Movies Your Kids Should Watch- Top 20 Classic (80's) Films For Kids

I have a list of films that I think it is my g-d given duty to make sure my monkeys watch, love and laugh at the right parts.
This 'best of' top twenty list combines my favorites as girl, filtered with Dr. J’s favorite as a boy and tested on two contemporary boys. A few of these films my monkeys have seen more than once and we started watching them around when my youngest was five.  Most of these would be entertaining for 5 and older.
I hate movie rating (I always picture a parent holding their kids hand to ‘guide’ them through a PG13 movie). It is the quality of the story and overall message of the film that is important- not whether they say shit or show nudity. Furthermore the more laughter and repeatable lines a movie has the better it is.

Here is a list of films that in my opinion are classics (I grew up in the 1980's) and that Dr J and I both watched as a kids and now as parents with our monkeys.

Princess Bride- (1987) The opening scene with Fred Savage was a favorite of mine as a kid because I had such a crush on him from the Wonder Years series. The fact that it replayed itself in real life when I first introduced the concept of seeing a film called PRINCESS BRIDE to my boys is hilarious.
Grandson: A book? 
Grandfather: That's right. When I was your age, television was called books. And this is a special book. It was the book my father used to read to me when I was sick, and I used to read it to your father. And today I'm gonna read it to you. 
Grandson: Has it got any sports in it? 
Grandfather: Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles... 
Grandson: Doesn't sound too bad. I'll try to stay awake. 

Grandfather: Oh, well, thank you very much, very nice of you. Your vote of confidence      
                                     is overwhelming. 
Great line is of course: Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
This is story of adventure, love, conspiracy and overcoming adversity.   The losers are 'laugh out loud' funny and the sword fighting scenes are amazing.

Gremlins- (1984) This story is about an inventor who find a pet for his son in a creepy Chinatown shop.  The Mogwai is a cute cuddly creature (that I happen to really badly want as a child) that must be taken care of abiding by three rules.  As all good stories often unfold; the rules are broken and chaos ensues.
This film might be scary for some kids but with the advances in film technology, the effects seem very unrealistic to my boys- making even the famous Gremlin in a blender scene seem laughable.
So, when your washing machine blows up or your TV goes on the fritz, before you call the repair man, turn on all the lights and look under all the beds. 'Cause you never can tell, there just might be a gremlin in your house.
As an aside my older monkey can make the Mogwai 'singing' noise too well.

Beatle Juice (1988)- I love the music and dancing in this film, in fact I discovered Harry Belafonte because of this film. The movie came out when I thought Winona Ryder was uber cool even before Reality Bites.   In classic Tim Burton style it combines humor with death and decay. The film is about a country living, house restoring couple who discover their death when an artsy family moves in and starts knocking walls down. The Monkeys favorite part is when they go to the underworld and see all the freaky people and BJ gets his head shrunk after trying to steal a tribal man’s number.
BJ: Hey, there goes Elvis! Yo, King! (switches numbers) 
Well, looks like I'm next. Good thing, too. I gotta do a photo shoot for GQ in about an hour and a half. Yeah, they've been after me for months. Doin' some underwear deal. I don't know what... (tribal guy sprinkles powder on BJ’s head and it starts shrinking)
Whoa, hey! What are you doing? Hey, stop it! Hey, you're messing up my hair! C'mon!                   
Whoa! Whoa! Stop it!... Hey, this might be a good look for me. 

A Christmas Story-(1983) Ralphie just wants a BB Gun but everyone keeps on telling him he is going to shoot his eye out. He has a really nice mom who lets his little brother hide under the kitchen sink and act like a dog but hates his dad’s new lamp.
Although it is technically a Christmas film I think it is hilarious any time of the year and my monkeys agree.  Memorable scenes that make us all laugh out loud include when he gets his tongue stuck on a metal post and when he has his mouth washed out with a bar of soap. Not sure if it is Jewish humor appreciation but my monkeys think the sitting on Santa's lap scene is super funny.

ET- (1982) Um I don't remember using the line 'Penis breath' after seeing this movie as a kid- but my monkeys think that is hilarious.  This film is about a boy who finds an Extra Terrestrial and tries to keep him hidden in his house.  Steven Spielberg is obviously great and this film is well known for being one of the highest grossing films of it's time as well as the first film which explored the possibilities of product placement.  
My Monkeys particularly like the scenes where everyone is wearing radioactive suits.  Drew Barrymore was a break out star and I loved her when I was a kid and I still think she is super cute to watch.

