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

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.

 

Goodfellas (1990)

Age appropriate: 13-ish

The Godfather may be the, well the, godfather of the modern mafiaso movie, and I would include it on this list if it was made after 1975, however, in my personal opinion, Goodfellas is more entertaining. For one the witty and sardonic Ray Liotta narration for one. Joe Pesci in his tour de force performance for another. deft direction from the master Martin Scorsese and the great soundtrack. Most kids today don’t know classic crime stories and are more versed with Breaking Bad style crime kingpins so this will be an interesting choice in a historical viewpoint. At any rate, this is one awesome flick and should be viewed by all.

 


Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

Tim Burton’s most whimsical movie that manages to meld his typical gothic aesthetic and normal suburban blandness. Johnny Depp wasn’t the superstar he is now and it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen this but as a 12-year-old watching it I totally liked it. A great story even though a character having giant scissors for hands don’t make a lick of sense but that’s part of the uniqueness to his handicap and the story as a whole. Quite curious how this one holds up for today’s youth.

 

 

 


Dick Tracy (1990)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

For some reason the 90s gave us a slew of outdated “superhero” movies of yesteryear like The Phantom, The Shadow and of course Dick Tracy. It’s always odd when something that was popular many decades ago makes a big splash at the box office and it was weird that Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy even worked in 1990. This leads me to believe that it could still captivate kids’ interest 30 years later than that still. And why not, it looks the most like an old comic book with it’s bold colors and shot framing. The acting is great, even from Madonna. It’s a rather childlike take on gangster violence that doesn’t really condescend to anyone. This could still be a lot of fun.

 

 


Ghost (1990)

Age appropriate: 10-ish

Why not Ghost?! Sure it’s an adult-themed love story about a dead guy haunting his girlfriend and trying to solve his own murder. What’s not to love? And it has a ton of great humor in it as well from Whoopi Goldberg, who won an Oscar for her role as the hack-medium who Patrick Swayze uses as a contact. I think this is a great choice for kids who want to feel like they’re watching a more ‘adult-themed’ movie that is still enjoyable to watch.

 

 

 


Home Alone (1990)

Age appropriate: 5-ish

This one is a no-brainer really. Still cute and funny thanks to the charming performance from Macaulay Culkin. It’s a great new addition to the pantheon of Holiday movies for the new generation of kids. I watched it last year with my kids and they really enjoyed it. The sequel, not so much but even that one still has its moments. While this does cater more to a younger audience anyway, it still warms the 40-something’s heart as well.

 

 


Tremors (1990)

Age appropriante: 10-ish

This is basically Jaws with giant carnivorous sand worms and an homage to the old style monster movies and it totally rocks. Fun and scary, I remember loving this flick as a kid. It’s been decades since I’ve seen it but the impression I had of it still lasts as a great kid-friendly horror movie that will a delight for the whole family. Pure popcorn flick greatness. I recently recommended this to an 11-year-old and he absolutely loved it so no doubt it still holds up. Highly recommended!

 

 

 


The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Age appropriate: 13-ish

You probably think I’m totally off my rocker with this choice but hear me out. Before I saw this movie (and I was younger than 13 mind you), my idea of horror was all slashers and mutated monsters. I don’t think I saw a horror movie that featured a human serial killer and police procedurals to capture him. This movie opened my eyes to real human horror and psychological thriller trauma. After this, I was hooked with movies like Hitchcock’s Psycho and Stephen King’s Misery. And let’s not forget how culturally and artistically important this movie actually is. It is a best picture winner after all, no small feat for a horror/thriller. This is a bona fide classic and should be passed down to generations.

