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

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.

 

Stand By Me (1986)

Age appropriate: 8-ish

This could be another tough sell because of the subject (kids searching for a dead body in the wilderness and the setting being set over 60 years back) but I can’t think of another entertaining coming-of-age boys bonding flick in this era. It has a ton of heart, great acting and equally great humor. It’s a unique movie from the mind of Stephen King and is still a great timeless movie.

 

 

 


The Fly (1986)

Age appropriate: 10-ish

Another fantastic horror movie that is tough to beat in even today’s standards. This movie has its ardent fans and probably a ton of other people just forgot how great it is. It’s gruesome and gross but the theme of mutating one’s body and a failed obsession with science is a departure from hockey-masked maniacs of the era. Jeff Goldblum is at his finest nerd rock star in this. And again, I know I sound like a broken record but the special effects are top-notch and feel extraordinarily more realistic than our modern day CGI counterparts. Definitely not for the squeamish but if your kid loves horror, he/she should love this.

 

 


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Age appropriate: 10-ish

Can’t beat a better cool mischievous cat like Ferris. In the words of secretary Grace: “…He’s a righteous dude.” A good role model? That’s debatable but I adored Ferris and absolutely loved this film since I saw it. Still as hilarious and still as charming with a tough to beat soundtrack as well. I watched this recently with my 10-year-old and she liked it, not loved it but she’s weird with film (honestly). But the fact that she liked it speaks volumes. Maybe teens will identify with Ferris more but I still think younger kids are OK watching this. Pretty tame all things considered.

 

 


Labyrinth (1986)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

Another Henson gem and arguably his finest film. My personal favorite anyway. Mostly because of David Bowie’s performance and music but also because I had have a huge crush on Jennifer Connelly. But in all seriousness this is a gorgeous looking film with incredible puppetry and effects. The humor is a little more for younger viewers I will admit but this film makes up for it in danger and slight sexual sinisterness. I can maybe argue to say daughters may identify with this movie more than the lads but that shouldn’t stop you from inviting them to the family movie night for this stupendous flick. Highly recommended.

 

 


Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

Age appropriate: 5-ish

Good musicals that could hold the attention for kids of all ages are hard to come by—it was never my favorite genre growing up—but when it works, it really works. Case in point with this quirky gem. The songs are so good, set design impeccable and acting charming that you forget it’s about a lowly hapless clerk that kills people and feeds them to his insatiable carnivorous mutant Venus fly trap. And this film pokes fun at the tone by being hilarious to boot. Definitely an odd choice for children because Disney never dares venture into this sort of horror-comedy stuff nowadays but back in the 80s, movie studios took these kind of risks. And for that we’re grateful.

 

 


Raising Arizona (1987)

Age appropriante: 7-ish

This one is an odd choice but because of my personal experience with it back then and how much I love and respect the Coen Brothers now I had to include it. Zany and weird at times and definitely off-kilter from most of the films of the era (and this) I think this could be a decent wild card for today’s youth. It’s clean enough to show youngsters and it’s off-brand, almost cartoonish humor might entice them. If they watch and love this then down the road when they’re older they can then watch and understand all the Big Lebowski references all over the internet.

 

 


The Princess Bride (1987)

Age appropriate: 5-ish

Another top five choice for timeless and must-see films. A safe bet for sure for kids of all ages. It’s still fun to watch when you’re 40, trust me. It has charm, thrills, scares and wicked humor that will delight the whole family. I can’t reap praise on this movie enough yet for some reason I’m at a loss of words. However, I’m sure 99% of you reading this either has seen it, loved it and can’t wait to see it again with your kids for the first time.

 

 


Spaceballs (1987)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

I’ve noticed on this site whenever I mention spoofs I immediately think of the Zucker brothers spoofs like Airplane and The Naked Guns, however, Mel Brooks shaped my weird, off color humor just as much growing up. While I feel like Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein are far superior films, Spaceballs will be an easier sell to today’s kids since it’s spoofing something they know and possibly love—Star Wars. I remember rewatching this a few years back and actually being a tad disappointed at how lame and dumb some of the gags and jokes were but my nostalgia for the film reminded me that this was staple for me and my friends back in the day. So, sure not the best spoof of the lot but a great way to introduce Brooks to the youngsters. Then maybe later on you can try Blazing Saddles. 

