15 Unforgettable Summertime Coming-of-Age Movies

Because the summer is finally in full swing (and we’re still looking for new ways to discuss Moonrise Kingdom), we’ve rounded up some of our favorite films from the season notorious for oppressive family vacations, summer camp, post-grad crises, and extraterrestrial visits — all wonderful expositions for growing up. At the same time, some of our favorite coming-of-age films illustrate that brief window of having zero responsibility, suggesting that maybe it’s endless hours of conversation and neighborhood adventure with friends (or whoever’s house is in biking distance) that have the most profound effect on us.

But whatever the premise, we generally seem to enjoy these stories (even the terrible ones — thank you, TBS) because they evoke recognizable parts of ourselves, either making us extremely nostalgic or thankful for the periods we’ll never have to revisit. And they can help those of us still trying to grow up feel not so alone. You can click through to see what we’re talking about, and we hope that you’ll share the coming-of-age films you love most in the comments, because gosh, doesn’t all this talk of childhood have you feeling warm and sappy and like sharing?

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Reality tells us two 12-year-olds are way too young to find eternal love, but we can’t help but fall under Wes Anderson’s spell (again) and get behind Sam and Suzy as they journey from awkward French kissing and marriage (see above) to nearly certain death in the span of days. They speak with sincerity that is palpable, especially in juxtaposition with adults like Suzy’s mother, who addresses her family through a megaphone. One of our favorite examples of their dialogue is an early scene in which Suzy stares down at the corpse of Snoopy — a casualty from an early battle — and asks if he was a good dog. Sam replies, also staring down at the corpse, “Who’s to say? But he didn’t deserve to die.” Equally heartening is the story of the Khaki Scout comrades, who abandon their bad-guy role midway through when they decide — by way of a tree-house summit — to help the young lovers reunite.