movie over winter break, and now both girls (what?  I have five kids in class–two is nearly half) watch it constantly.

I had never read the book or seen the movie, and since I will never read or watch any of the Twilight books or movies, I thought this was a good chance to check out something my youth (as we say in the church) are excited about.

Well, holy buckets.  I’m sorry, girls, but this movie is bananas.  I haven’t read the novel yet, so I don’t know who bears the most blame for  the “morbid sentimentality” and general weirdness of the story, but the fact that watching it is like watching Gone with the Wind, Oklahoma!, West Side Story, and Meet Me in St. Louis all at once?  Mr. Coppola, I’d like to see you in my office.

Let’s pause.

When I wrote that list of movies, I looked at it and thought, “Shoot!  I would love to see a movie that is like watching all of those at once!”  But I did not love The Outsiders, because what it is actually like is all the maudlin sunrise / sunset scenes from Gone with the Wind, all the Judd Fry scenes from Oklahoma!, the death scenes from West Side Story, and the Halloween scenes from Meet Me in St. Louis.  And if that still sounds awesome (what can I say?), remember: in The Outsiders, nobody sings.

I can’t say I enjoyed the movie, exactly, but I am delighted to have seen it.  Because: Matt Dillon.  Patrick Swayze.  Emilio Estevez.  Tom Cruise.  Rob Lowe.  And Ralph “wax on, wax off” Macchio.

Do you remember what these guys looked like in 1983?  I will tell you: they looked brand new.  Matt Dillon looks like one of those molded wax figures you get at the science museum or the zoo–smooth and fresh and perfect.  Ralph Macchio looks just how you remember him from the Karate Kid movies, but dirtier and more heartbreaking.  Rob Lowe looks . . . well, exactly the same, only 29 years more so.

I’m not saying these actors look old and haggard now, but they don’t look like teenagers.  Because, as Ponyboy reminds us (with an assist from Robert Frost), “nothing gold can stay.”

To get a sense of this crazy movie, check out the official music video.  You didn’t know Stevie Wonder sang the Outsiders theme song?  Well, you do now!

Your turn: What movie did you love as a teenager that you find a little ridiculous now?  




Filed under Book Report, Marvelous Miscellany

13 responses to “The Movie My Fourteen-Year-Old Self Might Have Loved

  1. I have heard fantastic things about The Outsiders, but have never actually read the book (and didn’t know there was a movie).
    As for a movie that my teen self loved that I find a little ridiculous now I would have to say “The Prince and Me.” Its about a university student (who was possibly pre-med) who falls in love with, yes, a prince. I would still watch it. But its funnier now than romantic.


    • Fun choice! I think I was a little too old to be in love with that movie when it came out, but I still wouldn’t mind seeing it. Really, I love a lot of movies I am probably too old for, although not in the way I loved them as a fourteen-year-old.


  2. Emily

    Maggie, “The Outsiders” is a classic!!! We also read and watched the movie as teenagers and loved it! I have all the confidence in the world in our movie selections from my teenage years. We spent a whole day watching “Clueless” on repeat. Still a classic. We also loved “Ever After”, “Titanic” and anything with JTT in it (Jonathan Taylor Thomas). I am slightly more suspect of what we considered quality music at the time…


  3. I loved all SE Hinton’s books but didn’t like the movie as much. Looking back, I don’t know why I loved the books as they were mostly if not all from the male perspective, and about inner city kids, a very different environment to mine. I *AM* surprised that today’s kids would still find something to relate to in it as I think it would seem pretty dated today.


    • Isn’t that weird? I went through a big Robert Cormier phase, and now wonder the same thing–the books are very male-centered. I’m not sure what my students are responding to in The Outsiders–the sense of a world without adults? The Robert Frost poem? The beautiful actors? I will have to investigate further . . .


  4. Lisa

    I’m trying to put aside the mind-boggling-ness of a Usan born after 1960 not reading The Outsiders and just explain the problems of the movie. The book is great and the movie fails because it follows the book too closely, word for word and feeling for feeling. You know how usually you hate a movie because it’s not faithful to the book? FFC demonstrated how to fail by being too faithful. His only omissions are those that show characters’ depth (compare Emilio Estevez wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt to the book’s MM scene). I think he just wanted to showcase the new talent. The movie’s much more dated than the book.


    • I knew there must be more behind that Mickey shirt! I’m glad to know the book is better; I will still read it when it comes from the library.

      Sorry to boggle your mind! Blame my English teachers?


  5. This movie WAS the movie my 14-year-old self loved. I was 14 in 1983 and pictures of these beautiful boys, torn out of Tiger Beat, covered my walls, locker, binders, and paper bag book covers.

    My 7th grader recently read the book, so I showed her the DVD of the movie (which I own). Her reaction: Wow, why is everyone so over-dramatic?

    I guess the movie is a little cheesy now, but it was a feast for the eyes when I was a kid.


    • Love it! Especially the part about Tiger Beat.

      Everyone really is overly dramatic in this movie, aren’t they? I mean, the Socs overreact after the drive-in, and Ralph Macchio definitely overreacts to them overreacting, and why did Patrick Swayze punch Ponyboy anyway? But yes: a feast for the eyes, cheese or no.

      Thanks for stopping!


  6. The Princess Bride. still love it.


    • YES. Although I was surprised, watching it later in life, to see how short a time they spend in the fire swamp. I remember that part being much longer and much scarier!


  7. Pingback: Nostalgia in a cheesy romantic comedy « At least we made it this far…

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