Being able to share your favorite movies from your childhood with your kids is like a rite of passage. I couldn't wait for the day when my son was old enough to appreciate Ghostbusters and The Goonies, and little does he know, that's just the tip of the iceberg. But the kids movies from the '80s to watch with your kids aren't limited to those two gems or any of the others on this list.
I may have been born on the latter end of the decade, but I know the value in a solid '80s movie, of which there seems to be an endless supply. I can still appreciate movies from the '90s and more recent releases, because I also love how far we have come cinematically. But there are so many '80s movies that a lot of parents grew up with and should now pass down to their own kids. As a parent, I believe it's my duty to do just that.
Maybe my son doesn't yet love Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but there's still plenty of time to indoctrinate him. There are just too many kids movies from the '80s to not give your kids a taste of a memorable decade, even if it was a fleeting memory of your own childhood. So while there might be some missing here depending on personal preference, these are 22 of the best kids movies from the '80s to watch with your kids and indulge in some sweet sweet nostalgia.
If you ever watched The Goonies and didn't want to go on a pirate treasure hunting adventure with your own friends for some "rich stuff," did you ever really watch The Goonies?
The sequel was, to me, just as good as the movie that started it all. But I recommend introducing your kid to the original Ghostbusters first to ease them into the world of slime and Bill Murray.
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
The great thing about E.T. is that, while it does show an actual alien, there's nothing inherently scary about it. Most kids will get a kick out of watching E.T. and Elliot's friendship without being too freaked out by the alien himself.
The Princess Bride
We all know that there are some semi-adult themes peppered in throughout The Princess Bride. At its core, however, it's one of those hilarious prince and princess movies that everyone can enjoy. Think of it as the first movie about a princess falling in love that actually makes fun of the whole thing.
Variety reported that streaming platform WarnerMedia will premiere an animated Gremlins series to serve as a prequel to the 1984 movie. There's no better time to introduce your kid to the alcoholic and light-averse creatures than now.
Beetlejuice does deal with the afterlife and demons, so if your kid may not be able to handle that yet, feel free to hold off on this one. For the most part, however, Beetlejuice is pretty tame with the horror while being hilarious in other spots.
As a kid, Little Monsters made me wonder if there was an entire monster dimension living under my bed too. As an adult, I can't help but wonder how Fred Savage's character sneaks out of his room every night without his parents finding out.
Back To The Future
If your kid transitioned out of the animation phase and toggles back and forth between animation and live action like my kid does, then Back to the Future is another one they should be able to appreciate. Just don't be surprised if they ask you where your flux capacitor is the next time you get in the car.
Honey, I Shrunk The Kids
This is another one that had sequels follow it. But it's always best to start with the source material and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids will definitely play with your kid's imagination.
The Neverending Story
When Bastian hides in the school attic to read a book called The Neverending Story, he starts to recognize a character as himself and begins to wonder if the story is actually real. This is definitely one of those movies that might inspire your kid to suddenly believe they, too, are part of some fantastical story elsewhere, so you have been warned.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
I am well aware of Jessica Rabbit's, ahem, assets, and the fact that there is some heavy cartoon violence in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. But it's also rated PG, so if you think your kid can handle it, then I'm sure they can.
John Candy plays the title character, who unexpectedly has to care for his nieces and nephew when their parents are called out of town for an emergency. Obviously he's as goofy and carefree as you'd expect and there was probably no one better than Candy to have filled the role.
Indiana Jones And The Raiders of the Lost Ark
No one is ever too old or too young for Indiana Jones's adventures. So do it up old school with this one from 1981.
Girls Just Want To Have Fun
Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt are basically babies in this under the radar '80s movie. As teenagers, they played two new best friends who find adventure in a TV dance competition show while competing with your typical '80s movie bullies.
As is universally understood, Tom Hanks can do no wrong. Big is another example of that, as he plays a kid who finds himself in a grownup body and has to learn to adult with the help of his kid best friend.
The Little Mermaid
There aren't many animated '80s movies on this list, but The Little Mermaid is essential for your kid's movie memory bank. I'm not wild about the protagonist being a girl who loses her voice and finds a husband who loves her that way, but it's still a Disney staple.
The Land Before Time
As the only other animated movie from the '80s that I feel is a must watch with your kids, The Land Before Time gets a lot of credit from me. It tells the heartbreaking story of a dinosaur who loses his mom to another, more vicious one, and follows him on a journey to find his true home.
Look Who’s Talking
There are some adult themes and jokes in Look Who’s Talking meant for the parents to understand while the kids enjoy the talking baby. But the talking baby is where it’s at and what kid can't appreciate that?
The Karate Kid
There are just some ‘80s classics that you can't live without and I think The Karate Kid is one of them. Any story about an underdog who rises up to overcome a group of bullies is one that kids should probably pay attention to.
Long before MTV used the name to make their own dark version of the '80s movie, Michael J. Fox starred as the title character in Teen Wolf, wherein he became a popular high school jock in full wolf form. He has to learn to manage his life as both a human and werewolf, which he miraculously does.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
While you enjoy some primo vintage Keanu Reeves, your kids can get a roundabout history lesson without even realizing it as the title characters go back in time and bring important historical figures to their present day shopping mall.
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
If your kid can get past Pee-Wee Herman’s utter strangeness, then they will definitely appreciate his wacky nature and attitude throughout his movie. It gets bonus points for featuring a Rube Goldberg breakfast making machine, as was customary for most '80s movies.
There are a lot of other kids movies from the '80s that you might prefer to watch with your kid more than these, but I feel like this is the perfect jumping off point. Whether you’re still dealing with the toddler stage or your kid is teetering on the horrifying pre-teen years, these movies can provide a fun and easy way to bond while indulging in the classics.