Stand by me- (1986) I pretty much had a crush on all four characters.  The story is about four friends who go on an adventure to find the dead body of a boy. Their adventure is a classic tale of boyhood mischief full of tall tales and close calls. Based on the novel by Stephen King titled The Body this film is a classic. My Monkeys particularly enjoyed the pie eating contest:
What the audience didn't know was that Lardass wasn't really interested in winning. What he wanted was revenge, and right before he was introduced he'd gotten ready for it. (flashback of Lardass drinking Castor Oil and eating a raw egg before the contest). 
There is a lot of swearing in this film. 
Ghostbusters (1984) Three scientist set up a business in an old fire house to trap ghosts and save New York from pesky supernatural spirits- They inadvertently release a world from another dimension and must conquer the forces of evil.
The Monkeys love it Marshmallow man:
I tried to think of the most harmless thing– something that I loved from my childhood, something that would never ever possibly destroy us: Mr. Stay-Puft. Funny us going out like this. Killed by a hundred-foot marshmallow man. c

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)- Again I had huge crushes on these guys.  As a mom I think this adventure is an excellent way to give monkeys a crash course in history that can be further developed.  The Monkeys, not so shockingly loved many of the naughty historical figures and we've been taking books out of the library to supplement their interest.

Bill: It is indeed a pleasure to introduce to you a gentleman we picked up in medieval Mongolia in the year 1269. 
Ted: Please welcome, the very excellent barbarian... 
Ted: This is a dude who, 700 years ago, totally ravaged China, and who, we were told, 2 hours ago, totally ravaged Oshman's Sporting Goods. 

Twins- (1988) Following an experiment to produce a perfect being Arnold Schwarzenegger discovers that he has a twin brother. Comedy ensues when he finds his unlikely twin, a small time crook played by Danny Devito.
Julius: My name is Julius and I am your twin brother. 
Vincent : Oh, obviously! The moment I sat down I thought I was looking into a mirror. 
Vincent: You could be a boxer or something. I could be your manager. 
Julius: No, I could never fight for money. 
Vincent: Well that's fine. You fight, I'll keep the money. 
As a girl I thought this film was funny and enjoyed both actors.  My monkeys loved the whole 'brothers forever' aspect of the story. 

Labyrinth (1986)- This film is about a young girl who wishes away her baby half brother whom she is stuck babysitting. In a classic case of 'be careful what you wish for' the baby is stolen my the goblin king and Sarah must complete a labyrinth or her brother will be turned into a goblin. 
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young girl whose stepmother always made her stay home with the baby. And the baby was a spoiled child, and wanted everything for himself, and the young girl was practically a slave. But what no one knew is that the king of the goblins had fallen in love with the girl, and he had given her certain powers. So one night, when the baby had been particularly cruel to her, she called on the goblins for help!

Batteries not includes-(1987) A group of tenants living in a building set for demolition is visited by aliens who help them fight off the bad guys.
Jessica Tandy is great in this film. As a girl I remember thinking how cute the machines are and the intricacy of the machinery and parts certainly appeals to the monkeys.

Home Alone- (1990 not an 80's film but a childhood favorite)
This is slap stick comedy at it's finest.
Kevin: took a shower washing every body part with actual soap; including all my major crevices; including in between my toes and in my belly button which I never did before but sort of enjoyed. I washed my hair with adult formula shampoo and used cream rinse for that just-washed shine. I can't seem to find my toothbrush, so I'll pick one up when I go out today. Other than that, I'm in good shape. 
The monkeys love all the traps that Kevin sets up- The tar and nails bit particularly stands out and my monkey was wondering out loud if that would get infected.  

Never Ending story (1984) Tormented by bullies a young boy finds refuge in a book shop and finds an ancient story book.  He is warned it can be dangerous but as he begins to read it he is drawn into the mythical land of Fantasia which is in desperate need of a hero to save it from destruction.

Mr. K: The video arcade is down the street. Here we just sell small rectangular objects. They're called books. They require a little effort on your part, and make no bee-bee-bee-bee-beeps. On your way please. 

Peewee's big adventures (1985) I didn't really like this so much when I saw it as a kid.  When Dr. J insisted the kids would like it- which they did, I also found a new appreciating for this film.

PW: There's a lotta things about me you don't know anything about, Dottie. Things you wouldn't understand. Things you couldn't understand. Things you shouldn't understand. 
Dottie: I don't understand. 
PW: You don't wanna get mixed up with a guy like me. I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel. So long, Dott. 

