Inside: Looking to give your teens a glimpse into your childhood? Here are 23 of our favorite 80s movies to watch with teens
They just don’t make them like they used to…sigh. The ’80s really were the best decade for teen movies. You just can’t beat the classics that combined John Hughes, The Brat Pack, and the whole genre they inspired. (You might also like to check out our list of favorite 80s books.)
So, before you blink and these teens of yours graduate high school and start their own lives, don’t miss out on the opportunity to share these favorites from your own teens years with them. (You might also like to check out Why I Parent Like It’s the 1980s)
Also, to me these are “teen” movies, so you won’t see other classics from this decade that actually could be watched by a younger audience like Star Wars, E.T., Adventures in Babysitting, or Raiders of the Lost Ark, for example. If your kids haven’t seen those yet however, it’s time for a 1980s movie marathon weekend. You’re seriously neglecting their cinematic education. 😉
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23 of the Best 80’s Movies to Watch with Teens
Great 80s Movies to Watch With Teens That Won’t Make You Cringe
This is probably our number one 80s movie to watch with teens. There are so many great lines (Bueller. Bueller. Bueller) in this comedy. And it touches upon so many great themes like young romance, friendship, and making the most out of life. It’s just good fun. It’s hard for any teenager not to fall in love with Ferris (and hope that he and Sloane got married!) We also love this “Save Ferris” t-shirt as a gift for the 80s movie lover.
2. Top Gun
“I feel the need. The need for SPEED!” This is such a great watch for a Friday family movie night. Everyone with a heart will root for Maverick (which put Tom Cruise on the map) to save the world and get the girl. Plus, there are so many memorable lines in it that your kids just need to know like, “Talk to me, Goose” or “That’s a negative Ghostrider. The pattern is full.” Plus, the soundtrack alone is worth watching the movie again. Tell me you won’t be singing Highway to the Danger Zone or You Lost That Loving Feeling for the rest of the night….
3. The Goonies
“Hey You Guys!” This is the quintessential 80s movie when kids used to run off for hours on an adventure and their parents had no idea where they were. Who can forget Chunk, Data, Mikey, and Mouth and how they searched for a way to save their friend’s childhood home by finding the treasure of the famous pirate One-Eyed Willy? And when the group takes Sloth in as one of their own? Tell me you don’t get a little teary. And remember. “Never say die.”
4. The Princess Bride
“Inconceivable!” This cult classic is a must-watch for your teens. This movie has it all. Romance. Adventure. Action. Fight scenes. Giants and pirates. Humor. And so much more. Your whole family will be quoting the best lines like, “I don’t think that word means what you think it means” before you know it.
5. Say Anything
John Cusack melts our hearts in this sweet movie about teen love. Who hasn’t wanted their boyfriend to stand outside their window holding up a boom box playing a love song? The entire movie is worth showing to your kids for just that scene alone.
McFly! I mean, you can’t beat this film for those amazing 80s effects and the solid acting of one hunky Michael J. Fox. This is probably family-friendly for all ages, but we think teens can relate to it so much more. And how Christopher Lloyd didn’t win an Oscar as Doc is beyond us.
I think I spent most of middle school saying, “Wax On, Wax Off” every chance I could get, and there’s a reason why middle-aged parents are often yelling at their kids to “Sweep the Leg!” All three of these films made entire movie theaters stand up and cheer for underdog Danny (played by Ralph Macchio) when he finally was able to stand up to his bullies. This is another movie that the whole family can enjoy, but the message really strikes a chord with teenagers.
8. Mystic Pizza
Before she was a Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts was a small town waitress with three of her besties at the real-life Mystic Pizza in Connecticut. This coming-of-age drama felt like real-life back in the 80s when everyone was just scraping to get by and figure out who they wanted to be in this world.
We’re going to go out on a limb and say this was the great Robin Williams’ best performance and we all wanted to have him as our own English teacher. We laughed, we cried, we were inspired, and it even made us think about reading a few books. O Captain, My Captain, you are one of our faves.
10. The Outsiders
When you talk about 80s movies and teens, you have to talk about The Outsiders. “Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.” Who could forget that iconic line, that great story, and the amazing cast with every 80s poster boy available? This coming-of-age drama shred our teen girl hearts to bits and then put it back together again at the end.
The Best 80s Movies to Watch with Teens with a Little Bit More Mature Content
11. Sixteen Candles
OK, we know that this movie has not aged well and the behavior is wrong. BUT, it does provide you with an excellent opportunity to have a discussion with your teens about appropriate behavior and how much times have changed. Just remember, there are a lot of unsavory scenes in it, so this might be better suited towards older teens.
12. Pretty In Pink
When you think about 80s movies to watch with teens, this one definitely is at the top of the list. Oh, Duckie. It hurts how much you loved Andie. This is one of John Hughes’ most classic love stories about a rich boy who falls in love with a girl on the other side of the tracks. There is a lot of heartbreak in this movie, but the themes are a little bit more digestible for teens of all ages.
13. The Breakfast Club
This movie almost made me want to get Saturday detention. Your kids might have first been introduced to The Breakfast Club in Pitch Perfect when they sing “Don’t You, Forget About Me,” so it might be time to show them where that defiant hand in the air came from. This is another one that might be better for older teens. The Breakfast Club is a popular ’80s film that deals with edgy teen issues. Topics such as suicide, depression, social alienation, materialism, sex, and physical and emotional abuse are discussed openly. It can be an excellent opportunity to talk about these issues as a family. But everyone can relate to the letter written at the end by Anthony Michael Hall’s character, signed by the nerd, the princess, the jock, the basket case, and the criminal. And aren’t we a little bit of all of them?
14. Dirty Dancing
My teenagers cracked up when they heard this was the movie their dad used to watch with girls, but it only took them one viewing to fall in love with the music and start quoting, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner.”
“Greetings and Salutations.” Before there were “Mean Girls” there was Heathers, the scariest clique ever. There’s a reason this movie is still talked about to this day, more than 20 years after its release, and that’s because of its fantastic story, smart dialogue, dark humor, and amazing characters. It’s a must-watch so you can remember just how iconic this movie is. As Veronica would say, “How very.”
Some of our other favorite 80s movies include:
17. Stand by Me
18. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
22. Can’t Buy Me Love (Look at you now, McDreamy!)
23. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Bonus Movies You Can Watch With Your Teens
Okay, these weren’t exactly 80’s movies, but it really feels like they should have been. Either way, they are essential movies from past decades you should watch with your teen.
Raising teens can be fun, but it can also be so challenging. If you could use a little more support and encouragement, check out these other popular posts.
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