You grew up in the 80s/90s. You watched movies. Some of them were good!
March 1, 2016 1:15 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for '80s/'90s young adult type movies that you've seen and would recommend. Nothing too childish or overly sappy, please.

Examples: Goonies - obvious classic. Watched Heavy Weights for the first time as an adult - admittedly dumb yet loved it. DARYL - remember loving this sci-fi-ish movie as a kid & plan on rewatching it soon. Lassie (1994) - loved this movie as a kid because of the modern teenage problems spin on it.

Preferably want to avoid sports (the unlikely team of misfits made the winning shot!)/amazing animal themes but they're ok if you think it's a worthwhile suggestion!
posted by atinna to Media & Arts (73 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
PeeWee's Big Adventure


The Sandlot (sports-related, but a classic)
posted by shortyJBot at 1:16 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Breakfast Club
posted by primethyme at 1:17 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

All of the John Huges cannon.
posted by goggie at 1:18 PM on March 1, 2016 [9 favorites]

Trying to avoid Sports, but pretty much every one that came out in the early 90s fits the category well.

As for the non-sports:

Honey I Shrunk the Kids
Harriet the Spy
posted by chillin411 at 1:20 PM on March 1, 2016

10 Things I Hate About You
Empire Records

I'm not sure entirely on genre... Dazed and Confused was great, but if you are showing this to a classroom of kids, not so great. American History X is phenomenal, but again, if this is a classroom of kids, nope.
posted by jillithd at 1:20 PM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

Back. To. The. Future.
posted by General Malaise at 1:21 PM on March 1, 2016 [9 favorites]

Real Genius with Val Kilmer
The Neverending Story
Labyrinth with David Bowie
Dark Crystal
posted by dotgirl at 1:21 PM on March 1, 2016 [12 favorites]

Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Grease 2
Dirty Dancing
posted by jillithd at 1:21 PM on March 1, 2016

Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- before the TV show there was a movie with Kristy Swanson, Luke Perry, David Arquette, Paul Reubens (Pee Wee Herman), Rutger Hauer, Hilary Swank and Donald Sutherland! And it was great! For certain definitions of great anyway...
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:22 PM on March 1, 2016 [7 favorites]

War Games.
posted by jeffamaphone at 1:26 PM on March 1, 2016 [20 favorites]

Hunt for Red October if you can get over Sean Connery.

Princess Bride. Clue. Big.

I've watched these as an adult (recently!) and they're all re-watchable.
posted by fiercekitten at 1:30 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure!
posted by praemunire at 1:30 PM on March 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

Better Off Dead. A sport is involved, but really as a send-up of the
"plucky misfit(s) beat(s) the snob(s) at their own game" trope that was so
ubiquitous at the time.
posted by Nerd of the North at 1:32 PM on March 1, 2016 [10 favorites]


Night of the Comet.

Flight of the Navigator.

Neverending Story.
posted by kythuen at 1:39 PM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

posted by Hypatia at 1:44 PM on March 1, 2016 [5 favorites]

Flight of the Navigator for sure.

Willow! Not exactly young adult, but extremely 12-year-old friendly in terms insofar as it is ROLLICKING ADVENTURE.
posted by Sokka shot first at 1:45 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Are you asking for movies aimed at young adults? Featuring kids coming of age? Or just movies to show to young adults?

Based on your list:



War Games

A little older, but Meatballs
posted by Mchelly at 1:47 PM on March 1, 2016

I'm not sure if this qualifies as "young adult," but I certainly saw it when I was a young adult: Empire of the Sun.
posted by megancita at 1:48 PM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

St. Elmo's Fire is the eighties.
posted by srboisvert at 1:49 PM on March 1, 2016

My sister always like "Adventures in Babysitting", and that's what I think of when I think of movies from my childhood.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:51 PM on March 1, 2016 [12 favorites]

Time Bandits.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
Enemy Mine.
The Last Starfighter.
posted by Lou Stuells at 2:04 PM on March 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

The Lost Boys (Rated R, but I loved it as an 80's kid...)
The Last Starfighter
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 2:04 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead
posted by chiefthe at 2:06 PM on March 1, 2016 [7 favorites]

I can't believe no one has mentioned Stand By Me yet.
posted by Jubey at 2:09 PM on March 1, 2016 [17 favorites]

Do you mean movies for kids or do you mean movies for young adults? If you mean the latter, I'd say:

Repo Man
River's Edge
posted by escabeche at 2:10 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

posted by dnash at 2:10 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Terminator and Terminator 2.