Willy Wonka (1971) This film is a must see in it's original production.  I was shocked to find out it came out WAY before I was born.  I remember seeing it on TV often as a child of the 80's.  Obviously the new version with Johnny Depp is a favorite for my monkeys but I still think it is important for everyone to see the original.
One of my favorite lines is:

WW: The strawberries taste like strawberries, and the snozzberries taste like snozzberries. 
Veruca: Snozzberries? Who ever heard of a snozzberry? 
WW: We are the music makers... and *we* are the dreamers of dreams. 

Goonies- (1985) Two brothers are facing having to move unless they are able to find the money to pay off golf course developers.They end up finding a treasure map.  Along with their friends they call themselves 'The Goonies' and go on a quest with the hope of saving their neighborhood.

Francis:  Tell us everything! Everything! Chuck: Everything. OK! I'll talk! In third grade, I cheated on my history exam. In fourth grade, I stole my uncle Max's toupee and I glued it on my face when I was Moses in my Hebrew School play. In fifth grade, I knocked my sister Edie down the stairs and I blamed it on the dog... When my mom sent me to the summer camp for fat kids and then they served lunch I got nuts and I pigged out and they kicked me out... But the worst thing I ever done - I mixed a pot of fake puke at home and then I went to this movie theater, hid the puke in my jacket, climbed up to the balcony and then, t-t-then, I made a noise like this: hua-hua-hua-huaaaaaaa - and then I dumped it over the side, all over the people in the audience. And then, this was horrible, all the people started getting sick and throwing up all over each other. I never felt so bad in my entire life. 

Harry and the Hendersons-(1987) A Frankenstein story of a family finding a ‘big foot’ while returning from a camping trip. Portrayed and perceived as a monster the family fights for their loved Harry. There is lots of swearing in this film which made it extra funny for my monkeys.
I wanted King Kong, you brought me a goddamn giant gerbil. I told you exactly what to do. You didn't even come close. 

Back To The Future- I am not a big fan of 'series' but make the exception in this case- 
These next three summaries are written by my monkeys- together in brotherly love. 


Is about a scientist named Doc and he built a time traveling car and he steals plutonium to fuel the car. His friend Marty travels back in time and meets his parents. Things get messed up when his mom falls in love with HIM instead of his father. It’s up to Marty to get his parents back together again and make it back to the future and save Doc from the angry Liberian who want their plutonium back. By hooking up a cord to the clock tower which they know is going to be struck by lightning and will send the time machine back to the future.


In Two Marty and his girlfriend Jenny are married and have kids (or you can call them monkeys). Their kids are in danger and are going to get sent to jail for listening to a gang.  It is up to Marty and Jenny to save their children and the future.


In the final back to the future they have to go back in time to the wild west because Doc always wanted to be a cowboy so he hid the car in an abandoned mine.  Marty gets to meet his great grandfather who is just a baby.  Marty and Doc have to change things again to save themselves.

What films did you love as a child and want your children to be exposed to?


Dharma said...

Great list, Lady! I'd agree with every one of those choices and have had/made my guys watch a number of these movies. May I suggest The Dark Crystal (Jim Henson's first movie)???? It really is not to be missed. :) When they are older The Breakfast Club is mandatory!

Happy viewing.

The Barefoot Crofter said...

Loved this - like a revisiting of Friday nights with my older children. i did get a bit worried as I neared the end and hadn't seen The Goonies - but they were there :)
Dumb and Dumber - but that might have been 90s.
Great list

Anonymous said...

You got all my favorites that I was going to suggest! Stand By Me and Labyrinth were top of my list. Good job.

jeanette from everton terrace said...

Wow, I'm not sure you missed any. GREAT great great list. I was thinking The Neverending Story but then you had it. I've seen all but two, Batteries not Included and Pee Wee - he just bugs me. Princess Bride is one of my all time favorites and we often use the Inigo Montoya line in our house and the "have fun stormin' the castle". I also love love the "I do not think that means what you think it means" line. Better stop, I could go on and on with this movie, it was genius.

Mon Alisa Design said...

Yay for 80's movies! I have most of these and the girls love them. "Flight of the Navigator" and "Short Circuit" are good too. Thankyou for your comment on my blog too. I need all the help I can get! x

Clair said...

The Wizard of Oz- with Dorthy and
Toto and the Tin Man and the
Scarecrow and the Lion. I cried when my mother took me to see Bambi. I loved Snow White and...
I am of the Walt Disney generation. I have seen some of your recommendations, it is a great list.

Mo Pie, Please said...

