10 Not-to-be-Missed 80’s Movies Your Kids Need to Watch

The hair and fashion of the 80’s may have been awful. But we had some really great movies back then. After all, this was the decade of teen flicks. And common themes were hormonal angst, school cliques, unlikely friendships, and struggles with parents. Sound like your daily dilemma?

So if you’re feeling nostalgic, show your kids you’ve been through it all before with a flashback to the best 80’s films. Warning: Spoilers below.

Back to the Future

1985, PG

Guess what? Your parents were once young and vulnerable and full of angst too. They made it through those difficult years and so will you. As the film so aptly puts it: “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” Flash through the decades and give your kiddo comfort in the fact that teenage troubles are the same no matter the year.

Say Anything

1989, PG-13

A classic love story, Lloyd and Diane fall in love the summer after high school graduation. He’s a noble underachiever with few career options – other than kickboxing, that is. She’s the shy class valedictorian with a fellowship to study in England.

They fight to overcome disapproval from their family and friends, like any soul mates would. The best scene from the film? When sweet Lloyd shows up at Diane’s house late at night and serenades her with his boom box. Proof positive that, “The world is full of guys. Be a man.”

The Breakfast Club

1985, R

If you’re only going to watch one teenage flick from the 80’s, this has got to be it. It resonates with teens of every generation.

The brain, the athlete, the basketcase, the princess, and the criminal – five high school kids from different cliques spend a long Saturday in detention. And they find out how much they have in common. Each one is fighting their own battles – and each one has problems at home. “We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.” Let your kids know they’re not alone!

Pretty in Pink

1986, PG-13

This is the story of Andie and Blane – the working class girlie misfit who falls in love with the rich, popular boy. His friends disapprove. Her best friend Duckie (who has a crush on her) disapproves. But the ultimate theme of this movie is learning to stand up for yourself.

Blane breaks up with Andie before prom but she doesn’t let that stop her from going. “I just want them to know that they didn’t break me.” Blane makes an early exit but not before he whispers in Andie’s ear, “You said you couldn’t be with someone who didn’t believe in you. Well I believed in you. I just didn’t believe in me. I love you… always.” Swoon…

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

1982, PG

Bring tissues. It’s hard to even think about this movie without getting teary eyed. E.T. is left in the forest after his space ship makes an emergency take off. Elliot and his siblings find the alien and take him in. Viewers are left to grapple with the difficult subjects of separation and loss. Learning to hold someone in your heart is tough for adults and kids. You know Elliot will never forget his new friend when E.T. says goodbye. “I’ll be right here.” You may associate this film with a younger audience, but teenagers – more than anyone – need to believe in love.

Dead Poets Society

1989, PG

Robin Williams stars as John Keating, an English teacher at a 1950’s all boys school. Keating uses unconventional methods to teach the boys that “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” Through Keating, the boys learn to take risks, find passion, and to think for themselves. “Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” So should your teen.

The Princess Bride

1987, PG

Leave this one off the list? Inconceivable! This classic 80’s film teaches many things. Notable, “Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line.”

But more relevant - Loyalty. Westley is true to Buttercup even though years and miles keep them apart. And Inigo is loyal to his father’s legacy. The other lesson? Death cannot stop true love. Even when Buttercup concedes herself to Westley’s death, she never stops loving him. “As you wish.”


1988, PG

Being a kid is hard knocks… Or is it? That’s the basis for this 80’s film starring a very young Tom Hanks. Twelve year-old Josh goes to a carnival and makes a wish “to be big.” He wakes up the next morning in the body of a 30 year old man. He soon finds out that big people have big problems, too. Show your kids the mega benefits to being young.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

1981, PG

Indiana Jones is a notable archaeologist. He’s hired by the U.S. government to recover the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis can find it.

This film was created as a throwback to the serial adventures of the 30’s and 40’s. Indy can fight with swords, explore ancient tombs, and hold his own against ruthless Nazis. But we find out he has one fear. “Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?” When lessons feel heavy handed, sit down with this film for a good old-fashioned adventure.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

1986, PG

Young Ferris has a habit of playing hooky – and having a good time. As his senior year is ending, Ferris decides to have one last hurrah. He skips school, “borrows” a Ferrari and spends the day in downtown Chicago with his girlfriend and best buddy. A teenage dream come true!

Along the way, Ferris shows us the importance of having good friends – and of having a good time. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

What are some of your favorite 80’s flicks to watch with your hormonal youngster? Share them with us in the comments below!

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Tags : movies   films   cinema   80s   

Tricia Goss
Awesome list! I would also add Neverending Story, because sometimes it feels like the Nothing is overtaking you when you're a kid (or a grownup).