By Kelly Hines
One of the greatest joys of parenthood is sharing a part of your own childhood with your kids. For some people, it’s camping at a special lake, or making a favorite meal, or reading a treasured book. For me, it’s watching all the movies that seemed to define my generation. There was something innocent, pure, and wholesome about the films of the ‘80’s, and I couldn’t wait to rewatch them with my kids. First up:
The Goonies (1985)
Story by Steven Spielberg, screenplay by Chris Columbus, and an all-star cast of ‘80’s child stars, including Corey Feldman, Martha Plimpton, Sean Astin, and the super easy on the eyes Josh Brolin. Misfit kids go on a treasure hunt to save the family home, meet up with creepy bad guys, but pull together to overcome their individual obstacles. Wholesome! Family friendly! Life lessons! WRONG. Within the first five minutes, there’s a barrage of profanity, fat-shaming, sexism, bullying, and terrible fashion choices. There’s enough sexual innuendo to make parents uncomfortable around older kids, a physically disabled man labeled as a ‘monster’ (props to Sloth!), and the special effects make you realized just how far CGI has come. Wholly inappropriate for anyone under 10ish.
THE BOTTOM LINE: My kids loved it, especially the seven year old. Six thumbs up.
Cute little fuzzy creature bought in Chinatown by a guy who can’t follow directions. “Gizmo” is voiced by Howie Mandel (should be a tip off right there), the movie also stars Phoebe Cates, Zach Galligan, and Corey Feldman (another tip off). And once again, screenplay by Chris Columbus. Y’ALL THIS MOVIE IS TERRIFYING. Gizmo is a cute little guy until he gets wet and starts multiplying and then the duplicates eat after midnight and become evil, bloodthirsty monsters. One of them gets chopped up with a kitchen knife, another is killed in a blender, and Phoebe Cates give a speech about the truth about SANTA.
THE BOTTOM LINE: This movie is the stuff of nightmares.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
I loved this movie so much as a kid that I dressed as Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) for a book report presentation in fourth grade. (And before you can even ask, YES, I could put away the shots just like her!) This movie has it all: Nazis, booze, implied sex, bullwhips, archeology, God, ghosts, melting faces, snakes, a monkey with an agenda, Harrison Ford in a great hat, and one of the best theme songs of all time. Sure, the ending is a little on the scary side, but it’s a good lesson on following directions!
THE BOTTOM LINE: Cinematic perfection. End it five minutes early for sensitive viewers.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Let’s face it, skipping school is cool. You go to baseball games, eat at fancy restaurants posing as the Sausage King of Chicago, ride in parade floats, drive sports cars, and hang out with your besties, while still making it back into bed before your folks get home from work. What do you mean, you just hid in the woods with a lukewarm Bud Light and a copy of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret? Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, and the breathtaking Mia Sara are the rule breaking kids you want your kids to be like, if they were to be rule breaking kids. There’s a reason everyone likes John Hughes movies – the characters are intrinsically good, relatable, and grow up to invent Facebook.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Suggest to your kids that if they can’t skip school like Ferris does it, don’t even bother. Set the bar high!
Weird Science (1985)
Great idea: Two smart guys (Anthony Michael Hall and Robert Downey, Jr.) use their brainpower, bras, a passing storm, and a Commodore 64 to turn a Barbie doll into a real woman (Kelly LeBrock, pre-Botox). Add in a militant older brother (Chet, played by the late, great Bill Paxton), some classic ‘80’s iconography, and a KILLER soundtrack, and you have another home run from John Hughes. OK, so there’s a heavy drinking, pot smoking scene. There’s lots of sexual innuendo, sexism, elitism, in fact most of the -isms. But the message is good, they turn Chet into Jabba the Hut, AND Kelly LeBrock wears amazing ‘80’s workout wear.
THE BOTTOM LINE: 2017 Me thinks this movie is garbage, but 1985 Me knows it is totally tubular.
Stand By Me (1986)
If you’ve never bothered to read Stephen King’s non-horror books and shorts stories, do yourself a favor and start now. Stand By Me is based on King’s story The Body, and takes a group of boys on a journey to discover a rumored dead body, and they find themselves in the process. What could have been a two hour cliche is a nuanced, real, hopeful, and heartbreaking look at kids on the fringe. River Phoenix gives a performance that makes you mourn his short life, Corey Feldman reminds us that under the hot mess he’s a fine actor, Jerry O’Connell (before he got hot) breaks your heart, and Wil Wheaton is every kid who’s been in the shadow of a beloved sibling. All that seriousness is kept light by the spirit of childhood and the retelling of one of the finest, funniest revenge tales of all time.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Sit down and watch the whole thing with your kids. Let them hear you laugh, and let them see you cry.
So fire up the Jiffy Pop, break out the VHS, and get ready to party like it’s 1984 all over again. Let us know in the comments what your favorite movies from your childhood are!