 


Dirty Dancing (1987)

Age appropriate: 10-ish

Another wild card choice and probably a safer bet for the daughters. This was never my favorite flick or one that made me sit down and watch whenever it was on constant repeat on cable, however I respect its place in the 80s pantheon of important and timeless films. I have daughters so I have zero qualms in showing this to them as a family one day. In fact, I think they should see it. Honestly, I have not seen in its entirety since the 80s but I do recall it being a bit racy and deserving of the PG-13 rating back then but we all saw it when we were 10-ish so what’s the big deal? The soundtrack alone is reason enough as is introducing the gals to Patrick Swayze. Don’t look at me like that!

 


The Lost Boys (1987)

Age appropriate: 10-ish

Cool teenage vampires in California? The young kids today missed out (thank GAWD) on the Twilight series of films but I would advise you to never bother with Kristen Stewart’s dead-eye gazes and instead go back to the 80s and watch The Lost Boys instead. Still one of the more entertaining, fun, funny and scary horror flicks from that era that should be a huge hit for the whole family. With 80s styles back in vogue, this could work greatly in introducing the kids to this gem.

 

 

 


The Monster Squad (1987)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

This is basically Goonies if the Goonies fought classic Universal monsters. If joining the Goonies was impossible, The Monster Squad was my second choice of gang to hang out with. Sure, it’s a little goofy and second-rate to Goonies but it makes up for in scares and cool monster effects. I still think its a fun movie with its flaws but I think the kids could love it as it is more geared towards younger audiences. Probably not a crowd pleaser for a family movie night as much as like The Princess Bride or Ghostbusters but still a decent choice to keep the kids entertained easily.

 

 


Big (1988)

Age appropriate: 10-ish

A weird coming-of-age story that I loved when I was 10, this might be a tough sell for today’s youth. However, it’s a decent choice especially for a more mature minded kid. it does have some mature and adult-themed aspects but nothing too confusing or revealing. Plus, this is a great way to introduce one the finest actors of his generation—Tom Hanks. I’m sure most kids today have only seen/heard him as Woody the cowboy and it’s high time they get to know him better. This was Hanks cross-over movie from wacky comedian to serious thespian and it’s still a cute and charming movie. 

 

 


Die Hard (1988)

Age appropriate: 10-ish

I always flinch with recommending Die Hard to younger audiences and I don’t know why. Sure it’s uber-violent and has a mouth like a drunken sailor but I was 11 when I saw this! I can’t imagine what my life would’ve been like it if me and my friends hadn’t seen this until we were appropriate aged. I remember this hit cable in the summer of 1989 around my birthday when I turned 11. We played it during my birthday party and the whole party, kids and adults, had a ball watching it. And it probably wasn’t anyone’s first time watching it either if I recall correctly. It set the bar for what action flicks could be and it’s tough to find a more entertaining choice. Plus, Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber is one of the best movie villains of all time and I’m sure most kids only know him as Professor Snape.

 


Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

Because of its technical achievement alone, I included this one. But I think it still holds up as a compelling and entertaining movie for all ages. Plus what better way to introduce the new generation to classic cartoon characters? However, Roger Rabbit is an odd choice it’s one of the few on my lists that I’m not sure if today’s kids will like. Not sure if it’s the time period, the goofy old-style cartoon humor or what. I highly doubt that them seeing humans and cartoons together on screen together will impress them since that’s a normal effect these days but I would give it a shot anyway.

 

 


Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1988)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

I think in normal list making I wouldn’t think much of including this “Stoner” comedy about two idiots traveling through time for a high school history report. But upon reflection for movies appropriate enough this could be a great choice. It’s definitely safe enough in terms of language or sexual stuff and what better way to have them “learn” about Ghengis Khan, Sigmund Freud and Soh-crates? It’s still dumb comedy but funny too. Keanu Reeves has grown from doofus to highly acclaimed actor now so what better introduction. I feel like this could be a sleeper hit among today’s youth. Also the third installment is coming out soon.

