Top 5 kids movies of the 80s

This was a tough list, because there are some great children’s movies that didn’t make the list, like “The Neverending  Story” “The Little Mermaid” and “Labyrinth” and “E.T.” We also should mention that movies like “The Breakfast Club” were not included because those are more targeted to teens. These are movies targeted at kids and families. There was a great selection of kids flicks in the 80s, and these are the ones we hold closest to our hearts.

5. The Goonies: This movie would be higher on the list if it weren’t for a couple corny monologues about “Our time down here” and wishes not coming true at the bottom of a well. But all things considered, this is a classic that’s withstood time. This movie doesn’t feel super 80s, either. Sure, the fashion is a little lame, but this movie could be made now and be a success. Chester Copperpot would be proud.


4. Stand by Me: This was a very sentimental film, but it knew when to pull back and lighten the moment with humor, fantasy and suspense. While the storyline may seem bleak for children — a group of boys goes on the search for the body of a missing boy — the fibers of this film are strong because it’s really about a universal subject all children face: the loss of innocence. All of these characters are someone we knew as children, the abused, the insecure, the weak, the arrogant, the dreamer. It’s not about the goal, it’s about the bonds between friends and the challenges in life they’re trying to escape.


3. The Princess Bride: This film has it all — adventure, romance, hilarious characters, delightful villains, an enchanting world and a classic story with a fresh voice. Rob Reiner did a stupendous job of bringing a romance/fantasy movie that didn’t take itself too seriously. There are elements to this story that can be enjoyed by all ages.

2. Back to the Future: Don’t need money, don’t need fame, don’t need no credit card to ride this train…. But you do need plutonium. I ❤ back to the future. I love Doc Brown, Einstein the dog, Marty, the McFly family, the mean principal, the DeLorean, Biff, and even the soundtrack. Academy Award-winning director Robert Zemeckis (Forest Gump) brings us a fun, adventurous film that bridged the gap between 80s kids and their parents who grew up in the 50s and 60s. I even love the sequels. If you don’t like this movie, you can make like a tree and get outta here.

1. Karate Kid: I must have seen this movie six times in the theater when I was a kid. I adored it. My brother and I karate chopped each other into oblivion — crane kicks and all. This is one of the best coming-of-age movies ever, with a wonderful combination of a come-from-behind tale, action, comedy, and drama. Pat Morita was flawless in his delivery of Mr. Kesuke Miyagi, the teacher, the father figure, the wise man with a broken heart and no family. But he finds those parts of himself again in Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio), a Jersey kid new to California that gets picked on by a group of local karate bullies. The two bond, Daniel grows into a man, and becomes stronger while  Miyagi grows softer, less rigid. This is a movie that will always live on — even if there’s remakes. Sweep the leg.

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15 responses to “Top 5 kids movies of the 80s

  1. Antonio D'Arcangelis

    I agree wholeheartedly with your choices here, MAtt. Here’s a few more good ones that I’d rank in my top 15 kids’ movies from the 80s…

    Time Bandits (1981) — Nothing like dwarfs unstuck in time — eventually running around on the top of some sea-dude’s dome and meeting Sean Connery.

    Willow (1988)– There’s something about midgets. Maybe I have a little person fetish, or maybe it could be that I love early Val Kilmer movies (a little of both?)

    The Last Starfighter (1984) — While there’s some themes that may have been targeted at teens, I watched this when I was nine and loved everything about it — the plot, the characters, the recruitment of trailer-park teenager to use his video game skills to save a planet in a distant galaxy. What’s not to like?

    Big (1988) — At 13, I was a lot like Josh Bashkin (Davis Moscow — of future “Newsies” fame — plays young Josh), except a couple pubes more tweeny. Tom Hanks nails this one, except for the fact that he’s not trying to bang Elizabeth Perkins when she stays at his apartment. The kid is supposed to be 12, right? I constantly had wood at 12, and I was looking to put it anyplace I could. Liz Perkins would have seemed like an appropriate receptacle.

    Return of the Jedi (1983) — Let’s face it, ROTJ is a kids’ movie. From the Ewoks to the saccharin ending, this thing oozes family entertainment. I had a freakin’ ROTJ children’s book, complete with full-page, color shots of scenes in the movie (I had similar books for Flash Gordon and The Dark Crystal….OOH, OOH!)

    The Dark Crystal (1982) — Jim Henson’s brilliance wasn’t confined to Sesame Street, the Muppets, and Fraggle Rock.When it was released, it was the only live action film in which a human actor didn’t make an appearance. This one was a little creepy for kids, but it was clearly marketed toward a young demographic. And I ate it up, gelfings and all.

  2. What’s with the life preserver? Dork think he’s gonna drown.

  3. I think I’m one of the only people on Earth who didn’t care for Stand By Me. I didn’t like it then and don’t like it now. I’m not sure why, since it’s got all the elements of a good film, but something there just didn’t do it for me.

  4. from the title of the list i expected more movies geared specifically for kids. things like monster squad and wizard.

    • Monster Squad was in consideration. I loved that movie as a kid. I think all of these are kids movies, and what makes them stand out are that I still love them as an adult, just for different reasons.

      We could have gone with Transformers and G.I. Joe cartoon movies, too, but these were about kids movies that stand the test of time. We felt like the bulk of those seeing these movies were kids.

  5. No Gremlins? Or Pee Wee’s Big Adventure?

  6. Pingback: Movies that defined us « The Movie Brothers

  7. This is a good post and may be one that you should followed up to see what are the results

    A pal sent this link the other day and I will be excitedly hoping for your next page. Proceed on the extraordinary work.

  8. I love all these movies!

  9. Pingback: The Karate Kid (2010) « The Movie Brothers

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