Eddie Huang’s Boogie Reenergizes The Coming-of-Age Story

And five other enduring films about growing up

In Boogie, Eddie Huang takes the coming-of-age story to a whole new level. Alfred “Boogie” Chin (Taylor Takahashi), the son of immigrant Taiwanese parents, grows up with both the all-American dream of becoming an NBA star and the weighty expectations of 5,000 years of Chinese history on his shoulders. Growing up in the New York City borough of Queens, Boogie is a typical teenager. He dreams of a future with his girlfriend, Eleanor (Taylour Paige), hangs with his best bud, Richie (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), goofs off in English class, and spars with his basketball coach. At the same time, his parents (Perry Yung and Pamelyn Chee) in different ways impress on him the same strict sense of duty and honor they grew up with in Taiwan, as well as a belief that he must put his family before himself. To craft the character of Boogie, Huang found ways to connect his own unique childhood to other coming-of-age stories. “I still have a lot to uncover and understand about my relationship to my parents and culture and how it contrasts with American values and society,” recounts Huang. “I think by continuing to examine this friction in my work, my audience will see a reflection of themselves.”

With Boogie now playing in theaters, we’re revisiting other fascinating coming-of-age tales. While coming from different cultures, from evangelical Southern Baptists to Brooklyn African Americans, each film chronicles the same moving journey of a young person coming into his or her own.

Get tickets for Boogie now. 

The official trailer for Boogie.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

In Eliza Hittman’s award-winning drama Never Rarely Sometimes Always, 17-year-old Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) grapples with an unwanted pregnancy. Since Pennsylvania state laws forbids a minor from seeking assistance on her own, Autumn is forced to leave her blue-collar town and travel by bus to New York City with her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder) to find the medical attention she needs. Though they were hard to find, Hittman “always sought out films that showed a more complicated understanding of the challenges of being a young person.” Now, Hittman brings those stories to the screen. Indeed, Indiewire has labeled her "one of contemporary cinema’s most empathetic and skilled chroniclers of American youth” with Never Rarely Sometimes Always providing “a singular look at what it means to be a teenage girl today, with all the joy and pain that comes with it.”

Watch Never Rarely Sometimes Always now.

The official trailer for Never Rarely Sometimes Always


In Dee Rees’s Pariah, Alike (Adepero Oduye), a young woman growing up in Brooklyn, tries to makes sense of her multiple identities (lesbian, poet, African American, daughter). In many ways, being herself is learning how to make these labels work for her. While not strictly autobiographical, Rees’ screenplay reflects her own struggle as a black, gay teen. “Growing up, I rarely saw my image reflected on screen,” Rees's explains. “I made Pariah to portray images on screen that we hadn’t seen before, and to bring to light the experiences of gay youth of color because those stories hadn't been fully told.” Her insightful drama takes the coming-of-age story to a whole new level, creating, according to The Wrap, “a moving story that’s told with intelligence, heart and a working knowledge of the real world we live in.”

Watch Pariah now on iTunes or Amazon.

The official trailer for Pariah

Boy Erased

Based on Garrard Conley’s memoir of the same name, Joel Edgerton’s Boy Erased dramatizes the experience of an Arkansas teen, Jared (Lucas Hedges), whose parents (played by Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman) push him into conversion therapy. Wanting to stay true to his faith, having grown up in a religious family, yet uncertain about how to embrace his emerging sexuality, Jared is trapped in a coercive program with other teens who are equally confused. For Edgerton, Hedges’ transitional age of 17 at the time filming began perfectly captured Jared’s own state of transition. Hedges reflected on his own coming-of-age experiences to understand his character. “I am still coming of age,” Hedges explains. “The only way I can do these parts is if I steal from myself.” Calling Boy Erased “one of the finest and most unforgettable films of the year,” The Observer lauded its willingness to explore how teens survive this ordeal, writing, “this tender, sensitive and informed attempt to reconcile the upbringing of vulnerable youth with the value of their own moral truths is so galvanizing that in the final analysis it moves in the direction of healing us all.”

Watch Boy Erased now on iTunes or Amazon.

Becoming Jared featurette for Boy Erased.

Dazed and Confused

In 1993, the up-and-coming filmmaker Richard Linklater wanted to create a coming-of-age film that had fun with the genre while staying true to his and his friends' complex memories of that period. “I wanted to do a realistic teen movie,” explained Linklater. “Teenage life is more like you’re looking for the party, looking for something cool, the endless pursuit of something you never find, and even if you do, you never quite appreciate it.” To make Dazed and Confused, his slice-of-life comedy about the last day of classes for a Texas high school in 1976, Linklater cast a remarkable ensemble of young actors. In addition to Matthew McConaughey’s breakout performance, the film sports notable turns by Parker Posey, Ben Affleck, Renée Zellweger, Milla Jovovich, and Adam Goldberg. In the end, the movie that Linklater created to remember his generation’s coming of age has itself become a rite of passage. “Once every decade or so, a movie captures the hormone-drenched, fashion-crazed, pop-song-driven rituals of American youth culture with such loving authenticity that it comes to seem a kind of anthem, as innocently giddy and spirited as the teenagers it’s about,” writes Entertainment Weekly.

Watch Dazed and Confused now on iTunes and Amazon.

The official trailer for Dazed and Confused.


Justing Tipping’s coming-of-age film Kicks follows Brandon (Jahking Guillory), a teenager whose life is shattered when his recently acquired dream sneakers, a pair of Nike Air Jordan 1s, are stolen. With the help of his pals, Albert (Christopher Jordan Wallace) and Rico (Christopher Meyer), Brandon sets out to get his kicks back. While loosely adapting the plot of the 1948 Italian neo-realist classic Bicycle Thieves, Tipping used his own life to give the story a sense of authenticity. Growing up in the East Bay, Tipping remembers when his brother told him, “You’re a man now,” after his brand-new Nikes were stolen from him on the street. “It was that moment, specifically, that made me want to tell this story,” recalls Tipping. “I was proud, but at the same time, deeply saddened.” Fueled by that memory, Tipping created what The Playlist praised as “a raw and poignant exploration of masculinity, violence, and limited opportunities in underprivileged urban areas.”

Watch Kicks now on iTunes and Amazon.

The official trailer for Kicks.