People who grew up in the 1980s have a heightened sense of nostalgia for that decade, remembering its fashion – big hair, pegged pants and the like – as well as its amazing synth pop – OMD and Erasure, anyone?
But probably the most enduring pop culture phenomenon from the beloved era is its movies, many of which have stood the test of time well. References to 80s movies are ubiquitous in our society today, even 30 or more years later.
As I did a survey of fellow parents who grew up in the 80s, one of the things I kept hearing is that when they’ve re-watched 80s flicks with their children, they are astounded at the amount of vulgar language in them and remark that they didn’t remember all of that language when they watched them as a kid. I guess time can make one forget about the less-savory aspects of the favorite cinematic achievements of a bygone day. I’ve felt the same when I’ve re-watched them.
Thankfully, to avoid hearing the vulgar language while watching 80s movies with your children, there is a solution. You can watch them through VidAngel, which allows its users to buy a movie digitally (and sell it back when they’re done) and apply filters so children (and parents) don’t hear the swear words or the sexual innuendo or see anything sexually suggestive. If you want, you can also choose to filter out violence. We watch a lot of movies on VidAngel and love it! Our daughters, 8 and 6, haven’t even asked about what words they are clearly not hearing.
With this in mind, the magic of 80s movies and the notion that one can watch them without the language through VidAngel, I present the six 80s movies ideal for showing to children 10 and under. All of them have been the huge hits at our house (All are available on VidAngel unless specifically noted):
Six totally radical 80s movies (and trilogies) for children 10 and under:
1. Back to the Future Trilogy, 1985, 1989, 1990 – The adventures of Marty McFly and Doc Brown captivated me as an 8-year-old kid and have never stopped. The top of the list of movies to show my children, this trilogy captivated my 8-year-old daughter as well. She said she loves their adventures and that they go back in time, thinks Doc Brown is funny and says (and I don’t know why), “Marty thinks he’s always at home.” Being a dog lover, she said she also likes Doc’s dog, Einstein. She’s also asked if she can watch these again. My 6-year-old said she loved how the lightning helped send Marty home in the first one.
2. Short Circuit, 1986 – A robot taking on human qualities makes for great kid fare. For some reason, both my daughters love one of his first learning experiences, when he sees a Dr. Pepper ad and repeats it, asking, “Do you want to be a Pepper, too?” My 6-year-old daughter enjoyed the part in which Johnny 5 dumps spaghetti out of a bowl and exclaims, “Spaghetti!” My 8-year-old daughter said she loved the humor in the movie, likes how Ally Sheedy’s character takes care of Johnny 5 like a pet and likes that Johnny 5 is confident. Glad she’s picking out the finer qualities of movie characters, even if they are robots!
3. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, 1989 – Flea-sized teenagers overcoming life-or-death challenges (and gaining respect for one another) in their own backyard has all the makings of a kid favorite, right? My 6-year-old loved it when Wayne Szalinski, played by Rick Moranis, shrinks an apple then it explodes and also when the teenagers ride the ant. My 8-year-old called the movie “epic” and especially enjoyed how the kids “worked together to get out of the tall grass.” She also loved Rick Moranis’s character’s antics to try to find them.
4. *batteries not included (not a typo – the actual title has no caps), 1987 (not available on VidAngel, but is on Netflix) – A feel-good story about robots from another planet helping humans, which is exactly why my 8-year-old loved it. “I liked that the robots fixed everything,” she said. In fact, she said she liked everything about the little robots. My 6-year-old said she liked it when the tiny robots fell in the soup and helped their human friends make food at the diner.
5. E.T., 1982 – Humans teaching an alien about life on earth and helping “it” get home is also a perfect premise to get kids’ attention. My 8-year-old loved it when a 6-year-old Drew Barrymore taught E.T. how to talk and dressed him up. She also loved it when E.T. hid in the closet and pretended to be a stuffed animal and watched TV and said the words he was hearing out loud. She even liked it when E.T. screamed! My 6-year-old said her favorite part was the ever-famous line the alien protagonist kept repeating, “E.T. phone home!”
6. The original Star Wars Trilogy, 1977, 1980, 1983 – The ultimate good vs. evil space battles that have started our girls’ indoctrination of the beloved franchise. To illustrate the love – our 6-year-old cheered when the Death Star blew up (sorry for the spoiler for those who might have been living in a cave and were previously unaware) in Episode IV: A New Hope! Our daughters are both huge fans of R2D2 and C3PO and the comic relief they provide. Thankfully, the 6-year-old sees the dangers of the dark side of the force, specifically stating she hates Darth Vader in the school assignment pictured.
One non-80s movie (but close to it) that our kids also love:
Cool Runnings, 1993 – One of the funnier underdog stories and John Candy’s last decent role, our girls loved the antics of Doug E. Doug’s character, especially the kissing of the lucky egg.
80s movies we haven’t “tested” on our kids but will certainly try soon, with reservations (These were repeatedly suggested when polling friends and family members on 80s movies they’ve enjoyed with their children):
1. The Princess Bride, 1987 – Fezzik (aka Andre the Giant) and the rodent of unusual size might be a little much for our girls, but we’re will to try.
2. The Neverending Story, 1984 (not available on VidAngel or Netflix) – Both of our girls are animal lovers, so Atreyu’s horse getting stuck and dying might be too much, plus a few of the characters might freak them out (Gmork, especially), but I’m sure they’ll love Falcor, the beloved dragon.
3. The Goonies, 1985 – Sloth, Mama Fratelli and some of the mayhem in finding the One-Eyed Willy’s ship might be a little much but the whole premise of teenager’s finding lost treasure is one with universal appeal.
4. Willow, 1988 – A little bit of mayhem in this epic fantasy yarn, but kids will love the midget as a hero and also all of the animals.
So, the main message of this post is this: In the name of cultural literacy and to satisfy your own nostalgic cravings, please watch an 80s movie with your kids this weekend! And please, please – let me know if they enjoyed it.
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