100 Movies From 1975–2005 That Every Kid Should/Could See (Part ONE!)

Since I now have an abundant of free time lately with my family, it’s a good time to think about some classic films that my kids should see from my past childhood. I don’t know about you but I’m sick of seeing Frozen 2 for the 16th time or watch their brains melt from the countless hours of iPad watching. I’d much rather introduce them to movies that are either culturally relevant, historically interesting or even more technically superior and, well, better written movies. I chose 100 for this list but a lot of these picks are part of franchises and have sequels and prequels or spin-offs that could also be decent choices. This list is from 1975 to around 2005 which is right before my kids were born (truth is I also couldn’t think of much past 2005 anyway that is worth showing them) and it’s mostly personal choices of flicks I enjoyed at various stages in my development as a film connoisseur. The list will be in chronological order to make things easier to list for me. And I will also point out age ratings since there will be more mature content in some of these choices. I also didn’t mention any animated movies or movies that are only aimed for children—This list is mainly adult or teenaged geared movies since Gen Z kids are nearing, or close to, 10-years of age now. Quick tangent—are you like me and have some strange apprehension to showing the same movies to your kids at the same age you saw them? Like, by the time I was 10 I saw Die Hard, Nightmare on Elm Street and Full Metal Jacket but oddly enough I balk at the choice for my own kids even though I turned out OK (mostly). So take that into consideration when choosing any of these 100 choices while under quarantine and decide to pop on say, Silence of the Lambs for your 7-year-old.


Jaws (1975)

Age appropriate: 5-ish

There’s a reason I choose 1975 as my starting point and it’s mainly because of Spielberg’s blockbuster Jaws. I saw Jaws (and its sequels) so much as a kid that I don’t remember how old I was. Granted, I was way more into the gruesome stuff and leaned towards horror flicks (Quint spitting up blood being eaten by Bruce was always one of my favorite scenes), I think Jaws is one of those movies that stand the test of time. For a great horror–thriller time, you still can’t find a better choice. As I grew older, there was more than the horror element that attracted me to Jaws. Whether it’s the iconic soundtrack, to the fantastic acting by the principle three actors; this movie is never dull or loses it’s appeal. I watch this at least once a year and it never gets boring.

 


Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Age appropriate: 10-ish

Besides horror, my second favorite type of movie was comedy. I first saw Monty Python in middle school and before that I was well versed in classic comedy like the Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello and Looney Tunes as well as Naked Gun-style spoofs and Police Academy movies. But when my (now) step-father introduced me to Monty Python, nothing could’ve prepared me for this kind of absurd comedy. It was a revelation into this strange new world of comedy antics that completed me. I think if your kids are into comedy and are old enough, this is a great introduction into some new odd-ball territory.

 

 


The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Age appropriate: 13-ish

I did not care about Rocky Horror until I was close to 18 years old. I never heard a good thing about it and the only people that did like it, I didn’t like or trust. I admit my wrongs and this is one kooky and wild flick that should be beloved by everyone. It’s not exactly “family-friendly” but as it’s nearly it’s 45-year anniversary, you can’t deny it has staying power and sure, seeing it live with an audience is definitely the preferred way to go, I can’t but help but think that this is way tamer in 2020 than it was conceived back then. My kids already have seen actual transsexuals/genders working at our local mall so the idea of a singing Tim Curry in drag ain’t that much of a pearl-clutching idea.

 


Rocky (1976)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

You can’t go wrong with Rocky. Or the 12 sequels that has been made since. Sure, there’s a million other inspirational sports flicks out there but this is Sylvester Stallone at his finest. This is boxing at its finest. This is Philadelphia at its finest. This flick also stands the test of time and it’s also an Oscar winner to boot. The sequels get goofy and dumb but still a lot of fun if your kids like the first one. Actually, the first one might be the least favorite by kids today. But it is very culturally important still and what kid wouldn’t want to run down the street to “Gonna Fly Now” in a Tik Tok video?

 

 


All The President’s Men (1976)

Age appropriate: 13-ish

It’s been a long time since I saw All the President’s Men but I recall seeing this in school in history class. And for good reason—not all history is easy to learn from books and not all history is easy to swallow when your own government is the villain. Well maybe in the 90s I was still naive to believe that the president or congress could be corrupt but maybe kids today know better at a younger age. I mean, look at most headlines and today’s political outlook and maybe the older kids already know what took us longer to learn. At any rate this is still a great thriller that may or may to inspire future conspiracy theorists to become crusaders for the truth. Just on a historical Aspect this movie should be seen by all generations.

 


Network (1976)

Age appropriante: 13-ish

Again, it’s been a long time since I seen this (guess I should’ve used my free time these past few weeks prepping this list better) but again Network, like All the President’s Men, is a culturally significant movie even if it is over 40 years old. It’s probably MORE relevant today with cable news and “reality TV” dominating people’s media input. I was thinking that it’s a shame that I’m limiting this list to just half of the 70s and not including 60s movies (The Graduate, To Kill a Mockingbird, Planet of the Apes, Rosemary’s Baby—There! snuck in a few!) but looking now, the 70s movies with their political and cultural views are eerily similar to today’s topical climate. 

