It’s a tricky job delivering a faithful adaptation of a beloved book. But in the case of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, both moviegoers and book fans alike rejoiced at how incredibly good this movie turned out to be. It’s a powerful and moving coming-of-age story that taps into something deep within, regardless of where you are and at what stage in life.
While studios aren’t often in the habit of letting authors handle the screenwriting efforts and certainly not the directorial duties, we’re thankful that Stephen Chbosky was allowed to do both. If you’re looking for more stories that will have you choking back the tears or feature coming-of age-tales, check out our handpicked list below. It’s got something for everyone.
Here are 13 similar movies like the Perks of Being a Wallflower (Updated for 2020):
1. The Kings of Summer
First up on our list we have Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ free spirited and irresistibly charming feature – The Kings of Summer. It involves a group of teenagers who, after becoming frustrated with their overbearing parents, decide to embark upon a much needed adventure by moving to the woods. As with The Perks of Being a Wallflower, it is a true coming-of-age story with plenty of drama but perhaps a touch more humor.
2. The Way, Way Back
Second on our list, we have another endearing coming-of-age story courtesy of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash in their directorial debuts. The Way, Way Back focuses on another reserved teenager – in this case 14 year old Duncan (Liam James), who spends the summer holidays with his mother and her unstable boyfriend. Much in need of confidence and true friendship, Duncan stumbles into a job at the local waterpark where he is taken under the wing of the wisecracking manager.
Just as with the Perks of Being a Wallflower, this one is perfect for those of you who are looking for something that will take a tight hold of your emotions and won’t let go until long after it’s over.
3. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Our next entry is another movie that’s based upon a novel, in this case – Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Like the very best of the coming-of-age genre, it has a special quality or rather feeling where you can’t help but be captivated right from the start. The story centers around an impressionable and carefree teen who’s outlook on life is forever changed after he befriends a fellow classmate who has a terminal illness.
If you are looking for a story that will make you laugh, cry and also lift up your spirits high then this could be perfect for you.
4. Love, Simon
Coming in fourth on our list, we have Greg Berlanti’s broody, heartfelt and funny teen-teen comedy, Love, Simon. This film from 2018 traverses along many of the same rehearsed themes of the genre, but it does so in way that’s rarely as enjoyable and entertaining. It involves a closeted teen, Simon (Nick Robinson), who’s carefully constructed image slowly begins to crack apart. With neither his family nor friends aware that he’s gay, he finds it difficult to keep them in the dark as he searches for an anonymous classmate who he’s fallen in love with online.
If you’ve yet to see this instant feel-good story then we definitely recommend you check it out.
5. The Spectacular Now
Next up on our list, the excellent screenwriter James Ponsoltd returned to the director’s chair with another hit-book-turned-movie about a high school teenager who has to contend with a worsening case of alcoholism. The Spectacular Now is a solemn and sensitive coming-of-age story that is refreshingly honest and authentic.
With some fantastic performances from both Miles Turner and Shailene Woodley, their chemistry sizzles along beautifully to make this one of our favorite choices on our list.
6. Lady Bird
Moving along we have Greta Gerwig’s first outing as a director with her 2017 release – Lady Bird. This film takes a hard look at the interpersonal bonds between a mother and her daughter despite their conflicting views and opinions. It approaches the subject with a firm foot in reality breaking the story down with things that we have or would say/do at one point in time.
Just as with The Perks of Being a Wallflower, it’s graced with an abundance of fine performances but notably Laurie Metcalf and Saoirse Ronan shine. Definitely add this to your list of movies to watch next.
At just over the halfway point of our list, we have Greg Mottola’s universally adored comedy-drama, Adventureland. Jessie Eisenberg plays a young, graduate student who’s expectations of a summer spent traveling abroad and dashed by unexpected financial difficulties. Forced to take a job at a local amusement park called Adventureland, things begin to shape up after he develops an unexpected relationship with a fellow employee (Kristin Stewart).
While this is most definitely one of the most well known entries on our list, don’t let that stop you from watching it once again. We’ve seen it at least a handful of times by now and its misadventures and thrills never fail to disappoint.
8. Eighth Grade
At number eight on our list, we have Bo Burnham’s feature-length writing and directorial debut – Eighth Grade. Like many other entries we’ve included, it deals with the coming-of-age themes present in teenagers lives, but this is shown through a lens more up to the date with the current generation. Involving the mental insecurities and addiction to social media, it’s a story of a young girl who looks for social acceptance from her classmates.
Much like the Perks of Being a Wallflower, it takes on its weighty issues with a combination of grace, humor and superb execution.
9. The Edge of Seventeen
Continuing along, we have Kelly Fremon Craig’s ultra funny coming-of-age hit, The Edge of Seventeen. While many were quick to bill this as another formulaic addition to the genre, those early assumptions were soon dispelled as this turned out to be one of the best movies of the year.
With sibling rivalry at the center of the story, it sees the tempestuous relationship between Nadine and her brother Darian get stretched to the limit after he starts dating her best friend Krista. While it features some great performances from Woody Harrelson and Haley Lu Richardson, Hailee Steinfield is undoubtedly the star of the show making this a must-watch if you’ve never seen it before.
10. Paper Towns
Coming in at our tenth spot on our list, we have Jake Schreier’s charming and underrated mystery / comedy-drama, Paper Towns. Much like The Perks of Being A Wall Flower, this is another faithful and well-made adaptation to come to the big screen.
It’s a tale of adventure and intrigue that involves a young student “Q” (Natt Wolff) who joins the most popular girl in his school – Margo (Cara Delevingne) to carry out a night full of pranks and tricks on their fellow classmates. The next day “Q” finds that Margo has disappeared leaving him a slew of clues to follow and a heavy heart to nurse. While this entry isn’t exactly like for like, if you’re looking for a touch more adventure and mystery, you should definitely consider watching this one.
11. Sing Street
Next up we have the wildly entertaining, musical coming-of-age movie – Sing Street. In a story that can be found in every corner of the globe, it involves a young boy, Connor, who sets out to impress a girl he likes by creating a band. If musicals are right up your alley and you’ve made it this far without truly finding anything you’re entirely sure about, then this could be the perfect option for you.
12. 500 Days of Summer
Coming in at number twelve and for our penultimate entry, we have Marc Webb’s classic rom-com – 500 Days of Summer. With Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing Tom, a greeting card writer, the story skips back and forth through time, looking at the life-cycle of his now failed relationship with Summer (Zooey Deschanel). In reflecting upon their 500 days as a couple, he finds a renewed sense of vigor and appetite to begin living life to the fullest.
While there’s a big chance you’ve already seen this one before, it’s a classic for a reason. With charming performances all around, it’s a clever and heartwarming comedy that you know you can settle in for and simply enjoy the ride.
13. The Breakfast Club
And last but certainly not least, we have John Hughes’ seminal and much imitated coming-of-age hit, The Breakfast Club. Like a fine wine, this 1985 story has only gotten better with time. If you’ve run through all of the options and reached this point, then perhaps you were waiting for it all along. As a heavyweight of the genre, no matter when or how many times you’ve seen it, it’s never a bad time to sit through it once again.
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