Drugged-out teen movies to watch instead of ‘Hot Summer Nights’
We hate to break it to fans of Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name) but ya boy’s film Hot Summer Nights was a bit of a stinker. The Hollywood Reporter took aim at the “problematic pacing” of Elijah Bynum’s debut feature and suggested that though it “has much to appreciate”, it “ultimately possesses the sampler-platter vibe of a director’s demo reel.”
Meanwhile, IndieWire gave the film a ruthless spanking, calling it a “sweaty pastiche” of a ludicrous amount of movies including Goodfellas, Adventureland, The Virgin Suicides, and even The Sandlot.
Set in 1991, the nostalgic coming-of-age flick follows the usual set of middle-class white kids as they struggle to find their place in the world and discover some sense of identity in selling drugs. Maika Monroe (It Follows) and Alex Roe (Siren) also starred in it, which makes us even sadder that Hot Summer Nights wasn’t the scorcher we hoped it’d be.
Still, if you’re looking for a drugged-out teen movie that won’t be a disappointment, we do have some ideas. Here’s our ranking of the twelve best drugged-out teen movies we think you should stream immediately for your very own hot (and hazy) summer night.
Set in 1994, Jonathan Levine’s dramedy sees a teenager (Josh Peck) selling Mary Jane on the streets of New York during his last summer before college. He exchanges kush for therapy with his psychotherapist (Ben Kingsley) and learns a lot of life lessons about love, crime, and the art of the hustle in the process.
Catherine Hardwicke’s coming-of-age drama about a thirteen-year-old girl’s descent into drugs, sex, and small-time crime can get savage in its exploration of the sometimes self-destructive tendencies of teenage girls. Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld) and Nikki Reed (Twilight) play two besties imploding under a never-ending party while Holly Hunter (The Big Sick) delivers a devastating performance of a mom who’s lost control of her daughter.
Rian Johnson’s phenomenal teen noir sees Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper) depicting a high school student investigating the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend. Inevitably, there’s more to the story than meets the eye and he becomes irrevocably embroiled in a high school crime ring and a drug operation that might have proved fatal.
Based on the iconic memoir by legendary New York writer and artist Jim Carroll, Scott Kalvert’s adaptation sees Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant) deliver one of his best performances as a teenager free falling into drug addiction in New York City. The film offers a heart wrenching depiction of the disease – even if DiCaprio is the healthiest looking junkie in the history of cinema.
7. Spring Breakers (2012)
A drug and arms dealer (James Franco) bails four college girls out of prison after they fail to rob a restaurant to fund their Spring Break plans. Harmony Korine’s crime drama is a neon burst of drugged-out bliss with three Disney starlets (Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, and Vanessa Hudgens) leading the party.
Doug Liman (Impulse) and John August’s (Big Fish) seedy exploration of a botched drug deal from three different perspectives is one of those cult movies that doesn’t receive anywhere near enough love. Scott Wolf (Imagine) and Jay Mohr (Jerry Maguire) are great as a pair of bumbling undercover cops who also happen to be gay lover.
Meanwhile, a very young Timothy Olyphant (Justified) suitably chews the scenery in a Santa hat as a drug dealer who delights in making women squirm.
Gus Van Sant’s (Psycho) delirious dive into the merry world of pharmaceuticals stars Matt Dillon (The House That Jack Built) as a pill-popping dope fiend with a penchant for holding up pharmacys. The teen movie is full of heady highs and devastating lows, perfectly depicting the extremes of a drug habit gone too far.
One of the most underrated teen films of the early 00s, Jonas Åkerlund’s trippy dramedy sees Jason Schwartzman (Moonrise Kingdom) play a speed freak on a three day adventure with a meth cook (Mickey Rourke).
Spun is stacked with characters who’ll look familiar to anyone who’s spent any amount of time around total drug fiends with a ludicrously great cast including Brittany Murphy (Clueless), John Leguizamo (Spawn), Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous), Mena Suvari (American Pie), and even Debbie Harry (Videodrome).
There are countless movies where good looking privileged white kids choose to take or sell drugs because why the hell not. Fernando Meirelle (Blindness) and Kátia Lund’s harrowing drama depicting a violent neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro and the radically different paths two local boys take within it offers a bold and brutal reminder of the true price of drugs.
You know you’ve got a fucked piece of work on your hands when it comes courtesy of a script from Korine and the direction of controversial artist Larry Clark. Kids is messed up and then some. It’s a guttural scream of feral hormones, drug use, and disease bolstered by harrowingly real performances from its young cast including Chloë Sevigny (Big Love) and Rosario Dawson (Luke Cage).
1. Dazed and Confused(1993)
Drugged-out teen movies don’t always have to revolve around death, addiction, and eternal suffering. As Richard Linklater’s classic coming-of-age comedy proves, there’s a place in the world for movies that celebrate the simple pleasures of getting buzzed with your buds – especially on the last day of school.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer who occasionally moonlights as a hapless punk musician. She’s written about pop culture for websites like Bustle, i-D, and The Mary Sue, and is the co-creator of Clarissa Explains F*ck All. She likes watching horror movies with her cat and eating too much sugar.