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40+ Movies from the '80s to Watch with Your Kids, Tweens, and Teens

Use our free printable checklist to make sure you see them all!

By Kyrie Collins, Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree Publisher June 1, 2021

Think back to your tween and teen years. What were the movies that really changed you, the ones you still remember with so much affection? Perhaps it's time to share these classics with your own kids!

Summer is the best time to make family movie memories. The kids don't have to get up for school the next day and new stories can spark their imaginations.

Plus, in my opinion, there are some movies — and actors — that everyone should just... know! You don't want your kid to be the only one at the party who doesn't get it when someone says, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."

Below are some of our favorite classics from our own childhood that we can't wait to watch with our kids this summer. Times have changed in the last 40 years (like, omigawd, 1980 was totally 40 years ago!) so prepare yourself for some interesting conversations and questions.

"Why is that person talking into a shoebox?"
That's not a shoebox. It's a car phone. 

"Why are those kids riding bicycles without a helmet?"
Because parents didn't know better but now we're smarter than ever and you still have to wear yours every time you ride.

Since these films are so iconic, I've provided one of the classic lines rather than a synopsis. The age recommendations are general guidelines based on my own personal experience and discussion with trusted friends. Foul language, for example, doesn't bother me as much as violence does.

As always, take your own child's maturity and your family's values into account. Keep the remote within arm's reach in case you misjudged. It turns out that Beetlejuice was a lot scarier to our kids than my husband and I remembered it being and we tried to introduce it about two years too soon. We turned it off less than 30 minutes into the movie and moved it to the back of our "to watch" list!

A special note: The PG-13 rating  with the advisory "Parents Are Strongly Cautioned to Give Special Guidance for Attendance of Children Under 13 – Some Material May Be Inappropriate for Young Children" wasn't introduced until July 1, 1984. Many movies released before that date that have a PG rating might be classified as PG-13 by current standards.

Common Sense Media is one of my favorite sites for helping me determine whether or not a movie is right for my family.

CLICK HERE to download and print our FREE '80s movies checklist to make sure you see them all!

Kids & Young Tweens

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (PG) 
Actor to note: Drew Barrymore
"ET... phone... home."

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (PG) 
Actor to note: Rick Moranis
"We're now a quarter of an inch tall, and 64 feet from the house. That's an equivalent of 3.2 miles. That's a long way. Even for a man of science."

Labyrinth (PG)
Actors to note: David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly
"You have thirteen hours in which to solve the labyrinth, before your baby brother becomes one of us... forever."

The NeverEnding Story (PG)
"Never give up and good luck will find you."

The Princess Bride (PG)
Actors to note: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, André the Giant, Fred Savage, Peter Falk
"As you wish."

Mature Tweens

Back to the Future (PG)
Actors to note: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd
"Wait a minute. Wait a minute, Doc. Ah... Are you telling me that you built a time machine... out of a DeLorean?"

Beetlejuice (PG)
Actors to note: Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Catherine O'Hara, Winona Ryder
"Ah. Well... I attended Juilliard... I'm a graduate of the Harvard business school. I travel quite extensively. I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that. I've seen the Exorcist about 176 times, and it keeps getting funnier EVERY SINGLE TIME I see it... not to mention the fact that you're talking to a dead guy... Now what do you think? You think I'm qualified?

Big (PG)
Actors to note: Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, Robert Loggia, John Heard
"Three dimes, a hundred dollar bill, and 87 ones."

The Dark Crystal (PG)
Actors to note: Jim Henson, Frank Oz (puppet masters)
"The Great Conjunction is the end of the world! Or the beginning. Hm! End of Aughra? Hmph! End, begin, all the same. Big change. Sometimes good. Sometimes bad."

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (PG)
Actors to note: Matthew Broderick, Jeffrey Jones, Jennifer Grey, Ben Stein, Charlie Sheen
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Ghostbusters (PG)
Actors to note: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts
"We came, we saw, we kicked its a—!"

The Goonies (PG)
Actors to note: Sean Astin, Corey Feldman, Josh Brolin, Martha Plimpton
"Goonies never say die!"

Gremlins (PG)
Actors to note: Phoebe Cates, Corey Feldman, Judge Reinhold
"First of all, keep him out of the light, he hates bright light, especially sunlight, it'll kill him. Second, don't give him any water, not even to drink. But the most important rule, the rule you can never forget, no matter how much he cries, no matter how much he begs, never feed him after midnight."

