Perhaps it’s nostalgia. Maybe it’s because I’m an old-fogey who grew up in the 1980s. Or maybe there’s just something about 80s teen movies. But I think these teen films are among the best ever made! We did have John Hughes after all. And the brand new PG-13 rating kept us (mostly) honest.
I have fond memories of watching the following movies as a teen. I’ve found, though, that watching them as a 40-something and with my three teenagers is even more enjoyable. Hearing them laugh at jokes that are now timeless, watching their faces light up when The Goonies find One-Eyed Willie’s pirate ship, and even hearing them groan at the dated special effects is priceless. It makes for a great evening in with the kids.
So pop up some popcorn, pull out your theater box candies, open up some soft drinks, and enjoy!
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WarGames– 1983 (PG) One of the quintessential Cold War teen films, this one explores a genius kid whose computer hacking skills might have unwittingly started a nuclear war.
Footloose– 1984 (PG) I could totally relate to this movie, what with the ban on rock music and dancing as a lot of churches in my hometown held the same views as those in Elmore City. But when teens want to dance, they’ll figure out a way to do so.
Gremlins– 1984 (PG-13) A father gives his teenage son a special pet with three extremely important rules to follow regarding its care. But Billy is careless and one by one all the rules are broken and the consequences are dire. Violent at times.
The Karate Kid– 1984 (PG) Wax on. Wax off. These words are imprinted on our generational consciousness. This karate story will make your kids root for the underdog. You’ll be amazed how little Ralph Macchio has aged in 30+ years.
Sixteen Candles– 1984 (PG) Lost in the shuffle of her older sister’s wedding, Samantha Baker has the worst birthday ever. To add insult to injury, she’s also crushing on the Big Man on Campus while the dork king- played by a squeaky-voiced Anthony Michael Hall- wreaks havoc on her life.
Back to the Future Trilogy– 1985 (PG) A classic that has stood the test of time, this teen movie details Marty McFly’s time-traveling adventure which disrupts the space-time continuum. When he resolves to set things straight to save his brother, sister, and himself, he changes his fate and the future forever.
The Breakfast Club– 1985 (R) John Hughes doesn’t get any better than this, his 1980s teen masterpiece. Five misfit teens in completely different social cliques must spend an entire Saturday in detention. The bond they form reveals that some differences are completely superficial.
The Goonies– 1985 (PG) A group of misfit kids (The Goonies) attempt to save their neighborhood from wealthy developers by going on a quest to find pirate One-Eyed Willie’s treasure. Full of Raiders of the Lost Ark traps and peopled with eccentric kids and teenagers, this kid adventure is as hilarious as it is suspenseful.
Real Genius– 1985 (PG) A group of geniuses tasked with working on a laser uncover a sinister plot. You’ll never look at popcorn the same way again.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off– 1986 (PG-13) A high school misfit determined to have a good time despite school, convinces his best friend and girlfriend to ditch and head into Chicago for the day. His sister and their high school principal, however, are intent on busting him.
Stand By Me– 1986 (R) I was reading Stephen King’s Different Seasons when a trailer come on TV for Stand by Me. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. Did one of the book’s novellas become a movie. Sure did. This adventure story of four boys trying to find the body of a missing boy and the collective and individual experiences that change them forever.
Can’t Buy Me Love– 1987 (PG-13) A lawn-mowing nerd spends his earnings not on the telescope he covets, but on renting the popular girl in hopes of boosting his social status. Unintended consequences with friends, family, and on what it means to be cool and popular while remaining true to yourself.
Dead Poets Society– 1989 (PG) Set in a New England boarding school for boys in the 1950s, this timeless movie illustrates the power of an inspirational teacher.
Adventures in Babysitting– 1987 (PG-13)
Pretty In Pink– 1986 (PG-13)
Some Kind of Wonderful– 1987 (PG-13)
Weird Science– 1985 (PG-13)