The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author Stephen Chbosky adapts his own heralded coming-of-age novel , writing and directing the story about a shy freshman who stumbles into a life-changing bond with a bunch of misfit seniors. Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller star; Chbosky directs.

Coming-of-age tales often fall into schmaltz and sentimentality, but Chbosky's feature strives to make the pain of growing up just as sharply realized as its moments of "feeling infinite." Likewise, each of the features below celebrates the alternating wallops of embarrassment and exhilaration that make up growing up, with varying degrees of humor and pathos.

Adventureland (2008) Also set in Pittsburgh, writer-director Greg Mottola's semi-autobiographical tale that centers on a late bloomer who has graduated from college but is sputtering into getting his life rolling. Jesse Eisenberg stars as the flustered virgin who takes a job at a local amusement park filled colorful characters and plenty of drama. Kristen Stewart and Ryan Reynolds co-star.

Charlie Bartlett (2007) For something a little more lighthearted, try this cheeky comedy that skewers contemporary America's over-eagerness to medicate away teen angst. Anton Yelchin stars as the titular privileged teen who—following his expulsion from yet another prep school—exploits his overprotective mom and manipulates his therapist to score prescription drugs for his new classmates. For a tale about a high school drug dealer, this funny feature is actually delightfully upbeat while maintaining a suitably sarcastic sense of humor as Charlie begins to play shrink to his angst-ridden peers. Robert Downey Jr. and Kat Dennings co-star; Jon Poll directs.

Brick (2005) And finally for something off the beaten path of coming-of-age tales, check out writer-director Rian Johnson's jaw-dropping debut that blended the teen movie and noir genres to create a taut thriller with a sleekly dark sense of humor. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a school-skipping shamus on the case of what happened to his beloved ex-girlfriend. Along the way, he runs across a deceptive drama geek, a cocky jock, crippled dealer and a mysterious queen bee. If you're wondering why critics have been salivating in anticipation of Johnson's upcoming Looper, this detective tale should clue you in.

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