The ’80s were a magical time for kids movies, and we’re still head over heels for them. A treasure trove of iconic films emerged during this era, making it nearly impossible to pick the cream of the crop. E.T. the Extra Terrestrial soared to the top, raking in the most moolah of the decade. But does it truly reign supreme as the ultimate ’80s kids movie? Enter The Karate Kid, a timeless classic that left an indelible mark on pop culture, inspiring countless references and hilarious parodies. And who could ever wipe The Princess Bride from their memory? This cherished family flick from the ’80s has transformed into a cult favorite.
But wait, there’s more! Animated gems like The Little Mermaid, a Disney masterpiece, continue to captivate children of all ages. And we mustn’t forget the genius of Hayao Miyazaki, whose enchanting creation, My Neighbor Totoro, showcases his incredible talent. If you have a top pick from the ’80s children’s movie vault, be sure to share it below and discover where it stands on the list of greatness.
Lastly, we can’t overlook the most polarizing contender: Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird. Opinions may clash when it comes to this one, but we can all agree on the profound impact and enduring legacy of the other films mentioned.
1. The Goonies
Oh, The Goonies! What a fantastic adventure movie! It’s an absolute classic – no kid’s childhood was ever truly fulfilled without watching it! The cast is just amazing, featuring the adorable young Sean Astin, Corey Feldman, and Josh Brolin. The story revolves around a bunch of misfit kids who embark on a treasure hunt, leading them to an exhilarating journey filled with excitement, emotions, and lots of laughs.
Directed by: Richard Donner
Actors: Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen
2. Back to the Future
When it comes to Back to the Future, we can’t forget about Michael J. Fox’s legendary performance as Marty McFly, the teenager who unintentionally goes back in time and puts his own existence at risk. The movie has a brilliant storyline, with unforgettable characters like Christopher Lloyd’s eccentric Doc Brown, and of course, the famous DeLorean time machine. It’s no wonder this film is still considered a true icon of 80s pop culture.
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Actors: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Crispin Glover
Ghostbusters was a total blast! The movie featured the hilarious trio of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis, who brought a mix of laughter and chills to the screen. Oh, and let’s not forget about that catchy theme song that had everyone humming along! It was a hit with kids who couldn’t get enough of these wacky ghostbusters as they saved New York City from all sorts of spooky creatures. No wonder kids were dying to have their own proton packs and join in on the slimy action!
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Actors: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis
4. The NeverEnding Story
If you’re into magical tales, then The NeverEnding Story is a real treat. It’s about this young kid named Bastian who stumbles upon a super cool book that takes him on an incredible adventure in a magical world called Fantasia. And let me tell you, it’s filled with all sorts of enchanting characters like Atreyu and Falkor the luck dragon. This movie really encourages kids to let their imaginations run wild and shows just how powerful storytelling can be.
Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen
Actors: Gerald McRaney, Limahl, Moses Gunn
5. The Karate Kid
The Karate Kid really struck a chord because it brought to life this awesome underdog story about this young kid named Daniel LaRusso, played by Ralph Macchio. He’s just this regular guy who learns some serious life lessons and martial arts from his mentor, Mr. Miyagi. It’s super endearing and inspiring, and it’s definitely one of those standout films that taught kids the importance of never giving up, staying determined, and hey, even the significance of waxing cars.
Directed by: John G. Avildsen
Actors: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Elisabeth Shue
6. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Let me introduce you to one of the most iconic movie heroes ever: Indiana Jones. In the film Raiders of the Lost Ark, Harrison Ford’s performance showcased his incredible swagger and whip-cracking skills. Dr. Jones embarks on a thrilling quest to uncover hidden treasures and put a stop to the evil plans of the Nazis. This action-packed adventure captivated kids from the 80s and gave birth to a beloved franchise.
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Actors: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman
7. Stand by Me
Stand by Me” is a fantastic movie that’s based on Stephen King’s novella. It boasts an all-star cast, including talented actors like Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, and Kiefer Sutherland. The story follows a group of friends as they embark on an extraordinary journey to locate a missing body. Packed with thrilling adventures, heartwarming friendships, and a nostalgic touch, this film manages to strike a chord with audiences of all ages
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Actors: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman
8. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Let’s dive into the wacky world of madcap sci-fi with ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids’! This movie had us in stitches with its hilarious concept of a bumbling scientist, played by the talented Rick Moranis, accidentally shrinking his own children. Can you imagine the chaos that ensued? Well, hold onto your seats because those kids found themselves in their own backyard but it was no longer a safe haven. It had turned into a treacherous jungle, and boy, did they keep us on the edge of our seats!
Directed by: Joe Johnston
Actors: Rick Moranis, Matt Frewer, Marcia Strassman
Gremlins, a film that combines comedy and horror, tells the story of a cute pet gone wild. The lovable Mogwai named Gizmo and his not-so-cute offspring cause chaos in a small town. This darkly humorous movie carries an important lesson about the consequences of not following rules, particularly when a toy store goes out of control.
Directed by: Joe Dante
Actors: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton
10. The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride, with Cary Elwes and Robin Wright, became a big hit thanks to its clever mix of romance, adventure, and comedy. It’s hard to believe, but this movie that playfully mocks fairy tales is still loved by people of all ages. It’s a timeless classic that has managed to capture the hearts of both kids and adults.
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Actors: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin
11. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, directed by the legendary Steven Spielberg, is a film that stole hearts with its magical tale of a lonely boy and his otherworldly friend. It showed us an alien who simply wanted to find a way back home, teaching valuable lessons in friendship and empathy along the way. This movie had a special glow that captivated youngsters and warmed the hearts of audiences everywhere.
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Actors: Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote