My husband and I recently joined Netflix and were enjoying lots of live streaming options since we had given up satellite service 8 months before. And when we started exploring which DVDs to put in our queue to come to our house, we realized that there were lots of movies from our childhood that we had loved, yet our kids have never even heard of, let alone seen. We decided to introduce them to the classics of our childhood, and as we go through each one, the kids are thrilled with these new adventures. Even though these films have outdated clothes and music and special effects that are somewhat laughable by today’s standards, the stories have endured, and our kids have asked to watch them several times before sending them back for the next film. Below are some of our favorite 80s family movies; enjoy them as you rediscover the magic of these 80s movies for kids with a whole new generation.
Back To The Future (1985)
The whole Back to the Future trilogy is great, but there’s something special about the original film’s story that grabs people of all ages. Follow Marty McFly as he goes back in time, meets his parents while they’re in high school, and must make sure they meet and fall in love, or else he and his siblings will have never been born. The catch? His mom is falling in love with him instead, and his dad can’t seem to stand up to the school bully, Biff, to get it together enough to even ask his mom on a date. Full of humor, classic 80s music and references, and stars that make this fun story come to life, Back to the Future is an absolute must-see.
Flight of the Navigator (1986)
On a recent trip to Disney World, our family took a trip on the Backlot Tour at Hollywood Studios. There, we came face-to-face with relics from old Disney films, including one the original spaceships used to make Flight of the Navigator. My husband and I both remembered loving this movie, and when we showed it to our kids, they instantly loved it too. The adventure starts when David, only 12 years old, gets lost in the woods, and when he comes back, realizes that it’s 8 years into the future, only he hasn’t aged at all. He is commandeered by NASA to study his brain, as it keeps giving out an image of a spaceship that matches a relic they found in the desert. David must escape the research lab, reunite with the ship, and find his way home in the past, or forever be stuck 8 years in the future as a living science experiment. With the help of a young Sarah Jessica Parker who plays a lab assistant and a robot named Max, David goes on a sci-fi adventure that kids will love.
The Karate Kid (1984)
While this movie was just remade (don’t get me started), nothing can top the spirit of the original film. When Daniel moves from New Jersey to LA with his mom, he feels completely out of place and wants to go home. He’s being bullied at school, and the ex-boyfriend of the girl he likes continually wants to beat him up. Battered and down, the handyman from his apartment complex, Mr. Miyagi, takes him under his wing and teaches him all about the discipline of karate. The two strike up a friendship, help each other, and in true movie fashion, good wins out over evil in the end. The story is timeless, but this version shines with actors who bring it life in a real and compelling way.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
I still remember going to see this movie in the theater and thinking it was one of the best I’d ever seen (I was 10). While my taste in movies has evolved since elementary school, watching this with my own kids brought back great memories. We all enjoyed this sci-fi adventure when four kids accidentally shrink down to bug size from the ray of their scientist-father’s machine. When their father (Rick Moranis), accidentally sweeps them into the trash and carries them to the end of the backyard, the kids must make their way through the jungle of grass, bugs, and other hazards to get back to the house and find their parents. From riding on a giant ant to swimming in a bowl of Cheerios®, this adventure is one that kids will really find fun and amusing.
This movie was an instant classic when it was made, and almost three decades later it still remains a cinematic achievement with a story that everyone seems to love. E.T., which stands for Extra Terrestrial, is an alien who gets lost from his spaceship, befriends a fatherless boy named Elliot, and must get help to return home. The two strike up a friendship, and the film is touching as they work together to help E.T. “phone home.” Certain scenes still stand out today: E.T. dressed as a ghost going trick-or-treating with Elliot and his siblings, the kids hiding E.T. in a pile of stuffed animals so he won’t be discovered, and of course the infamous finger-touch with Elliot, an image that is forever remembered by fans around the world. The special effects and actual clothes and music may be outdated, but all of that fades away as this fantastic story comes to life.
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