 

 


Beetlejuice (1988)

Age appropriate: 5-ish

Probably the best horror-comedy geared for children and families. And still hilarious and kooky. it might seem like it’s perfect for just Hot Topic Goth kids but it’s not—it’s still sweet and Tim Burton’s best weird film. Looking at my list I’m not that surprised that Tim Burton has the second most directed films, second only to Spielberg. Makes sense to me. Who else made tongue-in-cheek movies that flirted with the macabre and off-brand while also being sweet and charming enough for kids to watch. Beetlejuice is of no exception and still a helluva fun movie to watch.

 

 


Willow (1988)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

I’m willing to bet most of you forgot all about Willow. That’s OK it’s not the most memorable fantasy movie nor is it the most compelling. But it’s still a great choice and a safe movie to show kids of any generation. It does have good special effects and fun characters as well as great fantasy action. Not a shabby movie by any means.

 

   

 

 


Batman (1989)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

Like I mentioned with Superman, I was hesitant to include comic book-based superheroes, especially the famous ones but it’s probably safe to say that most kids today haven’t seen Tim Burton’s Batman. I don’t blame them, there have been 2 (soon a 3rd) new cinematic Batmen and 3 Jokers in the past 10 years. But for such an iconic super hero why not introduce them to the one that started the Dark Knight phenomenon. Before 1989, most kids thought Bats was kinda lame mostly because of the old 60s TV show. But when the ’89 version hit, it was a brand new darker-toned Batman that hit the nation by storm. It’s still a gorgeous gothic movie filled with memorable fun and thrilling scenes. Still the best Batmobile and Jack Nicholson’s Joker is still the most entertaining of the other Jokers.

 


Glory (1989)

Age appropriate: 10-ish

The one genre that I didn’t have too choices for was the War film. None in the past 40 years really stood out as either relevant or appropriate for young kids. If we’re talking high schoolers who want a little more insight into the Vietnam conflict then sure, go ahead and introduce them to the myriad of Oliver Stone movies. Oliver Stone doesn’t fit this must-see list. That’s not to say that kids shouldn’t learn the dark side of war or why some conflicts are worth fighting. Some wars shape history and countries and the US Civil War is arguably the war most worthy of that sentiment. While Glory doesn’t just focus on battles and heroism of fighting, it cleverly more illuminates the racial divide on why that war was fought. Denzel Washington’s character and performance is top notch and it’s majorly important to let our kid’s know exactly the truth of what dark history our country has. So while Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July and other Vietnam movies dominated the 80s, Glory snuck in there and highlighted the Civil War as a social commentary instead.


Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

This one might be the only Disney-produced film on my list (OK that’s not entirely true but it’s the one that feels the most Disney to me) but I included it because it’s largely forgotten. Although it’s now on Disney+ and there’s a sequel/reboot of it in the works. But I enjoyed it back in the day for its cool sci-fi concept and the impressive (at the time) special effects. Maybe, since I haven’t seen it since the 90s is the main reason I included it because I want to rewatch it with my kids but I think it’s a very good choice as well for all kids to check out.

 

 


Weekend at Bernie’s (1989)

Age appropriate: 13-ish

I will defend this comedy til the day I die that it’s one of the best in the genre. I don’t care what you think. It is hilarious and mature-themed and light-hearted enough for teenagers. Dumb quirky concept of two ne’er-do-wells trying to make their crooked dead boss still seem alive to save themselves is funny enough but add to that the great performances from Andrew McCarthy, Terry Kiser, Jonathan Silverman, as well as whoever played the hitman and I could watch this once a week. It’s the Some Like It Hot of my generation. Instead of two guys posing as ladies to stay alive, it’s two guys pretending their boss is still alive to save themselves and have a nice weekend. Kids today need to see this gem.

 


Do The Right Thing (1989)

Age appropriate: 13-ish

This is definitely for older kids, Middle-schoolers for sure. Not so much for the subject matter being risqué or such harsh language but because of the underlying theme of racial tension. But this is an important film to show young adults to highlight how racially divided our nation is and the evils that are included with it. Sadly, this 31-year-old movie is still relevant and reflects today’s society. The fact that history hasn’t changed or is repeating is a sad reflection on society and maybe this movie is still worth watching and discussing. 

 

 


Tomorrow begins the naughty 90s!

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

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