In order to help you set up quality at-home screen time (you’re going to have plenty of it in the next few weeks), we got Common Sense Media to curate a list of the top movies from the ‘80s. Kids are sure to fall for these timeless classics, which include everything from underground comedies to groundbreaking action franchises, and we’re pretty sure you’ll enjoy reminiscing about (or reveling in!) the pre-cell phone era. Keep scrolling to see all the totally tubular flicks that should be in your queue. 

The Secret of Nimh (1982)
This classic '80s animated film is about a group of intelligent rats who escape from an animal laboratory is suspenseful and rather dark. Several scenes include animal children in peril and a sword fight between rats ends in one death with a little blood. The worst part for sensitive viewers: a flashback shows the animated animals being imprisoned and injected with a needle.

Recommended for ages 8 & up.

Rated G.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Ghostbusters (1984)

Parents need to know that Ghostbusters is an iconic '80s movie that mixes a ton of humor (some of it fairly racy) in with the plotline about catching scary ghosts (a few are skeletal and scary) and the possible end of the world. The scariest part is probably the large dogs with glowing eyes that attack and possess two characters, though the now-dated special effects may not faze older kids. 

Recommended for ages 11 & up

Rated PG

Annie* (1982)
In this film version of the Broadway musical about the parentless Depression-era moppet, spunky red-haired Annie suffers indignities from tough orphanage supervisor Miss Hannigan. Ever-hopeful, she dreams of the day her parents arrive to retrieve her, singing songs and dancing to the delight of the other orphan girls. By the time Annie sings "Tomorrow" to President Roosevelt, you'll be singing it along with her.

Recommended for ages 6 & up.

Rated PG 

*Mr. Warbucks' mysterious servant "Punjab" represents a stereotype of Indian culture—and is not even played by an actor of Indian descent.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
E.T. is an outstanding family movie—one of the all-time best. Its themes of loyalty, trust, and caring are both affecting and easy to understand, and Elliott and E.T.'s extraordinary friendship is one of cinema's most enduring. After more than 25 years, E.T. continues to tug at heartstrings and prove Spielberg is a master storyteller.

Recommended for ages 7 & up.

Rated PG

A Christmas Story (1983)
Part of the appeal of this must-see holiday classic, based on the memoirs of humorist Jean Shepard (who narrates), is the authenticity of the 1940s period detail, much of which will seem bizarre to kids today. But what is really engaging is his feel for the timeless details of childhood. 

Recommended for ages 8 & up.

Rated PG 

The NeverEnding Story (1984)
Both children and adults will enjoy this film for its special effects, beautiful scenery, and colorful characters. Most of all, The NeverEnding Story's message of daring to dream and soaring to new heights through books is a powerful one that kids of any age can relate to.

Recommended for ages 8 & up.

Rated PG 

The Princess Bride (1987)
Simply put, The Princess Bride is stuffed full of every thrilling element of a classic romantic adventure—princes, villains and evil geniuses, giants and giant creatures, sword fights, revenge, kidnapping, and a rescue on white horses—and it coats them all in delicious humor.

Recommended for ages 8 & up.

Rated PG 

Willow (1988)
For today's Harry Potter generation, a viewing of Willow will surely be of interest. The adventure is easy to follow and full of school-age humor, and two forest fairies provide comedy with their slapstick, strange voices, and snappy one-liners. Lucas' fantasy has interesting-looking characters and villages, gothic castles, and, most of all, magic. Willow is an excellent choice to give young kids a taste of fantasy.

Recommended for ages 8 & up.

Rated PG 

Back to the Future (1985) 
Brimming with lighthearted energy, Back to the Future mixes science fiction with romantic comedy for a classic 1980s blockbuster. It should come as little surprise that Steven Spielberg executive-produced it. Like so many of his films, it manages to blend heady science fiction, humor, adventure, and romance while retaining an exuberance and a sense of wonder familiar to anyone under the age of 12.

Recommended for ages 10 & up.

Rated PG 

Flight of the Navigator (1986)
In Flight of the Navigator
, a 12-year-old Miami boy is abducted by an alien in 1978 and ends up eight years into the future. It's all very well done, with clever shots that make everyday objects look like they just might be from a spacecraft, and very affecting scenes between David and his new, older family. This is a charming film, with enough drama and humor to please almost any viewer.

Recommended for ages 10 & up. 

Rated PG 

The Goonies* (1985)
The Goonies is a rambunctious, noisy, pirate-themed treasure-hunt action-fantasy—all the ingredients that kids—and parents!—will love.

Recommended for ages 10 & up.

Rated PG 

*The character of "Clever Data' (Jonathan Ke Quan) speaks with a stereotypically “Asian” accent and is (also stereotypically) a gadget freak.

Chariots of Fire (1981)
This film is wonderfully evocative of the time and place, with superb performances. Chariots of Fire shows us the source of two runners' determination: for one, a need to prove his worth to himself and the society that discriminates against him; for the other, a way of connecting to God. The film deservedly won the Oscars for best picture, screenplay, costume design and music.

Recommended for ages 11 & up.

Rated PG 

Check out the entire list of radical ’80s movies for kids and teens of all ages at Common Sense Media.