9. Sixteen Candles (1984)
Molly Ringwald was just 15 years old when she starred in Sixteen Candles, which tells the story of Samantha “Sam” Baker (Ringwald) whose family forgets her 16th birthday. Amidst dealing with the onslaught of family members who arrive for her sister’s wedding, fending off the overtures of a geeky admirer Ted played by Anthony Michael Hall (Weird Science), and dealing with the reality that her sweet sixteen is proving to be anything but, Samantha is harboring a not-so-secret crush on the very dreamy Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling).
Sixteen Candles is the first collaboration between Ringwald and director John Hughes. The film also marks Hughes’ directorial debut. Unfortunately, Sixteen Candles did receive criticism regarding one of its most memorable characters, Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe), specifically for “unfunny ethnic jokes.”
Compared to the raunchy teen sex comedies (Porky’s, Losin’ It, Zapped!, The Last American Virgin) that proliferated the local multiplexes at the same time, Hughes takes a sweeter, more nostalgic approach to those tender teen years. Even so, Molly Ringwald has come out against the film for glorifying the rape culture of the ’80s (Jake hands off his drunk girlfriend to Ted).
Not to dismiss these legitimate concerns, but there aren’t many movies or TV shows made three decades ago that can measure up to today’s more inclusive standards. Sadly, it’s not as if there are many (if any) brown faces or LGBTQIA characters in any of the movies on this list.
Still, at its core, Sixteen Candles is a genuinely funny and touching coming-of-age story.