Top 5 Coming of Age Scripts Ever Written
The coming-of-age story is arguably the most relatable genre in cinema since everybody comes of age at some point in life. It typically focuses on a story about growing up and is a well-known and dependable account standard in books, brief tales, and screenwriting.
As apparent as the coming-of-age story, there is much to analyze within the genre. There’s more to it than just a story about young characters, and has been a staple in cinema for years. The genre has countless subgenres and models, making it an excellent genre to analyze as a screenwriter.
Still from 'Lady Bird'. Photo credit: British GQ
What is the Coming of Age Genre?
A coming-of-age story is a type of writing, theater, film, and game that spotlights the development of a protagonist from youth to adulthood. Stories about growing up generally highlight discourse or inner speech over action and are often set in the past.
The subjects of coming-of-age stories usually are teenagers, with it having a focus on their transition into becoming adults. The purposes of these stories are typically personal changes inside the character(s) being referred to. One of the earliest examples is The Wizard of Oz from 1939, with the genre continuing its popularity today.
Top 5 Coming of Age Scripts
Keep in mind, there are plenty of classic coming-of-age films that deserve to be on this list (The 400 Blows, City of God, etc.). However, many of those films don’t have easy access to their scripts, nor have their scripts translated to English online (at least from what I can find).
Thus, this list is biased toward newer English language scripts. Don’t hold it against us! Regardless, these scripts/films are still fantastic and worth viewing, especially if you are interested in screenwriting. Be sure to view each of these and follow the script to get the most out of the subject.
5. Eighth Grade (2018)
Logline - An introverted teenage girl tries to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth-grade year before leaving to start high school.
Who knew that Bo Burnham could craft an accurate portrayal of eighth graders while simultaneously combining deep levels of emotion? Eighth Grade is an excellent film that’s elevated by its fantastic writing. The film is a scarce example of combining awkwardness, reality, comedy, and heavy themes into a great film.
4. Moonlight (2016)
Logline - A young African-American man grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence, and burgeoning adulthood.
What is left to say about Moonlight that hasn’t been said already? The Academy Award winner is a staple of how to tell a captivating and emotional story, with shocks and stages of characterization along with it. Few films have done themes of masculinity and vulnerability, as well as Moonlight.
3. Boyhood (2014)
Logline - The life of Mason, from early childhood to his arrival at college.
Every self-proclaimed film fanatic has a love for at least one of Richard Linklater’s films. Boyhood is one of his best; that’s more than the appeal of it taking 11 years to film. As captivating as its real-time filming is (filmed over 11 years to show the characters aging), none of that matters if the script and film aren’t great.
The technical aspect is a feat few films have done, though its ability to be enthusiastically close in story scope makes it a protracted examination of the human condition. We see Mason grow up before us, on top of the ongoing life events with Olivia, Mason Sr, and Samantha.
2. Stand by Me (1986)
Logline - After the death of one of his friends, a writer recounts a childhood journey with his friends to find the body of a missing boy.
As great as Stephen King’s novella The Body is, most will argue that Stand By Me is one of the best Stephen King adaptations. Stand By Me features four incredibly compelling characters in Gordie, Chris, Teddy, and Vern. It’s a masterclass on how to develop characters and show interactions between friends.
The dialogue feels natural, no matter how large or Hollywood the film feels. We feel like we’re witnessing a group of buddies hanging out with one another, even though the story of them looking for a body seems surreal.
1. Lady Bird (2017)
Logline - In 2002, an artistically inclined seventeen-year-old girl came of age in Sacramento, California.
What a solo directorial debut for Greta Gerwig in 2017’s Lady Bird. Lady Bird's quirkiness and love-hate relationship with her mother evokes a level of emotion I didn’t know was attainable. The dialogue is hilarious, yet it doesn’t pigeonhole itself into being a straightforward comedy. It’s a beautiful film that is required viewing for aspiring screenwriters, especially for the coming-of-age story. Greta Gerwig is a force to be reckoned with, and it’s exciting to see what she does moving forward.