Five must see coming of age stories set in fantasy films

The new family film in theaters, A Monster Calls, is pretty much the definition of a perfect family film. Capturing the childhood experience for the tough, heartbreaking and often devastating experience it can be to get through, the film is fearless in facing the harsh realities of growing up. Using both realism and fantastical elements of storytelling to capture that universal experience, the movie provides a vital lesson about anger and grief kids and adults should take to heart. A Monster Calls is sure to be praised as one of the best coming-of-age films in years but there are other fantasy films which have used similar approaches to express just how painful it can be to grow up. Here are five of the very best:

Wizard of Oz

Probably the quintessential example for a lot of people but I literally watched this movie for the first time this week to decide whether or not to include it on the list. Glad I did, because I think it’s a prime example of what we’re talking about. Why did it take me so long to watch this movie? (Probably because those flying monkeys sent me crying out of the room as a little kid and I never had an opportunity to give it another try.) Turns out, that’s pretty much the exact reaction the filmmakers wanted me to have-to be terrified by those little monsters. In Oz, evil and innocence are put into strict and clear categories, especially compared to the more nuanced black and white realistic story in Oklahoma. In fact, the Wizard of Oz is a pretty blunt depiction of the concepts kids are trying to understand as they grow up; good and evil, intelligence, courage, heart, and home.

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Lesley Coffin is editor and founder of Movies, Film, Cinema. A writer with a masters degree from NYU’s Gallatin School in biographical studies and star theory. She wrote the biography on Lew Ayres (Lew Ayres: Hollywood’s Conscientious Objector) and Hitchcock’s Casting (Hitchcock’s Stars). Lesley currently freelances for a number of sites, including regular contributions to The Interrobang, Pink Pen, The Young Folks, and previously wrote for The Mary Sue and Filmoria.