Howard the Duck.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
posted by kythuen at 2:12 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Romy And Michelle's High School Reunion
Boyz N The Hood
The Craft
Cruel intentions
Romeo + Juliet
Girl, Interrupted
The Basketball Diaries
Mr. Holland's Opus
A River Runs Through It
The Cider House Rules
Now And Then
posted by katyggls at 2:12 PM on March 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

Can't Buy Me Love.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:21 PM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

As a teen in the late 80s, I particularly enjoyed:

Beverly Hills Cop
Beverly Hills Cop II
The Lost Boys
Dirty Dancing
Coming to America
Jumpin' Jack Flash
Crocodile Dundee
Real Genius

I also absolutely adored the original TV version of 21 Jump Street (with Johnny Depp et al.)
posted by sueinnyc at 2:23 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Rumble Fish, The Outsiders, and pretty much anything Brat Pack-ish would fit your bill.
posted by merocet at 2:25 PM on March 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

The Pick Up Artist
posted by Michele in California at 2:40 PM on March 1, 2016

Edward Scissorhands
Say Anything
Man in the Moon
posted by EvaDestruction at 2:45 PM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

When I think 90s and youth angst I think of:
Reality Bites
Pump Up the Volume
posted by yarrow at 3:01 PM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

John Hughes epitomized the 80s. Breakfast Club is my favorite, but shout out to Sixteen Candles, Weird Science and Pretty in Pink too.
I second Stand By Me. Also for your consideration:
Real Genius (basically any early Val Kilmer will fit. Same with Molly Ringwald and Winona Ryder)
Top Gun and Dirty Dancing obvs
The Revenge of the Nerds canon
Police Academy
Naked Gun
Teen Wolf
Young Guns
Back to School
Three Amigos
Roxanne - lots of Steve Martin flicks from then feel very 90s to me.
Oh and then there's Hanks with Mermaid, Turner and Hooch, Bachelor Party, etc. And what about all the Meg Ryan rom coms? Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally! Meg's hair inspired my childhood and teen years.
posted by areaperson at 3:12 PM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Raising Arizona! We watched it every weekend.
posted by mochapickle at 3:14 PM on March 1, 2016

Oh I'm annoyed with myself for forgetting Ghostbusters. Ghostbusters of course! Stripes was pretty big in my household too - in fact, all John Candy will fit the bill: Uncle Buck, Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Finally, we were peak Costner in the late 80s and 90s. Field of Dreams, Dances with Wolves. The Costner Robin Hood movie was popular with my young adult friends. Thanks for the memories!
posted by areaperson at 3:23 PM on March 1, 2016 [5 favorites]

Buckaroo Banzai.
posted by drlith at 3:38 PM on March 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

Valley Girl
posted by gudrun at 3:51 PM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

Spinal Tap for an older kid?
Summer School
posted by Room 641-A at 3:56 PM on March 1, 2016

One Crazy Summer
Iron Eagle
posted by Pryde at 3:57 PM on March 1, 2016

Coming back to say Airborne, which was awful but I watched it so much that I have fond memories.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:20 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Labyrinth, Roxanne, Time Bandits, Galipoli (for older kids), Blade Runner, 9 to 5, Ghostbusters, Princess Bride.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 4:22 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Back to the Future is an obvious choice (so fun!), but Michael J Fox also starred in the highly entertaining The Secret of my Success.

Pretty in Pink
La Bamba
Top Gun
Dirty Dancing
Can't Buy Me Love
Dead Poets Society
Stand By Me
posted by yawper at 4:25 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Manhattan Project - a nuclear thriller with teens as the protagonists - is very much in the same vein as WarGames and I think it's just as good.

Top Secret! is the absolute best goofy ZAZ film, though some of the references may be a little perplexing for a young adult today.

Time Bandits
Raising Arizona
posted by theory at 4:26 PM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

Breakin! You'll never look at a broom the same again (in a good way).
posted by cashman at 5:08 PM on March 1, 2016

The whole Back to the Future trilogy.
posted by John Cohen at 5:23 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Black Stallion is just beautifully shot, as is The Secret Garden. Both are G rated, but I don't consider either to be "kid" movies.
posted by veery at 5:28 PM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

nthing Real Genius, if you're looking for a smart comedy. It's not only one of the best '80s movies for young adults, it's one of my top 5 favorite movies, full stop. Relevant FPP.
posted by duffell at 5:42 PM on March 1, 2016

My Bodyguard
posted by chazlarson at 5:45 PM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

The Sure Thing. Which I suppose means I have to also say Say Anything, but I liked The Sure Thing a lot better.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 6:51 PM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Baghdad Cafe
Milagro Beanfield War
Dirty Dancing
Adventures of Baron Munchhausen
Top Gun
Mr Holland's Opus
Don't Tell Her It's Me

nthing Night of the Comet

I'd say The Hunger, but that's rather more overtly adult.
posted by rw at 9:13 PM on March 1, 2016

Sorry - should be Bagdad Cafe - I love that movie

Fifth Element
Electric Dreams
Soap (pre Ironman for sure -- haha)
posted by rw at 9:21 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fwiw, there are some troubling stereotypes in "Sixteen Candles", which kind of pains me, since I loved it so much growing up.
posted by persona au gratin at 12:59 AM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

When I was a young adult I wanted to see some nice, goofy horror-flicks. Stuff like "Critters" or "The Gate". This lead me to the slasher films of the same era like "Halloween" and "The Nightmare on Elm Street" (Jason never interested me much, so I skipped on "Friday the 13th").