 


The Addams Family (1991)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

Another safe bet but I like picking these off-kilter, surreal movies that cater to both adults and children that don’t shy away from death, mayhem and the macabre. Plus the Addams Family is timeless as evident in how the franchise has been going for over 80 years! From comic strips, books, TV shows, movies and cartoons why not introduce them to this highly successful Raul Julia vehicle? There was a slew of 60s/70s TV show adaptations in the 90s (The Brady Bunch, Dennis the Menace, and Beverly Hillbillies just to name a few) but not too many can still be relevant and fun to watch still today. (The new animated movie that came out last year was OK, but doesn’t hold a candle to the 90s movies)

 

 


The Rocketeer (1991)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

A truly forgotten gem that has been buried for decades, probably because it was a superhero movie not based on an established superhero from Marvel or DC. A completely original hero with a simple power (rocket pack) but he looked really cool and the movie is actually very well done. I also loved the choice that this was set in the 40s, it gives it an Indiana Jones-like feel. I don’t watch this one too often, and that’s a shame because I’m always surprised at how good it is.

 

 

 


A League of Their Own (1992)

Age appropriate: 10-ish

There’s a great deal amount of baseball movies in the 80s and 90s and while I love them all (Major League, Bull Durham, The Natural), I feel A League of Their Own is the one that should be introduced to our children. And a lot of that is the feminist angle but also the heart put into the story as well as the other choices seem way more “adult” in tone. Also while the other male-dominated baseball movies are great, they mostly center on winning the big game or the mysticism of the game itself. Penny Marshall’s League centers on the struggling for minorities to have a place at the table (or field in this case) and using history as the backdrop is great as well. Plus, it’s drop-dead funny and has great performances and memorable sports scenes.

 


Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Age appropriate: 10-ish

I’m sure if you crunched the numbers you will find that there is a Dracula movie every 3 years on average but what sets Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula apart is how lusty and modern it felt despite it being set over 100 years back. And it was filmed as if it was made 100 years ago. All the effects are practical and some are even done in the mode of early filmmaking effects. While the story is just barely altered from other Dracula adaptations (this one has a somewhat “historical” origin story) it still feels fresh and unique. The only downside to this movie is the acting, mainly from Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves but it’s balanced out by Anthony Hopkins and of course Gary Oldman. Me thinks it would be easier to show kids today this version of Dracula than the others before it.

 


A Few Good Men (1992)

Age appropriate: 13-ish

A masterful film highlighting the writing of Aaron Sorkin, this “court-room drama” has a lot going for it. For one the impeccable performances of its stars, Tom Cruise, Demi Moore and Jack Nicholson. For another it has a great story showing the duality of honor and obedience in the current US military and the gray area it sometimes gets caught in. There’s probably other good court-room dramas of the era (Philadelphia, The Client, and anything else written by John Grisham), I think this one is better at holding younger viewers attention more. (Truth be told, I recently rewatched Philadelphia and it didn’t age well in my opinion)

 

 


Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Age appropriate: 13-ish

There can’t be a must-see list without mentioning Quentin Tarantino. And while Pulp Fiction was a watershed moment in his early career, I think it’s very outdated and frankly, not as compelling a story (or stories). I feel like Reservoir Dogs has better, sharper wit and writing, a more interesting theme and an excellent use of cinematic flashback editing to tell a story. I prefer Reservoir Dogs to Pulp Fiction and I still think this is QT’s best film. Of course this is for more mature audiences that should go without saying.

 

 


Groundhog Day (1993)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

One of the few 90s comedies that stands the test of time and can honestly be called a bona fide classic, Groundhog Day is a delight from start to finish. It feels fresh at the same time as feeling way like it was made decades before the 90s. It feels like a Jimmy Stewart movie to me sometimes. However, the “time” concept being stuck in a perpetual loop was a novel idea and done with comedic as well as dramatic aplomb. And it’s Bill Murray at his finest. Another top ten inclusion for me.

 

 


Jurassic Park (1993)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

Another Spielberg no-brainer. And It’s probably a waste of my time explaining why especially since this is the few franchises still going strong, if not stronger since Jurassic World premiered a few years back. But the original is still a marvel of filmmaking and storytelling that it should be watched by generations. It’s also the only one what can actually scare an audience.

