Popular film texts are powerful means by which Western societies construct, maintain, protect and challenge concepts of childhood and youth-hood. As a context where audiences learn about the self, their culture, and their place within it, popular film is understood here as pedagogic, that is, as a space where key lessons about the formation of subjecthood might take place, and at what costs. This article takes into account scholarship on popular culture as pedagogy, challenging narrow notions of popular film as a simple transmission of knowledge. Focused on how pedagogies might be at work, this article explores the use of humour, repetition, otherness, becoming and sentimentality within a selection of Australian films, and how they orientate audiences towards knowing the youth subject in particular ways. Questions of generation and how it is constructed as a commonsense battle between 'young' and 'old' are considered through the coming-of-age films, The Rage in Placid Lake (2003), Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger (2008), Crackers (1998) and Spider & Rose (1994).