141 Of The Best ’80s Kids Movies
This next installment in our Best Movies series might unwillingly cause you a long walk down memory lane, so be advised to check these terribly nostalgic ‘80s kids' movies while not at work. Seriously, though, whether you were actually born in the ‘80s or the decades to come, some of these kids' movies are pure legends whose legacies will probably live on forever. Take, for instance, Back To The Future - although it is a movie directed at younger audiences, its impact on our culture and the movies to come is undeniably huge. Also, just think about Beetlejuice, a movie so original that no other director came even close to mimeographing its kooky humor and wonderfully bizarre premise. And, in my opinion, the more original and funky stuff you watch as a child, the longer your untarnished imagination stays with you as an adult. And without imagination, adult life is just… Meh.
So, let's see what awesome movies made it to our list by scrolling just a bit further down. Some of them you've probably watched a thousand times, but quite a few will probably be news to you, too. All the better, for instead of rewatching your favorites for the umpteenth time, you might as well check out something new. Who knows, maybe your next Big Movie is hiding in this list? Once you're done scrolling through these awesome 80s movies, vote for the ones that might've squeezed a tear of reminiscence joy out of you, and, as always, don't forget to share this article with your cinephile friends!
The Goonies tells a story of a group of kids who find an old treasure map and embark on a quest to find the long-lost bounty of One-Eyed Willy, a 17th-century pirate. The group lives in the Goon Docks area of Astoria, Oregon, hence The Goonies. The treasure would be the only thing saving their homes from foreclosing, so there's no question whether to search for it or not. But the task proves to be an arduous one, and The Goonies step up to the challenges with the help of, of course, their friendship.
Back To The Future
While meddling with the past isn't usually the greatest idea, it's the best thing that could've happened in the case of Marty McFly's family. And only by a lucky coincidence does he meet the eccentric scientist Emmet 'Doc' Brown and take a trip twenty years back, changing the course of time for his family in the most positive way. Back To The Future is so ingeniously made that it shaped American pop culture in many ways, making it an influential and iconic film.
1984's Ghostbusters, a supernatural comedy starring Bill Murray, is a staple movie in all of our childhoods. If you need to be reminded of its plot, it's three eccentric parapsychologists starting their ghost-catching business in New York City. While most of the entities they catch are rather funny, like Slimer and the Marshmallow Man, it's the Zuul that the guys are worried about the most. The instant the Ghostbusters hit the screen, it became a huge cultural phenomenon that granted it the title of one of the most iconic movies. And if you haven't watched it since the ‘80s, be sure to revisit it - it is still funny, it is still sly, and most importantly - legendary.
The Princess Bride
1987's The Princess Bride follows the story of a farmhand, Westley, who sets out to save his true love Princess Buttercup from the vile Prince Humperdinck. Along the way, Westley meets plenty of dubious characters who join in on the quest and help him retrieve the princess. The movie itself is based on a novel of the same name by William Goldman and faithfully follows its metafictional narrative style. Although The Princess Bride enjoyed only moderate success upon its release, it soon became a classic cult movie because of its off-kilter humor, a fresh take on romance, and, of course, quotability.
Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Okay, so while not exactly a kids’ movie, Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark was watched by plenty of us without our parents knowing. Thus, technically, it is a kids’ movie, although the scene of monkey brain dinner still haunts me. Anyway, those who grew up watching Harrison Ford's Indiana wanted to be just like him and experience all the thrilling adventures he got entangled in. This first installment in the Indiana Jones series proved to be vastly successful, spawning plenty of spin-offs and various merchandise pieces that we'd love to have.
Honey, I Shrunk The Kids
Honey, I Shrunk The Kids is a 1989 comic science fiction film centering on the story of an inventor who accidentally shrinks his and their neighbor's kids. The quarter-inch-sized children are then thrown away with trash and have to negotiate their way back home, battling various insects and navigating various hazards. Although it wasn't really an expected outcome, Honey, I Shrunk The Kids became the highest-grossing live-action Disney film and held that title for five years. Critics didn't spare any good words for this movie, and since the fans too were in love with it, Disney made sure to do two sequels to satisfy the audience's wish.
Beetlejuice is a 1988 fantasy comedy film that was the breakthrough movie for director Tim Burton. Nobody had ever seen a movie quite like this, and its ingenious plot devices, amazing costumes, and makeup paired with stellar acting quickly made Beetlejuice into a cultural icon. The movie is a thoroughly hilarious depiction of the afterlife with giant sandworms, weird entities, and dark plot twists enveloped in very original humor. A brilliantly bizarre movie that's worth revisiting once a year!
Gremlins is a 1984 horror/black comedy drawing its premise on the folklore of gremlins - mischievous creatures that cause various malfunctions in aircraft and other machinery. If you didn't know this fact, then you definitely know that you cannot let any gremlin get wet because they turn into reptilian-like demons that'll terrorize your town on Christmas Eve. And while most of us associate this movie with great fun, some scholars, wouldn't you know it, deemed it to be a great satire on Western culture. Nevertheless, Gremlins soon became a cultural legend, spawning various pieces of merchandise, a novel, video games, and even breakfast cereal.
The NeverEnding Story
The NeverEnding Story is a 1984 fantasy film based on a 1979 novel by Michael Ende. The film follows the first half of the novel, and it goes like this - a young boy happens upon a magical book that tells the story of a young warrior on a quest to stop a dark force called Nothing from destroying a wonderland called Fantasia. His story is full of fantastical beasts and animals, unbelievable quests and adventures - a truly gripping movie suitable for the entertainment of the whole family. Because of The NeverEnding Story's great success, two more sequels were produced in the later years that were also based on the same novel.
