17 Iconic 80s Movies You Don’t Want Your Teens To Miss

Growing up in the 80s, movies always made a big impression on me. I had three siblings and we were a one-income family so the day my father came home with a VCR was huge.

We hardly went to the movies. We’d stay in and my mom would pop popcorn, or heat up a Salisbury steak TV dinner and pop in a movie.

Oh, and how exciting it was if a good one came on television–we made sure to hit the record button after inserting a blank tape. Over the years our collection of kick-butt movies grew and now that my kids are teens, I love sharing all my favorites with them.

They can make remarks about how these 80s movies were “made in the 1900s” all they want. Their mama comes from “the best movies were made in the ‘80s” camp and here is the all-star list you must watch with your teens.

80s Movies to Watch With Your Teens

After all, it’s a cultural milestone all kids need to experience.

1. Say Anything

John Cusack lifting a stereo over his head, under a window will forever be etched in our brains.

2. Back to the Future (all of them)

These movies were so intriguing and 2015 seemed like light years away when we were growing up. And yet, here we are almost 4 years past the date Marty time-traveled to and we don’t feel that much older.

3. Top Gun

That volleyball scene turned me into a woman. That sound track still gives me the chills. Almost every line in that movie became epic (talk to me, Goose), and I’m totally taking my kids to see the Top Gun movie coming out in 2020 but they must watch the first before that because I’m sure the new one will not compare.

4. The Goonies

The adventure, the friendship, the quest to help their parents and save their homes. We love this film for its innocence and the booby traps, dusty maps and who could forget The Truffle Shuffle?

5. The Outsiders

The amazing cast was the reason my friends and I had to see this movie. My kids are reading this book by S. E. Hinton for school (which of course is better), but they are excited about seeing the movie. The nicknames, the struggle to fit in, the bond between brothers and how it touches on the social structure in the 60s.

6. Footloose

We loved it for the dancing and how vulnerable Kevin Bacon was being the new kid, liking the popular girl, and standing up for something. But the last scene where everyone is dancing at prom makes the movie.

7. Karate Kid

Ralph Macchio was a first crush for many. This movie showed us all that being labeled as an underdog doesn’t mean you are one.

8. E.T.

Part fairy tale, part Sci-fi, ET pulls at our heart-strings. This strange creature was abandoned and left alone and who should find him but a sweet boy whose parents have separated. Any how many times have you said, “Phone home” in your life?

9. Raiders of the Lost Ark

This movie is the reason why many of us are now afraid of snakes and spiders but with all the adventure, we just  couldn’t stop watching.

10. Ghostbusters

Mr. Stay Puft; The Marshmallow Man made me afraid to put marshmallows in my hot cocoa for a spell but I got over it. All that slime, when Sigourney Weaver was floating above the bed after being possessed by Zuul, and who could forget the librarian ghost? Ghost Busters was part horror and part comedy which is probably why it never gave me bad dreams.

11. The Breakfast Club

A movie about a group of different kids sitting in Saturday detention that touches on so many universal issues for our teens. It was said that the writer of this film, John Hughes, wrote the screenplay in just a few days based on some of his own high school experiences.

12. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

My sisters and I still use famous lines for from this movie. It was the one we’d watch while skipping school ourselves since we didn’t have access to a fancy sports car or hundreds of dollars to go out to lunch in the city.

13. National Lampoon Vacation Movies

All 0f the National Lampoon still make me roll off the sofa with laughter. They never get old. Our favorite is “National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.” We love cousin Randy and the scene where he goes and captured Clark’s boss.

14. Harry and the Hendersons

My kids have watched this movie over a dozen times and still laugh just as hard as they did the first time they saw it. A sweet, mushy movie about forgiveness never gets old.

15. Mannequin

Yes, it’s a film about a man who makes a mannequin and falls in love with it, but we can’t get enough. Romance, comedy, fantasy– this movie has it all.

16. Fast Times at Ridgemont High

This was the one we used to watch with friends on Friday nights. Based on two siblings, Brad and Stacy, Fast Times at Ridgemont High was actually a book written by Cameron Crowe and covers a wide range of teenage issues.

17. When Harry Met Sally

Meg Ryan didn’t just teach me how to fake the “Big O,” she taught me how to do it right. While eating pie. She is the only hero I’ll ever need.

So now, the only thing you need to do is grab some snacks and take a walk back to nostalgia town with your kiddos.They may say that these movies are “old-fashioned” but we guarantee they will love them.


Senior Year of High School Feels Like The Year Of Tears

28 Favorite College Care Package Ideas For Guys

About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

Read more posts by Katie

Don't miss out!
Want more like this? Get updates straight to your inbox.