The Karate Kid (PG)
Actors to note: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Elisabeth Shue
"Wax on, wax off."

Little Shop of Horrors (PG-13)
Actors to note: Steve Martin, Rick Moranis
"Feed me!"

Mr. Mom (PG)
Actors to note: Michael Keaton, Teri Garr, Martin Mull, Ann Jillian, Jeffrey Tambor, Christopher Lloyd
"Are you crazy? You don't feed a baby chili!"


Want more? Download and print our FREE '90s movies checklist too!


The Money Pit (PG)
Actors to note: Tom Hanks, Shelley Long, Alexander Godunov, Maureen Stapleton, Joe Mantegna, Yakov Smirnoff
"Stairs! Ha! A Staircase! We have stairs!"

Raiders of the Lost Ark (PG)
Actor to note: Harrison Ford
"Snakes. Why'd it have to be snakes?"

Time Bandits (PG)
Actors to note: Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, John Cleese
"Do be careful! Don't lose any of that stuff. That's concentrated evil. One drop of that could turn you all into hermit crabs."

WarGames (PG)
Actors to note: Matthew Broderick, Ally Sheedy, Dabney Coleman
"Shall we play a game?"

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (PG)
Actors to note: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Kathleen Turner
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Willow (PG)
Actors to note: Val Kilmer, Warwick Davis
"You're a great warrior! And a swordsman!... And you're ten times bigger than I am, stupid!"

Teens

Better Off Dead... (PG)
Actor to note: John Cusack
"I want my two dollars!"

Dead Poets Society (PG)
Actors to note: Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke
"Carpe diem, seize the day. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may."

Footloose (PG)
Actors to note: Kevin Bacon, John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, Sarah Jessica Parker, Lori Singer
"Let's daaaaaaaance!"

The Outsiders (PG-13)
Actors to note: Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, Ralph Macchio, Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell
"Stay gold, Ponyboy."

Poltergeist (PG)
Actor to note: Craig T. Nelson
"They're heeeere."

Romancing the Stone (PG)
Actors to note: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito
"Crocodiles shed tears when they eat their prey. You have heard of these tears I am sure. But have you seen them?"

Say Anything... (PG-13)
Actor to note: John Cusack
"What I really want to do with my life, what I want to do for a living, is I want to be with your daughter. I'm good at it.

Stand by Me (R)
Actors to note: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell, Kiefer Sutherland
"Do you guys wanna go see a dead body?"

Tootsie (PG)
Actors to note: Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Bill Murray, Geena Davis
"Alan's always Alan, Tom's always Tom and John's always John. I have a name too. It's Dorothy, capital D-O-R-O-T-H-Y."

Top Gun (PG)
Actors to note: Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Kelly McGillis, Anthony Edwards, Tom Skerritt, Tim Robbins
"I feel the need... the need for speed!"

Uncle Buck (PG)
Actors to note: John Candy, Macaulay Culkin
"I don't think I want to know a six-year-old who isn't a dreamer, or a sillyheart. And I sure don't want to know one who takes their student career seriously. I don't have a college degree. I don't even have a job. But I know a good kid when I see one."

Mature Teens

The Blues Brothers (R)
Actors to note: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Cab Calloway, James Brown, Frank Oz
"It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark... and we're wearing sunglasses."

The Breakfast Club (R)
Actors to note: Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Anthony Michael Hall, Paul Gleason
"If he gets up, we'll all get up, it'll be anarchy."

Die Hard (R)
Actors to note: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Alexander Godunov
"Welcome to the party, pal."

Dirty Dancing (PG-13)
Actors to note: Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach
"I'm scared of everything. I'm scared of what I saw, I'm scared of what I did, of who I am, and most of all I'm scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I'm with you."

Lethal Weapon (R)
Actors to note: Danny Glover, Mel Gibson, Gary Busey
"I'm too old for this sh—!"

The Lost Boys (R)
Actors to note: Jason Patric, Val Kilmer, Dianne Wiest, Jami Gertz, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman
"One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach; all the d— vampires."

The Terminator (R)
Actors to note: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton
"I'll be back."

When Harry Met Sally... (R)
Actors to note: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher
"I'll have what she's having.


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