 

 


Star Wars (1977)

Age appropriate: 3-ish

Well, duh. The franchise that appeals to all and took the film industry to new heights since the 70s is on this list. It’s a no-brainer and I shouldn’t even have to discuss it further. Chances are great that your kids have already watched something Star Wars related but if your children haven’t already seen the first one, you should always—ALWAYS—start with Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope. My brother actually is introducing his younglings to the saga and asked me if he should bother with the sequels/prequels and I said sure, why not. I actually advised him to watch it in a particular order if his kid’s are really into it. That order is IV, V and then do the prequels since the Vader/Skywalker twist is revealed, so you can see Anakin’s downfall as like a flashback and then after episode III, go back to the regular order. Of course you can skip Phantom Menace if you want since it barely is necessary to any other film in the saga.


Superman: The Movie (1978)

Age appropriate: 3-ish

I was debating putting any comic book superhero flicks on this lists since it’s debatable that they are mostly geared towards young kids but these older ones are probably largely forgotten. The original Christopher Reeve Superman was the first modern-day superhero flick and arguably still the best. It’s a gold standard of a superhero origin story as well as myth-making at its finest. Superman is the archetypical American superhero and all kids should see the best and purest way that he could be portrayed. While the Zack Snyder Superman flicks may look better and has a better look and feel to today’s youngsters they greatly lack the true superhero tone of what Superman should be. Plus Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor is hands-down the best superhero villain of all time.

 


Grease (1978)

Age appropriate: 7 / 13

I put in 7 / 13 as the age appropriateness because even though this musical has a ton of sexual innuendo and references, most of this goes way over a youngsters’ head and won’t be trouble if you decide to watch it as a family. The music is iconic, the acting and dancing are top-notch and who doesn’t love a musical featuring high school kids. My kids already watched this and enjoyed it (stay away from Grease 2 though) and my oldest has already did a dance production based on it so she’s more than well-versed in it. And yeah, she still doesn’t get the adult-themes yet and she’s 10.

 

 


Halloween (1978)

Age appropriate: 13-ish

Now I know I grew up with an affinity towards horror flicks and the slasher genre was probably my favorite. I, at first, hesitated putting in these type of flicks but after some pondering, I realized that these movies are iconic still and should be great entertainment for kids of any generation. While a mask wearing maniac is more or less passé in the 21st century the idea that evil can exist in any person is an important theme. Later on in this list I also include Friday the 13th for more or less the same reason—pure scare entertainment! If your kids like horror then this is a great introduction to the slasher genre and if they were anything like me, will get sucked in to the cat-&-mouse appeal of maniacs stalking teenage victims. This is one does have a sex scene with nudity so parental discretion is advised.

 


Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Age appropriate: 15-ish

If your teen is already watching and enjoying any of the Walking Dead series then why not introduce them to the grandfather of all zombie flicks. I will admit that this is a hard sell with not the best acting, the pacing could be slow as well as being a long movie but I watched most of the Walking Dead seasons and that show is just as slow with equally terrible acting. But seeing the fashion and trends of the 70s could be tough for a Gen Z kid. But it’s a classic and still one of the best horror movies ever made with an effective metaphor to the horrors of consumerism.

 

 


Alien (1979)

Age appropriate: 10-ish

One of the scariest options on my list, which is saying something. Still one of my favorites and I can’t wait to watch this with my girls since it features arguably the best bad-ass heroine in a film franchise—Ellen Ripley played with aplomb by Sigourney Weaver. But the sci-fi element is what makes this stand out from the other horror flicks on the list. But even without the space stuff, this is one scary movie and still stands the test of time. And of course, you can always substitute this for Aliens, if you want to tone down the horror element and add more action.

 

 


The Muppet Movie (1979)

Age appropriate: 3-ish

My childhood is made up of a lot of cultural elements and a lot of my growing up has been with Jim Henson’s Muppets. We learned from Sesame Street, laughed along with Kermit and company and as you’ll see later on in this list, was given a good heap of scares, thrills and imagination from The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. But now that Disney owns the Muppets they are more easily exposed to the newer generation. I adore the Muppets and still find them relevant today. Well, maybe I’m biased, but they comfort me in ways no other film or TV show or music does. Not sure why and it bugs me that my kids don’t much care for the old movies or TV shows featuring Henson’s creatures. But that’s not the Muppets fault and I feel as long as Disney is featuring them, the older movies and TV shows should be exposed to these kids as well. And puppetry is an important art form!


Airplane! (1980)

Age appropriate: ???

