Generally favorable reviews - based on 16 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 16
  2. Negative: 1 out of 16
Watch On
  1. Reviewed by:  Gary M. Kramer
    Mar 13, 2014
    This documentary is not a dry, academic history of youth culture, but rather a vibrant political statement that shows the powerful force of teenagers and their ability to foment social, cultural, and political change.
  2. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Mar 11, 2014
    Cry foul, you documentary purists, but narration by Jena Malone and others pulls the gamble off. The film makes its point ingeniously.
  3. Reviewed by: Alan Scherstuhl
    Mar 11, 2014
    The old footage — newsreels, scraps of home movies — is entrancing, and even those familiar details eventually accrete with the fresh ones into something grand and stirring, especially near the conclusion.
  4. Reviewed by: Cath Clarke
    Jan 21, 2014
    This is a whistle stop tour that leaves you wanting more.
  5. Reviewed by:  Ali Catterall
    Jan 21, 2014
    A haunting, hypnotic collage of archive footage and period recreations charting the pre-history of the teenager.
  6. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Apr 24, 2014
    The resulting film is a rich mix of movements and cultural phenomena that occurred not only in the United States, but several European countries.
  7. Reviewed by: Jeff Baker
    Apr 3, 2014
    There's a lot of ground to cover -- too much for a short documentary -- and Wolf goes past his boundaries for a quick, unnecessary glimpse of Sinatra, Vietnam, and some of what came after 1945.
  8. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Mar 11, 2014
    Matt Wolf’s innovative documentary is a bracing reminder that the notion of adolescence as distinct from childhood and adulthood is a relatively modern phenomenon.
  9. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Mar 26, 2014
    Teenage is an art film – an engrossing one at that – so it isn’t required to respect Queensberry rules vis-à-vis documentaries.
  10. Reviewed by: Kevin Jagernauth
    Mar 19, 2014
    A clever assemblage of archival and historical material that unfortunately doesn't quite go far enough.
  11. Reviewed by: Jen Chaney
    May 22, 2014
    Wolf — who wrote Teenage with Jon Savage, author of “Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture 1875-1945” — deftly weaves together various media in a way that breathes its own youthful, stream-of-conscious life into the documentary genre.
  12. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    Mar 20, 2014
    It can feel repetitive and oversimplified. Aesthetically, though, it has an aching, dreamlike pull, constructing a panoramic view of history through the prism of collective and personal memory.
  13. Reviewed by: Neil Genzlinger
    Mar 13, 2014
    A lot of intriguing ideas are floated in Teenage... But the film takes a point of view that leaves all of them underdeveloped.
  14. Reviewed by: Ben Kenigsberg
    Mar 13, 2014
    Like adolescence itself, Teenage is educational, scattered, and over much too quickly.
  15. Reviewed by: Diego Costa
    Mar 14, 2014
    It botches itself out of its own epic ambitions, an aesthetic slickness that seems to contradict, if not betray, its subject matter, and a maddeningly subdued critical spirit.
  16. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    May 22, 2014
    Regrettably, it’s terrible poetry: a roughly chronological jumble of archival footage, unconvincing period reenactments, gauzy voice-overs, and half-baked ideas that makes one yearn for the stolid dullness of a History Channel documentary.
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User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 0 out of 1
  2. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Jan 7, 2015
    A crock of cliched tropes that generalizes, rather than fleshes out the 'teenage' experience and the evolution of the term. The films sewsA crock of cliched tropes that generalizes, rather than fleshes out the 'teenage' experience and the evolution of the term. The films sews together a narrative consisting of archival footage as well as dramatic recreations, all set to a driving dub of narration from 'teenage voices' (Most notably among the mix are Jena Malone and Ben Whishaw, two actors well past this period of youth themselves). The most interesting aspect of 'Teenage' is that the recreations are aesthetically feasible and blend fairly seamlessly into the mix of actual grainy black and white footage. The execution of 'Teenage' gives it a distinctive documentary feel, though it doesn't seem to do much at all with it. We gain no new insight to the experience of being a teenager, just a caricature of how the feelings of the children of the era were exacerbated by the conflicts of the times, forcing them to acquire a voice. The plot becomes repetitive once we adjust to the format. The narration begins to grow irritating. As a failed experiment, the one thing that is a shame above all in 'Teenage' is how strikingly dull and devoid of personality it really is when the veneer of subversive execution is pulled back. Full Review »