Do these 80s kids movies still hold up?
There’s something about watching old movies. If it’s a movie from a time you were alive, it’s nostalgia, and if you weren’t, then it’s a window into a different time. Either way, it’s quite an adventure to watch movies from a time gone by.
At the same time, however, it can be quite a bummer to watch a movie everyone loved, say, in the 90s, only to find out that the movie no longer holds either the charm or the relevance that it did in its heyday. In the case of kids’ movies, it can be hard to capture & keep the interest of the little ones if the plot feels too outdated.
Let’s look at some of the 80s kids’ movies under this lens.
Honey, I Shrunk The Kids
Wild adventures of obsessed scientists were a whole genre back then & the late 80s television viewing was heavily biased towards the sci-fi tale of an innovator accidentally using his shrinking machine on his kids.
What starts off with him throwing the little ones out in the trash becomes a joyride, a battle, and a conference of mischief, all at the same time.
Keeping aside the fact that people have far more knowledge about the sciences to know that it isn’t possible to shrink humans, let alone do it accidentally, Honey, I Shrunk The Kids manages to retain its fun for generations to come.
Based on the eponymous Broadway musical, Annie has a very 80s plot: an orphan living a hard life under the meanness of Miss Hannigan gets the chance to live with the wealthy Warbucks. Life doesn’t completely change for her, as she finds herself longing for her real parents.
Warbucks decides to help out & sets a reward on the search. This attracts all sorts of cheats & swindlers claiming to be her parents. We’ve got a feeling Annie will only sit right with the kids if they watch it as a relic from the bygone era because there are far too many troublesome events to make sense of or to normalize.
A supernatural comedy with ghosts? Count the kids in.
When a plethora of ghost sightings are reported, three parapsychologists decide to jump in on the opportunity & incorporate Ghostbusters, a company offering services to rid people of supernatural creatures. The movie brings visually grand moments in line with the constantly developing plot, and that’s bound to keep anyone’s attention.
To this day, Ghostbusters remains the perfect movie for those daring kids who claim they aren’t afraid of the dark. There have also been fun remakes, particularly the 2016 version starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Justin Kirk, among others.
ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
It’s hard to miss the alien subgenre in 80s kids’ movies with ET: The Extra-Terrestrial in the headline.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, it follows Elliott, a little boy who befriends an extraterrestrial creature who seems to have been lost/left behind by the rest of his family. Kids can show so much empathy without even being asked to, and Elliott’s friendship with ET reminds us of that.
The movie still remains significant & not just in the genre. Bonus: we get to see Drew Barrymore as a little kid, too.
Back To The Future
Sci-fi movies seem to be a really popular genre of the 80s kids’ movies. Back To The Future, as the name suggests, dabbles in the time-travel sub theme.
Steven Spielberg & Robert Zemeckis created the highest-grossing movie of the year with a simple plot: a 17-year-old is sent into the past due to an experiment by his eccentric scientist friend gone awry (talk about exploiting a trope to death).
We all wonder how we could change the course of the world if we could change something in the past — it’s called quantum physics — but Back To The Future just made the whole conversation a lot more fun.