I absolutely agree with you! I think the only one I've never seen is Batteries Not Included. I have seen all of the rest and loved them all!

Getrealmommy said...

okay, I realize that I am hormonal, but the list made me so nastolgic I am stitting here near tears. I love those 80's movies. I remember just being old enough to be dropped off at the theater with my friends BY MYSELF. I had a huge crush on Michael J Fox (didn't we all), and River Pheonix after Stand By Me. Oh the memories....

Mama Gone Green said...

Oh! I love all of those. Seriously, I watched Princess Bride, Goonies, Stand By Me and Neverending Story about a million times a piece when I was a kid. I am just waiting for Finn to get older to introduce him to these movie greats!

Tanya (a Taste of T) said...

Great choices. I think you need some Dirty Dancing and Kindergarten Cop too

anushka said...

this is a great list and totally brings me back to my childhood. i would have to add all the pippi longstocking movies and the t.v. series to that list as well as mary poppins, bedknobs and broomsticks, the sound of music, and annie. loved all those movies too.

Vlaarie said...

WOW, this was fun to revisit all of these fun films. I forgot about Harry and the Hendersons. One favorite movie you forgot was Pippi Longstockings but she may have been in the 70's. Ok maybe you didn't miss Pippi.Thanks for a great movie list.

la petite coquine said...

I'm embarrassed to admit I haven't seen half of these-and I grew up in the era of the Goonies!

I would add the Father of the Bride remakes-so sweet!

Lovely World said...

Although it is not from the 80s, Willow is a great film. Also, Close Encounters of the Third Kind could be on this list.

The Princess Bride is my family's all-time favorite movie. We recite lines back and forth to each other. My son recently walked around repeating over and over "Have fun storming the castle."

drollgirl said...

you have some great pics here! i saw a movie last year that would be perfect for this list, but i cannot think of the name.

the anne of green gables series is also great!

a new girl in vienna said...

oh my, so many good ones!

Brandi {not your average ordinary} said...

Awesome, awesome list. I completely agree with all of your choices. The 80s really produced some fantastic movies (and television shows too). Sigh, I'm so nostalgic now...

Krystal said...

ok this is weird but one of my favorite movies was edward scissorhands, i LOVED it. and i would say ET but you have it covered :) Looooved this list, brought back some great mems!!

Kimia Kline said...

AWWW! i love this post!! made me smile :) one of the movies i would add is Hook with Robin Williams. That's STILL my all time favorite movie :)

Lady Grey said...

Oh man, this list makes me smile! You've got some of my all time favourites here. I couldn't agree more!

Galit said...

Awesome list!! Marking it down.
It's too early for my little miss (she's turning 3 in 3 months).
She's watching Mary Poppins, Curious George and Tarzan at the moment.

Hey, maybe make another list for under 4?

le blÖg d'Ötli said...

Thank you! What a nice list... Now I have to go and buy some of these movies and... watch them ;)

Kristin Hjellegjerde said...

Thank you for the list, this will be handy! Have a lovely day! Excited about the Oscar's!

Diana Mieczan said...

I think you got it all!!! I love that list and Im also not a huge fan of movie rating!
You totally inspired me to re-watch some of my favourites like the Willy Wonka or the Twins:) Kisses and enjoy your Thursday

Kelley at My Island Wedding said...

excellent choices! ( i like how you included willy wonka with Gene Wilder... even tho not in the 80's) altho i still can't watch it without getting the nightmares i had as a kid again!!

can't wait to browse more of your fun blog!

bklyn76 said...

so many great memories looking at this list! i can't wait till my wee one is old enough to enjoy all of them!

Pat Tillett said...

"You'll put your eye out!"
What a great list of movies.
I think I have most of them on VHS, but no way to play them now!!!

Amanda said...

My babies aren't old enough yet, but this is a great list! I will add to this list...
~Airplane! 1980
~The Jerk 1979
~The Secret of NYHM 1982

Dani said...

Excellent list! Many of these are favorites around this house as well.

The Princess Bride, Goonies, Spaceballs (The Boy's choice, not mine), Pee Wee, Karate Kid, Adventures In Babysitting, Christmas Story...so many!

Where is my popcorn?

Brissa said...

gremlins AND beetle juice?!?! those movies scared me so much i STILL can't watch them. your kids are so much braver than i am.

Susan said...

Princess Bride is the winner for our household!

Susan said...

Princess Bride is the all-time winner with our family! I actually first read the book in 1976 and convinced my boyfriend to read it as well. He thought it sounded girlie and read it out of love for me. He loved it! So, I married him.

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