 

 

 


Schindler’s List (1993)

Age appropriate: 13-ish

As a historical drama, this is an important film. If you’ve seen it, I don’t need to explain how this could be a tough choice to show your kids. However, keeping them from it is as easily tough a decision. This film is so powerful that it would feel like a “loss of innocence” to your kids once they watched it. I feel like I would open a Pandora’s box of pain and suffering and hard truth showing this to my kids. But it’s also something that has to be done. It’s hard to believe that to us being born in the 70s that, arguably, the darkest chapter in human history was just 2 generations before our birth. But it’s a sad truth that needs to be addressed and what better film to do it than Spielberg’s magnum opus?

 


Rudy (1993)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

There are inspiration sports movies and then there’s Rudy. I can’t imagine a more well written and acted inspirational sports movie. This movie has a heart and soul that is rarely seen anymore. Do kids today even cry anymore at movies? If they don’t tear up watching Rudy take the field at the end, then they are truly dead inside.    

 

 


The Sandlot (1993)

Age appropriate: 7

A kids baseball movie that is more than just about baseball, The Sandlot is about making friends and having the best days of your lives and the memories to last a lifetime. You know the good-ol’-days when kids actually played outside and not spaced out in front of a computer screen! It’s still a cute movie with exceptional child actors and still surprisingly funny still to this day. Kids of all ages should have fun with this one.

 

 

 

 


Forrest Gump (1994)

Age appropriate: 10-ish

What better film to show kids today about the last half of the twentieth century? It’s been a long time since I last saw Forrest Gump but I think I would hate its schmaltziness and kitschy-ness. Plus the story is kinda weak and it’s humor is mostly corny. I would only want to watch this with my kids to introduce them to historical events and people. BUT that’s just me! This flick is a genuine classic to most of the population. And like I said it’s been a long time since I last saw it and will probably laugh my ass off and cry like a baby. It’ll be interesting to say the least showing this to the kids.

 


Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Age appropriate: 13-ish

I hesitated including this one mainly due to the debate if this movie stands the test of time. Sure, our generation loves this flick with a very good reason—it is a great movie but is it “pass-it-down-a-generation” great? I’m not 100% sure and it’s definitely a wild card for me. Many people don’t remember this but this was a box office flop when it was released and didn’t get its proper due until it went to home video and was shown 20 times a year on TNT. However, the acting is fantastic and the subject matter is unique and new to younger eyes. I’m sure by 10 or so, kids won’t have seen too many prison flicks. 

 


The Professional (aka Léon) (1994)

Age appropriate: 13-ish

There was a new wave of crime thriller dramas in Pulp Fiction‘s wake and most were pretty good (like True Romance) but my personal favorite is The Professional. The style of the film is done beautifully. The acting is fantastic (Natalie Portman’s debut) and the heart-warming story of a hitman taking care of a needy child is a compelling one. It’s not an original premise, granted (Lone Wolf and Cub to even today’s The Mandalorian) but this is still a rock solid cool crime thriller. And Gary Oldman’s crazy DEA agent performance is top notch. This, like Reservoir Dogs, is for more mature-minded kids but it’s not gratuitous in its violence and feels more like a European arthouse film.


Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion to this list!

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

  1. Oh man, I recently watched The Irishman (took three separate sessions to get through it) and what a disappointing piece of crap it was! I wished I’d just watched Goodfellas again instead. Would have got through it all in one sitting and actually enjoyed the time spent.

    Liked by 1 person

      • It was so absurd seeing DeNiro in his 70’s playing someone in his 30’s, especially when he “beat up” that shopkeep. That scene was so badly shot. And if the movie is about an Irish guy why would you cast the most Italian actor ever and give him CGI blue eyes?? The whole thing was a hamfisted debacle.

        Liked by 2 people

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