Charlie Lyne has watched nearly 300 teen movies over the past two years. As the writer and producer of new documentary Beyond Clueless, he's had to immerse himself in the world of prom dates, geeks and jocks in order to explore the 'strange layers beneath the skin' of the iconic films from the '90s and early '00s.
Featuring clips from 220 movies, the documentary has the narrative of the classic teen film. A close analysis of the sometimes strange themes in the movies, producing it came with massive pros (a Facebook friend request from the director of Jawbreaker) as well as cons.
'When I would venture out into the wider world all my reference points had become entirely narrowed to this one field of 90s teen movies,' he says. 'We'd be talking about an incident in the news and all I could relate it to is 'it's exactly like that bit from Cruel Intentions 2' and this would go over everyone's head because most sensible people haven't seen it since 1994.'
We decided to rack his brains on the teen movies you should (or shouldn't) be re-watching - and the things you didn't know about your high school faves.
The best cameo from a pop star
'I'm going to go with Usher. Not Usher in She's All That, Usher in The Faculty. I'm not sure he even has any lines but he does this amazing background work. There'll just be a very serious horror scene and you'll just have Usher in the background doing some real emoting. He moves his lips and mimes word to sort of go 'Oh my god, it's so surprising!'.'
The most unlikely ending
'Something like She's All That - while it ends the way you think it's going to end - if you stop and think about it is really bizarre. The whole point of the film supposedly is that Zack (Freddie Prinze Jr.) learns that it's not all about the way you look from Laney, his girlfriend. But in the end she isn't allowed to go back to how she used to look. She's sat there watching him collect his graduation certificate in her red dress.'
The best sequel
'I actually like Bring It On Again. It's a honest tale about rejecting certain cliches of that world. I find the first one weirdly disingenuous. It's the whole thing in the first one where they finally overcome the inner-city black cheerleading squad and you're really not sure whether you're meant to be cheering on these privileged, entitled, slightly awful cheerleaders. Maybe it's a genius work of satire but it's so subtle that I'm not getting it?'
'I also have affections for The Rage: Carrie 2 and also American Psycho 2: All American Girl with Mila Kunis. They've taken out all of the serious psychological aspects and replaced them with campy fun.'
[American Psycho 2]
And the worst sequel?
'Cruel Intentions 2: Manchester Prep is strange and interesting and kind of amazing because it has Amy Adams way before she was famous, but I think Cruel Intentions is a near perfect movie.'
'The sequel was made as a six-part TV show, but they canceled it before it had even aired. Their genius stroke was to edit the first three episodes into a film which is why if you watch it there's all these strands that just go nowhere. You're like 'oh, there's going to be some subplot about a missing briefcase' and it's never referenced again.'
[Cruel Intentions 2: Manchester Prep]
On on-screen relationships
'I've got a real place in my heart for Saved! I really loved Macauley Culkin and Eva Amurri Martino's relationship. I remember that being one of the first movie relationships I had a real attachment to.'
Why body-swap movies are unexpectedly hard hitting
'They deal with the most weighty, complicated, psychosexual issues you can possibly imagine but do it under the guise of 'ohh, it's just Lindsay Lohan swapping bodies with her mother' which is actually a fascinating, terrifying way of making those points. At the end of Freaky Friday, Lindsay Lohan realises that her mother (in her body) has made out with her boyfriend and this is just giggled off as if it wouldn't be one of the most scarring moments of self identity confusion you could possibly have.'
The film you didn't realise was British
'There's a film called It's A Boy Girl Thing. The weird thing about the film is it's actually a British film made with British money but obviously filmed in America and set in America so really no one's seen it outside of the UK. That's why it's got Sharon Osbourne in it.'
The best character introduction
'Josh Hartnett in The Virgin Suicides. A 60s hit starts up and this perfectly pitched montage starts. There's a classic corridor shot where all the girls turn with these wildly over-the-top flustered looks, then it cuts to him floating blissfully in a backyard pool, then a girl knocks on the door and hands him his completed homework and a batch of brownies. You know exactly who this guy is in the logic of this school.'
[The Virgin Suicides]
The stars you didn't realise were in teen movies
'There's almost no actors now aged around 30-40 who didn't start out in one of those movies. Matthew McConaughey starred in Dazed And Confused, Chris Evans' film debut was in Not Another Teen Movie - one of my favourite performances of his. Whatever It Takes stars James Franco and weird pre-famous Aaron Paul. When I see him on the poster for Need For Speed I'm like 'Woah - the third supporting actor from Whatever It Takes is now leading blockbusters'.
Read Charlie's movie swaps later in the week, but until then check out the 100 best teen movies of all time.