The Best Teenage Girl Power Movies of the 2000s



The 2000s gave us some of cinema’s most memorable films, from top feel-good movies to the beginnings of the superhero movie renaissance, but no category skyrocketed quite like the coming-of-age teenage girl power genre. These stories transport us into worlds just like our own, but with characters that get to live out our wildest dreams. Making friends with mermaids, becoming cheerleading legends, having big city adventures, and falling for cute love interests — there was no better way to tick all the boxes for a 2000s tween.

There are too many great flicks to choose from, but we can confidently say that we’ve hand-picked some of the decade’s most iconic girl power films. They’re enthralling, memorable, and somehow blend realism with a sense of magic that has yet to be replicated. 2004 was the ultimate year as five of the films on this list were released during the year, some just weeks apart from one another. Even if you haven’t seen some of these films, you’ve probably heard of them! Grab some popcorn, pop in your favorite CD, and enjoy this list of the best teen/tween girl power movies of the 2000s.

14 Sleepover (2004)

Staci talks to her friends through Julie's computer
MGM Distribution Co. (United States) & 20th Century Fox (international)

2004’s Sleepover made us all want to have a life-changing slumber party with our best friends! The film follows Julie, who throws a sleepover on the last day of middle school. When Julie’s friend-turned-rival Staci shows up and challenges the girls to a scavenger hunt across town, Julie’s crew sneaks out and takes off on a night of shenanigans. From getting a date at a nightclub to stealing her crush’s boxers, there’s no shortage of laughs and hi-jinks. The ending is as sweet as they come, and the scene in the Old Navy display window is positively iconic.

13 John Tucker Must Die (2006)

John Tucker Must Die
20th Century Fox

After being triple-timed by the local high school player, three vastly different teenage girls set out to get revenge on their lying, cheating ex by recruiting a shy and sweet new student (Brittany Snow) to help break the deceptive guy’s heart in 2006’s John Tucker Must Die. When the ladies discover that the eponymous character dates girls from different social circles at the same time to ensure they never cross paths, overachiever Carrie (Arielle Kebbel), animal activist Beth (Sophia Bush), and cheerleader Heather (Ashanti) band together to teach him a lesson, developing a powerful bond in the hilarious process.

12 Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004)

Linday Lohan in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen
Buena Vista Pictures Distribtuion

Lindsay Lohan continued her reign as the It Girl of the 2000s when she appeared as an aspiring actress with big dreams of becoming a famous Broadway star in 2004’s Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, following the eccentric Mary Elizabeth “Lola” Cep as she attempts to become the queen bee at school and land the lead role in the school play.

Related: Here Are Lindsay Lohan’s Best Teen Movies, Ranked

New girl Lola instantly hits it off with social outcast Ella (Alison Pill), and the pair go on a wild and exciting New York City adventure to see their favorite band perform. The heartwarming flick depicts Lola attempting to thrive in her new surroundings after moving and highlights her endearing friendship with Ella, as they also stand up against resident mean girl Carla (Megan Fox).

11 The Cheetah Girls (2003)

The Cheetah Girls Dorinda, Aqua, Galleria, and Chanel
Disney Channel

The beloved 2003 Disney Channel Original Movie The Cheetah Girls famously followed four diverse Manhattan teen girls (Galleria, Dorinda, Chanel, and Aqua) as they set their sights on making it big in the music industry by winning the school talent show and attracting the attention of an influential record producer. As self-proclaimed group leader Galleria (Raven-Symoné) finds the prospect of fame going to her head, her fellow band members find themselves at odds with her and their friendship is tested. The Cheetah Girls chronicles the teenagers’ quest to follow their big dreams and aspirations and features the ladies performing the inspiring and aptly named tune “Girl Power.”

10 Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

Bend it Like Beckham cast winning the league tournament after Jess's (Parminder Nagra) arrival
Fox Searchlight Pictures / Helkon SK

Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley starred as two gifted soccer players pursuing professional careers in their cherished sport in 2002’s Bend It Like Beckham, focusing on soccer lover Jess Bhamra as she secretly joins a semi-pro team after her skills are noticed by player Jules Paxton despite her strict Indian parents forbidding her to do so. Jess and Jules form a heartwarming friendship as they motivate and encourage one another both on and off the field, and Jess is faced with a massively difficult decision when she is forced to choose between her soccer aspirations or honoring her family’s traditions.

9 Save the Last Dance (2001)

Save the Last Dance
Paramount Pictures

Save the Last Dance is a gorgeous, raw love story that celebrates artistic expression and meaningful relationships. When up-and-coming ballerina Sara fails her Juilliard audition and subsequently finds out about her mother’s death, she all but gives up her dreams of being a professional dancer. In the aftermath, she moves to the South Side with her father and is invited by her new friend Chenille to attend a hip-hop dance club. There, she steps into new territory as she explores different dance forms and begins falling in love with Chenille’s brother, Derek. It’s a lovely tale that doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects like teen parenting and gang life, and Sara’s relationship with her friends and loved ones arms her with the bravery to process her mother’s passing.