This one was a tough call and one of the flicks that was the catalyst for the idea for this list. I saw Airplane while still in elementary school and laughed my ass off. Did I get all the gags? Not sure—probably not. Will today’s kids get less of the jokes since it’s so much older for them? Perhaps. Are spoofs a passé genre for this young generation raised on YouTubers and Tik-Tok? The answers are unclear and could easily be a thesis paper or book. All In know is this is a cornerstone of comedy and you’d have to be dead not to find this movie funny. Again, I’m not sure what age would get this, understand the gags better or what-not but I can’t wait to find out soon if my kids will be entertained with the irrelevancy. This goes for all the Zucker/Abrahams spoofs like Naked Gun and Top Secret. They might be good but I would stay away from the Kentucky Fried Movie and Hot Shots as those are too specific and or really out-dated.


Friday the 13th (1980)

Age appropriate: 13-ish

What was said for Halloween could be said for Friday the 13th, save one element: The Star. I kinda cheated with this one—I really don’t think you should watch the first Friday the 13th since this one (SPOILER) doesn’t feature the main attraction to the other dozen flicks—Jason! Mythically speaking, it would be great to start with the first installment but that one, even I, watched the least since getting into this franchise. My trilogy of Jason flicks is Parts 2, 3, 4 as the gold standard of slasher flicks. Watching him develop as a serial killer is best watching 2 through 4. But all the others have their ups and downs. While the first Halloween is great, the sequels are not so great and it’s a suffering franchise with a lot of repetition. The Friday the 13ths at least changed some things around and tried new things. Some worked, some failed but you can’t call it a boring film series. Again, watch out for the foul language and various nude/sex scenes. I don’t know how my folks allowed me to watch these.


Popeye (1980)

Age appropriate: 4-ish

I admit, this is a personal pick for me but why not give it a shot? Sadly, I think maybe, 6% of today’s kids know who Popeye is but that’s society’s fault for allowing such great esteemed cartoons fall to the wayside. But this film is madcap, sweet, endearing, funny and great music to boot. And I’m willing to bet most Gen Z’s have no clue to who Robin Williams is, this is a great way to introduce him. This is a safe-bet down memory lane if you haven’t seen it since you were a kid and should be a great time with the whole family.

 

 

 


Caddyshack (1980)

Age appropriate: 13-ish

Every kid should be introduced to the original SNL Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time players and while there’s a slew of great choices, I picked Caddyshack since it’s probably the easiest and tamest for younger viewers. But by all means, if you want to attempt Animal House or Blues Brothers or Spies Like Us, be my guest. This one at least has an animatronic gopher dancing giving a better impression that this is more kid-friendly. Sure there’s some drug references and sex-stuff but nothing too harmful I feel. Bill Murray is a comedy god and every kid should see him in his prime. Chevy Chase, sadly, is a creep nowadays but his flicks are some of the best of the era too. And I’d be remiss to mention the comedy legend, Rodney Dangerfield who has some of the best one-liners ever to grace the silver screen. What also sets this film apart from Animal House and the other SNL-veteran movies is that this one features a decent cast of teenaged characters going through tough life trials that younger viewers can identify with. Definitely one of my higher recommendations.


That’s all for today. Come back tomorrow for the first half of the 80s, where more of the choices are prime for younger viewers and family-movie nights. 

15 thoughts on “100 Movies From 1975–2005 That Every Kid Should/Could See (Part ONE!)

  1. I love this idea and I love this list!
    My mom provided no shelter or censorship whatsoever for our viewing and we definitely watched a bunch of stuff we “shouldn’t have” during formative years, but we turned out just fucking great. We used to go to Blockbuster and get their 6 movies for a week for $5.99 deal on all the non-new releases and then binge them all week before doing it all over again the next week. That’s how we got acquainted with the classics like Jaws, Rocky, Robocop, etc. Man, I miss cruising the video store aisles choosing stuff based on the movie cover artwork alone. Scrolling through Netflix and seeing the same 15 movies repeated in 30 different categories is so not the same!
    I can’t wait to see what’s on the rest of the list 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks! Yeah like Ben Kingsley said: “This list is an absolute good. The list is life.” Even though most of these movies are obvious choices to us, there’s a good chance most parents today wouldn’t bother thinking of some of these.

      I miss the good ol’ days of video stores too! Although it’s way easier to find weird shit with digital downloads and streaming services. I also miss the “Adults-only” rooms at my local Easy Video!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I think a lot of parents just let Netflix make the choices for them. I recently discovered that my local library in the ‘burbs is a treasure trove of great movies! It’s so awesome and a bit of an overlooked gem. It’s free and they have so much selection! It’s like my replacement video store now. And thankfully I still have a device around that can play DVDs!

        I also discovered so many of these movies just by channel surfing back before T.V. services had any kind of “guide” channel or menus you could reference. Kids today will never know the joy of landing on a channel where some random movie was starting up, watching the intro credits and hoping to see a title that sounded good, or trying to guess what movie you thought it might be.

        Can’t wait to see the rest of your picks!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Also whatever the cable stations premiered on the weekends. And hoping to see the “The following movie has been rated R by the MPAA. It is intended for mature audiences.” And then the next screen showed why it’s R with Strong Language, Nudity or Strong Sexual Content.

          Liked by 1 person

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