Fire up the ol’ time machine for a trip back to the 80’s. Here are 22 classic movies from the decade that are worth revisiting for your next movie night. They’re generally very family friendly, but some may contain some scary scenes or questionable language, so be sure to pre-screen them if you have little ones!
E.T. (1982): A group of Earth children help a stranded alien botanist return home.
The Dark Crystal (1982): On another planet in the distant past, a Gelfling embarks on a quest to find the missing shard of a magical crystal, and so restore order to his world.
Gremlins (1984): A boy inadvertently breaks 3 important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.
Neverending Story (1984): A troubled boy dives into a wonderous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book.
Ghostbusters (1984): Three unemployed parapsychology professors set up shop as a unique ghost removal service.
Karate Kid (1984): A handyman/martial arts master agrees to teach a bullied boy karate and shows him that there is more to the martial art than fighting.
Back to the Future (1985): In 1985, Doc Brown invents time travel; in 1955, Marty McFly accidentally prevents his parents from meeting, putting his own existence at stake.
Real Genius (1985): Teenage geniuses deal with their abilities while developing a laser.
Goonies (1985): A group of kids embark on a wild adventure after finding a pirate treasure map.
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985): Eccentric man-child Pee-Wee Herman embarks on the big adventure of his life across the US mainland, as he sets out to find his beloved bike, when it is stolen in broad daylight.
An American Tail (1986): While emigrating to the United States, a young Russian mouse gets separated from his family and must relocate them while trying to survive in a new country.
Short Circuit (1986): Number 5 of a group of experimental robots in a lab is electrocuted, suddenly becomes intelligent, and escapes.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986): A high school wise guy is determined to have a day off from school, despite of what the principal thinks of that.
Lucas (1986): A socially inept fourteen year old experiences heartbreak for the first time when his two best friends — Cappie, an older-brother figure, and Maggie, the new girl with whom he is in love — fall for each other.
The Princess Bride (1987): A classic fairy tale, with swordplay, giants, an evil prince, a beautiful princess, and yes, some kissing (as read by a kindly grandfather).
Adventures in Babysitting (1987): Chris is settled in for a dull night babysitting when a girlfriend calls to say she’s marooned at a downtown bus station with very seedy characters around. The three plus one of the boy’s friends get into the parents station wagon for a trip to the inner city. All is well till the flat tire.
*Batteries Not Included (1987): Apartment block tenants seek the aid of alien mechanical life-forms to save their building from demolition.
Beetlejuice (1988): A couple of recently deceased ghosts contract the services of a “bio-exorcist” in order to remove the obnoxious new owners of their house.
Willow (1988): A reluctant dwarf must play a critical role in protecting a special baby from an evil queen.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988): A toon hating detective is a cartoon rabbit’s only hope to prove his innocence when he is accused of murder.
Big (1988): When a boy wishes to be big at a magic wish machine, he wakes up the next morning and finds himself in an adult body literally overnight.
Honey I Shrunk The Kids (1989): Wayne Szalinski is your average “nutty scientist”, working on a top secret machine which miniaturizes objects. When it unexpectedly starts working, he’s so amazed he forgets to tell his family to be careful.
[Plot synopsis for each movie courtesy of The Internet Movie Database.]
Thank you for this list! We have been looking for some great 80’s movies to watch with our kids. I think you’ve named them all!
you might want to try the old tv show “MacGyver”
Old School says
Hi, nice list, but just a warning that many of those films include parts probably not suitable for younger kids.
Some include just some scary scenes like Gremlins, Goonies or Ghostbusters.
Some include some strong sexual inuendo like Real Genius.
And almost all include some inappropriate language.
That does not mean they are still not great movies that you can watch with your family, but just be warned if you have little ones that you might have to cover some eyes or ears for certain parts until they are old enough to understand.
I love the 80s. Thanks.
I did mention the importance of pre-screening the movies you haven’t seen, but thanks for pointing out some of the specific ones to be aware of!
What a great list! At least half of them are movies I would happily sit down to watch, anytime they show up on TV. Thanks for the reminder!
Don’t (mess) with the babysitter!
Glad you enjoyed the list, Jennie. And I’ve always had the personal philosophy of keeping any and all babysitters on my good side.
I would have included the following:
Flight of the Navigator 1986
Over the Top 1987
War Games 1983
The Karate Kid (original) 1984
Top Gun 1986
Oliver and Company 1988
The Land Before Time 1988
Look Who’s Talking 1989
The three Amigos 1986
Superman 2 1980
Rad BMX 1986 (a lot of people have forgotten about this movie.) Good if your kids are in to BMX biking or racing.
Gleaming the Cube 1989 (a lot of people have forgotten about this movie) Good if your kid is mature enough and likes skate boarding.
Nadia 1984 (I have not heard anyone talking about this movie) good if you have a child that is perusing Gymnastics.
I can remember watching all of these movies when I was a kid.
Some of these movies have those parts that (Old School) recently commented about.
Good picks! Flight of the Navigator is one I haven’t thought about in years!
How you not have Indiana Jones on this list
I remember loving the secret detective, or young spy movies from the 80’s’ , I have 2 little boys that enjoy them “kids club movies. Any suggestions?
“MacGyver” was a good spy tv show!!!
Im not sure if it was the 80’s but Radio Flyer was a good one. Oh and great list!!
You forgot Harry and the Hendersons!
What about labyrinth! I love that movie!
Love this list!! Feel like you should also include, “Explorers”, “The Monster Club” and definitely “Indiana Jones”.
Almost forgot- “The Secret Of the Nimh”.
How about “Mac and Me, The Last Unicorn, Twins, The Golden Child,Spies Like Us, Mr.Mom,Time Bandits”…..just to name a few..
Oh…and ” Mr. boogedy, Teen Wolf, Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure, masters of the Universe” …..obviously some I have listed would be for older children but all were fantastic movies…god if I thought about it I’m sure I could come up with tons more ….
Anyone remember the name of the movie with a young boy, who befriends an alien n flies the ship I think theres a teenage boy and girl involved too?i dont remember much about the movie, but the military confiscated the aliens ship and the boy I think. Not witch mountain not mac n me not.e.t. Either
Flight of the Navigator
How about the last star fighter
i would love to have all these 80s movies that i watched when i was a kid for mine. like the goonies and the first lost boys she’s in love with edgar lol my kid is dying to see them but dont know how to get ahold of them
Try Netflix or Walmart $5 bin
li li says
hey, dont forget “the boy who could fly”, the toy, howard the duck, hugga bunch, the lady in white.
“Time Bandits” was one of my faves
Does anyone remember The Dirt Bike Kid??
Annie (1982) has some fantastic songs.
Don’t forget ‘The Wizard’ and the all important introduction to Super Mario Bros. 3!!!