8 Aquamarine (2006)

20th Century Fox

Loosely based on the novel of the same name, the magical feel-good movie Aquamarine tells the tale of two best friends, Hailey and Claire, who are enjoying the last few days of summer before Hailey has to move. After wishing not to go, a massive storm causes a mermaid named Aquamarine to wash up in a nearby swimming pool. Determined to prove to her father that true love exists, Aquamarine teams up with the girls to win over the cutest lifeguard on the beach. If you want an amazing soundtrack, makeover montages, and a genuinely kindhearted love interest, you need to see this film.

7 What A Girl Wants (2003)

Amanda Bynes in What a Girl Wants
Warner Bros.

There’s no denying that Amanda Bynes was one of Hollywood’s most charismatic performers of the 2000s, and she further displayed her overwhelming likability when she starred in 2003’s What A Girl Wants, portraying the carefree and deeply loyal Daphne Reynolds as she goes on a major emotional journey after discovering her father is a prominent British politician (Colin Firth) running for office. Daphne sets out on an adventure overseas to finally meet the man and initially tries to conform to fit his expectations by changing herself, but ultimately realizes she’s happy and perfect just the way she is.

Related: Best Coming-of-Age Movies of the 2000s

6 Whip It (2009)

whip it kristen wigg and elliot page
Flower Films

This movie isn’t talked about nearly as much as it should be. We follow Bliss, a teenager in Texas who is fed up with her smothered existence as a beauty pageant contestant. Inspired by an encounter with a group of roller derby players, she tries out for the ‘Hurl Scouts’ team and falls in love with the sport. While she makes some bad choices and acts rashly at times, her journey of self-discovery is moving. One of the major selling points of Whip It is her relationship with her mother, which evolves from a place of anger and misunderstanding to one of mutual respect.

5 The Cinderella Story (2004)

A Cinderella Story Sam and Austin at dance
Warner Bros. Pictures

2004’s A Cinderella Story is, like the character of Cinderella herself, a story for the ages. This modern remake of the classic fairytale was released at the height of Hilary Duff’s and Chad Michael’s Murrary’s popularity and, despite being panned by critics, was a box office hit. The film is a great time capsule of the 2000s and launched a successful direct-to-video sequel line, with a 2008 one starring Selena Gomez and three films that ran into the 2010s, with the most recent entry in the franchise, A Cinderella Story: Starstruck, releasing in 2021.

4 13 Going On 30 (2004)

Jennifer Garner in 13 Going On 30

This fantastic movie is a staple in the rom-com genre, and for good reason! In 13 Going on 30, we see protagonist Jenna celebrating her 13th birthday in 1987; when she’s humiliated by a clique of ruthless popular girls, she makes a wish to be “thirty, flirting and thriving.” To her surprise, she wakes up the next morning to find that her wish came true, and she’s become a beautiful, successful magazine editor. This story is unique in showing us why you should be careful of what you wish for, and Jenna gradually learns that she’s worthy of happiness exactly as she is.

3 Bring It On (2000)

Eliza Dushku and Kirsten Dunst in Bring It On
Universal Pictures

This entire Bring It On film series brought competitive cheerleading into the spotlight, but the first is arguably the best of them all. Recently promoted to captain of her squad, Torrance fears she’s cursed after dropping the Spirit Stick at Cheer Camp over the summer. As the film progresses, she boldly overcomes issues with plagiarism, intense rivalry and an unexpected love triangle, ultimately becoming the leader everyone needs her to be. The whole thing is over-the-top and a little campy, but we dare you to watch it and not want to try the routines afterward.

2 Mean Girls (2004)

The Main Cast of Mean Girls
Paramount Pictures

Possibly the most recognizable 2000s teen flick, Mean Girls writer Tina Fey wanted to give audiences a deeper look at the complex social connections between cliques and students in high school, particularly involving teenage girls. Protagonist Cady has been homeschooled in Africa for most of her life, so her enrollment in public school is a bit of a shell shock. She soon finds herself entangled in a ploy to befriend and take down The Plastics, a trio of the wealthiest and most popular girls in school. For all the wicked, antagonistic humor the film offers, it gives us a believable story with breathable, well-rounded characters.

1 The Princess Diaries (2001)

The Princess Diaries 2001

This is the franchise that inspired every young viewer in the audience to dream of discovering they were secretly royalty in a distant country. In The Princess Diaries, Mia is an outcast at school, but her life is turned upside-down when her grandmother visits. After learning that she’s due to inherit the throne from her late father, Mia’s grandmother sets out to instruct her in the ways of royalty. The A-list cast gives some pretty incredible performances, and Mia’s experiences give her the confidence and maturity she needs to take on the role of Crown Princess.

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