Stand By Me
Stand By Me, an adaptation of Stephen King's 1982 novella The Body, follows four boys on their quest to find the body of a missing boy. And though we usually associate King's adaptations with horror and chills, Stand By Me is a heartwarming coming-of-age movie that centers around the importance of friendship. A timeless movie that will give a feeling of nostalgia to anyone watching!
The Karate Kid
It's more than karate; it's the life lessons that made this movie into an iconic one. And also made karate hugely popular in America. It follows the story of Daniel LaRusso, who takes on karate to stand up against his bullies. His sensei, Mr. Miyagi, helps Daniel learn the art of karate while also instilling precious lessons in him. It's one of those rare movies where the message is as clear as the azure sky of mid-summer, yet it's quite profound and far from annoying. A great movie that's inspired by a real story; you just know that it will be great!
Big is a 1988 fantasy comedy starring Tom Hanks. The movie goes like this - twelve-year-old Josh Baskin asks an antique fortune-telling machine to grant his wish to become 'big.' The next morning, Josh wakes up to find he has turned into an adult overnight, and the carnival that had the machine is already off to another destination. Being the smart kid that he is, Josh builds a quite cool life for himself and even finds a lovely girl, but upon finding the malfunctioning machine, he decides to go back to being just a kid. Upon its release, Big became a massive success both commercially and critically with cinephiles, as per usual, praising Hanks' stellar performance.
Short Circuit is a 1986 science-fiction comedy film centering on the story of a military robot gaining human-like intelligence after it's been struck by lightning. And what does a robot do after gaining awareness? Why, of course, he escapes and sets out on a mission to learn more about the world! And you know what, it works - this 'fish out of water' scenario, although an old one, is done in quite a novel manner, and it is truly fun to watch a witless robot trying to grasp the ins and outs of human life.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is a 1982 science fiction film produced and directed by Steven Spielberg. And, although you might know this adorable movie as well as the palm of your hand, just a quick recap - Elliott, a normal human boy, befriends an extraterrestrial stranded on Earth. Along with his family and friends, Elliot must find a way for E.T. to return to his home planet, avoiding the grips of the earthen government. Also, an interesting fact - the inspiration for this movie is the story of Spielberg's parents' divorce, and it is essentially his autobiography. However, we are still on the fence about Steven's meeting an extraterrestrial entity…
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a 1988 live-action/animated comedy mystery film by Robert Zemeckis. It's a loose adaptation of the 1981 novel written by Gary K. Wolf and follows the story of Eddie Valiant, a private investigator who must exonerate Roger Rabbit framed for a murder. To make it even better, the movie is set in a fictional version of 1947 Hollywood where humans and cartoon characters (called 'toons') co-exist. The movie was a huge success, gaining near-universal praise from critics who stated that this movie is innovative, entertaining, and tells an original story to boot.
Willow is a 1988 epic fantasy film directed by Ron Howard. It follows the story of Willow, a Nelwyn dwarf and an aspiring sorcerer, on his mission to protect the precious infant Elora from the evil queen Bavmorda. Various characters join him on his quest - from knights to sorcerers turned to brush-tailed possums. While it was an amazing idea and an original story, Willow wasn't as successful as expected but has nonetheless become one of the iconic ‘80s kids' (and fantasy-loving adults’) movies.
The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid is Disney studios’ 1989 animated musical film inspired by an 1837 Danish fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen. You probably know what the story is about because there's no way you could've escaped The Little Mermaid growing up; in fact, none of us did! The Little Mermaid's success was of a magnitude never before seen by an animated feature and thus marked the era known as Disney's Renaissance. Soon enough, the movie became a huge cultural phenomenon, spawning a bona fide media franchise with various spin-offs, remakes, and a massive selection of merchandise.
An American Tail
1986's An American Tail became the highest-grossing non-Disney animated movie of the time. Why, you ask? Well, because this animated movie is both heartwarming and heart-breaking, original and painstakingly familiar. Mix all that with exquisite hand-drawn animation, and you have yourself an undying classic. And while some critics deemed it to be way too depressing for the younger audiences, we all need to see at least one sad story growing up.
Flight Of The Navigator
Flight Of The Navigator is a 1986 science fiction adventure film following the story of twelve-year-old David Freeman. He's just a regular boy who gets entangled in quite irregular circumstances - he's abducted by aliens and transported from 1978 to 1986. It was one of the first Hollywood movies to use extensive CGI effects and to use an electronic music soundtrack. It was also the first major role for then very young Sarah Jessica Parker. Flight Of The Navigator has since become a cult classic with a huge following from Disney and science fiction fans.
The Land Before Time
The Land Before Time is a 1988 animated adventure drama film that's responsible for copious amounts of tears shed by kids throughout the decades. It starts with a little dinosaur called Littlefoot losing his mom (cue the tears) and running to the land unknown to escape a famine. During the course of his journey, he encounters a group of similarly-fated young dinosaurs of diverse species as they travel together into a brighter future. Of course, their quest is hindered by vicious dinosaurs and various hazards - so it's basically a suspenseful thriller for kids. Despite being quite an unnerving watch, The Land Before Time became a massive box office success and later spawned several sequels and an animated series spin-off.