14 '80s movies you need to show your kids today

Photo: The Princess Bride
Photo: The Princess Bride 

Every generation has their flicks. My parents made me sit through Lawrence of Arabia and The Godfather, but few flicks are as generationally relevant as the classic '80s films so many of us grew up watching.

I'm looking at you, John Hughes. You defined a generation. You taught us what it meant to be an angsty teen. You provided us with hours upon hours of VHS enjoyment!

I quickly started brainstorming my favourite movies from my childhood that my kids MUST see. It isn't pretty — '80s fashion leaves much to be desired — but the stories stand the test of time and give kids a glimpse at life before cell phones, texting, and the Internet, along with some great life lessons.

Read on to see what you should add to your family's movie-night list now.

1. Big

Year: 1988

Why you should show it: The classic tale of a boy wishing to be big only to find his dream come true will hit home for adults and kids alike. And while your kids can't visit FAO Schwarz to play on the big piano anymore (the store closed July 2015), the scene continues to be one of the most fun — ever!

What to watch out for: The Tom Hanks and Elizabeth Banks sleepover scene is innocent, but the innuendo could raise questions you're not prepared to answer.

2. Adventures in Babysitting


Year: 1987

Why you should show it: One of my favourites as a kid, Elisabeth Shue plays the ill-fated babysitter who must take her charges into the big city. There are car chases, big '80s shoulder pads, and a superhero-loving little girl who is nothing short of awesome.

What to watch out for: There's more swearing in the film than we typically hear in a PG movie these days, and there is a mention of Playboy that may raise some questions from younger kids.

3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Year: 1982

Why you should show it: Where do I start? A 7-year-old Drew Barrymore? Classic lines like "E.T. phone home"? Or the story of a little boy's love for his alien friend? It's a classic tale that every child must see — even if it feels a bit dated (my kids called out the '80s-style special effects pretty quickly, but it didn't ruin the magic).

What to watch out for: The scenes with the scientists are a bit scary for younger kids. But more importantly, it's just sad. Be prepared for some tears — yours and your kids'.

4. Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Year: 1986

Why you should show it: Is there a single adult out there who doesn't still love Ferris Bueller? The most popular boy in school, his hot girlfriend, and his downtrodden best friend make for the greatest "squad" of all time. There are both funny and sentimental scenes, classic lines ("Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it!"), and enough life lessons to last, well, a lifetime.

What to watch out for: Definitely better suited for the tweens and teens in your home, the rebellious film — and the police station scene with Jennifer Gray and Charlie Sheen — features themes that are definitely mature.

5. Back to the Future

Year: 1985

Why you should show it: After all of the hoopla surrounding Back to the Future Day last year, your kids probably heard about it. Now that you're a parent, you'll see this flick from a whole new perspective. But your kids will love the concept of a teen seeing his own parents as kids. Plus, the DeLorean.

What to watch out for: That kissing scene between Michael J. Fox and Lea Thompson — the idea of a child kissing his mother in that way will definitely have you squirming in your seat.

6. The Goonies

Year: 1985

Why you should show it: I have to admit this one wasn't on my original list (I never quite "got" it, I'm more of a Stand by Me girl), but my husband insists it is the greatest '80s movie of all time. Steven Spielberg's true buddy film, it's the story of a group of neighbourhood kids on a treasure hunt trying to save their neighbourhood from developers.

What to watch out for: Swear words, there are a lot of them!

7. Ghostbusters

Year: 1984

Why you should show it: Yes, I know a remake is coming out this year. And yes, I know it will be an all-female cast. But it doesn't get more genius than Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray. There's a green ghost that slimes its victims, simple special effects, a great theme song, and, of course, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

What to watch out for: The simple special effects definitely feel dated, but that's OK. After a few minutes, kids won't even notice.

8. Beetlejuice

Year: 1988

Why you should show it: It's silly. It's whimsical. It features the most classic dinner party scene, probably ever. And then there's Winona Ryder (no '80s movie list would be complete without a Winona movie — Mermaids, anyone?).

What to watch out for: It is a bit scary at times, but nothing bigger kids can't handle.

9. The Princess Bride

Year: 1987

Why you should show it: Just like the little boy in the movie, my boys put up a fight about seeing this "princess" movie when I turned it on one night — and then they stayed up an hour past their bedtime to see the ending. With its unique storytelling technique, sweet story, and quotes that can pretty much explain life, this is sure to become one of your kids' favourites.

What to watch out for: Nothing. It is beyond safe for every age group.

10. Top Gun

Year: 1986

Why you should show it: If for no other reason than to show your kids who Tom Cruise was before all of the craziness! But there's also the great naval pilot story and, of course, the bathroom serenade scene.

What to watch out for: This one's definitely for your teen, but well worth it!

11. Rocky IV

Year: 1985

Why you should show it: I would have placed the original Rocky on the list, but that one's actually from 1976. Rocky IV epitomizes US-Russian relations in the '80s, and sadly, it isn't that different today. There are a few great fight scenes, but it is the soundtrack that will stay with your kids long after the closing credits — that, and Rocky's line after winning over Drago's hometown crowd, "I guess what I'm trying to say, is that if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change!"

What to watch out for: Younger kids may be upset by the death of Apollo Creed, but it also helps put the current Creed film into perspective.

12. The Karate Kid

Year: 1984

Why you should show it: Do your kids a favour and don't show them the most recent remake of this classic. Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita are the masters, and their relationship is one for the ages. Plus, the Halloween party just may have inspired my sixth-grade costume (the shower . . . thanks, Dad!).

What to watch out for: Nothing. This one is full of good, clean fun.

13. Can't Buy Me Love

Year: 1987

Why you should show it: Cindy Mancini had it all, didn't she? I mean, the convertible Cabriolet (I may have begged my parents for one at the time) and McDreamy before anyone even realised it! Sure, the storyline was predictable, but there are lessons in there that kids today can benefit from, too.

What to watch out for: Not much. It's perfection!

14. Pretty in Pink

Year: 1986

Why you should show it: Duckie, Andie, Blane! It doesn't get more '80s than this! The classic tale of the girl from the wrong side of the tracks and the rich boy she falls for certainly isn't original, but Andie is so lovable that you can't help but fall for her yourself. And Duckie's wackiness is a true lesson in acceptance.

What to watch out for: Nothing other than crazy Miami Vice-style clothing!

This story originally appeared on POPSUGAR Australia, read it here.