In almost the same nightmarish vein, I have to mention "The Secret of NIMH" and "Watership Down".
posted by KMB at 1:24 AM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Clue, Legend, Labyrinth, Better off Dead, Silver Bullet (GARY BUSEY!).

...but in my opinion you only need one movie from the 80s: Clue. And just watch it a million times like I did/do.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 5:25 AM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

So much as been mentioned already but:
Monster Squad (Is amazing, and holds up like no one's business).
Explorers (the first half rocks)
Red Dawn (the original).

And, well, there is movie called Cloak And Dagger I watched the same night as DARYL back in the day, and while I recall nothing of it, I need to mention it.

Gremlins II.
The Thing
Escape From LA/New York
Big Trouble In Little China
The Faculty
The Crow

Tank Girl
Johnny Mnemonic
Private Benjamin

And, while you mention Y/A, I would flag at least the first Nightmare on Elm Street film, Friday the 13th Part 7, Halloween Part 4, and some T&A movies (a Porkies, Revenge of the Nerds, that one with Johnny Depp that is called Hotel Something, and a terrible one with OJ's chum, Kato Kaelin, which might have been called Beach Fever, because you might want to see how terrible T&A movies were.

I saw all of these as a 15yo or younger, but maybe they don't fit.

The Apple
posted by Mezentian at 6:04 AM on March 2, 2016

Not sure if all of these really qualify specifically as YA, but they're certainly films I enjoyed as a child/teenager (born in 1981):

The Full Monty
Withnail & I
Truly, Madly, Deeply
Four Weddings and a Funeral
East is East
Plunkett & Macleane
The Madness of King George
Shakespeare in Love
The Addams Family
Addams Family Values
The Piano
Sliding Doors
Heavenly Creatures
The Krays
Brassed Off
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead
A Fish Called Wanda
Gregory's Girl
The English Patient
Peter's Friends
American Beauty

posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 6:06 AM on March 2, 2016

'Pretty in Pink' is at the top of my suggestion list; not only is it really good, but it also delivers a portion of Harry Dean Stanton.

My all-time YA favorite comes in a little earlier, but 'Harold and Maude' (1971) is hard to beat.
posted by mr. digits at 6:14 AM on March 2, 2016

Death Becomes Her
The Cutting Edge
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:32 AM on March 2, 2016

Just popped in to say Clue again. Clue.

posted by Dressed to Kill at 8:30 AM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I recently watched White Water Summer and found it to be charming if also a bit hokey. But good performances from a young Kevin Bacon and a very young Sean Astin, finding and proving himself off in the woods. Beautiful scenery and a Bruce Hornsby-laden soundtrack turned my thumb up.

Also, I'll second Adventures in Babysitting, such a classic Chicago movie.
posted by fatedblue at 8:43 AM on March 2, 2016

Late '90s brings us into Matrix/Phantom Menace range.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:43 AM on March 2, 2016

Drop Dead Fred
Encino Man
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
(seconding Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead)

so many good movies in this thread!
posted by serenity_now at 11:28 AM on March 2, 2016

I can't believe I forgot to say Ladyhawke!!!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 1:07 PM on March 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

Dogs in Space. I saw it five times in the theater when I was in high school. Maybe too dark for you, though, if you're thinking of Lassie -- it has sex 'n' death 'n' lots of drugs.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:59 PM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

"Tapeheads." Actually, anything with John Cusack except for the awful "One Crazy Summer."
posted by wenestvedt at 7:42 PM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Karate Kid.
posted by Pryde at 9:03 PM on March 2, 2016

The always-underrated (and R-rated) "My Chauffeur" (1986), which we watched a bunch of times, and also "So I Married an Axe Murderer" (1993).
posted by wenestvedt at 5:28 AM on March 3, 2016

"Top Secret," which is good Val Kilmer and which permits me to say "I know a little German! (And there he is.)" with a big smile whenever the phone rings.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:31 AM on March 3, 2016

Arachnophobia - it's PG-13 but it's 1990s PG-13 not like now. Also, not for people with arachnophobia.
posted by fiercekitten at 2:52 PM on March 3, 2016

The live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies!
posted by jillithd at 6:45 AM on March 7, 2016

« Older How many murders did Jessica Fletcher solve?   |   I feel sexually harassed at work. Am I? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.