This Post: 30 BEST Iconic 80s Movies to Watch With Your Teen

Written By: Marybeth Bock

Can we ALL agree that the 80s generated some pretty spectacular (or should I say “rad”) movies? Many of them are SO iconic that they’ve withstood the test of time. 

The absolute best 80s classics are a fun mix of humor, adventure, and coming-of-age themes that not only stir up memories for us parents but resonate with our teenagers. Sure, our kids might get a kick out of the dated special effects, the fact that we wore our hair that big or dressed like Molly Ringwald. And, we all know the humor was a tad hokey, but the messages they conveyed are so worth taking the time to watch.

So, grab the snacks and a cozy blanket and hunker down with your teen for a fun, memorable, and entertaining night that’s quite literally a blast from the past! 

*A few of these films were rated R in the 80s so they seem tamer today but be sure to check out parental guidelines before watching.

30 BEST Iconic 80s Movies to Watch with Your Teen

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1. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982/PG)

If you haven’t watched this classic 80s movie since you were a kid, you’ll probably like it even more now that you’re a parent. There’s nothing as sweet as the friendship that develops between the character Elliot and the adorable alien, E.T. Have your tissues handy!

Watch the trailer HERE

 

2. Back to the Future (1985/PG)

One of the most enjoyable time-traveling movies ever, this one made Michael J. Fox a superstar. Teens today will get a great feel for what it was like being a teen in the 1980s and the 1950s. Great acting and great music make this one a true classic. Don’t miss Back to the Future 2 and 3! 

Watch the trailer HERE

 

3. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986/PG-13)

Every teenager knows someone like Ferris Bueller and that’s what makes this movie so fun. The dialogue in this film was so popular that it’s been printed on merchandise and recited so often by true fans that your teen might already know some of it – because of you! “Bueller? Anyone? Anyone?

Watch the trailer HERE

 

4. Top Gun (1986/PG)

The “Top Gun” sequel in the summer of 2022 was a huge hit, but if your teen has never seen the original movie, it’s definitely time to watch it with them. Much of this movie feels like a music video and the aerial fight scenes are fantastic. 

Watch the trailer HERE

 

5. Say Anything (1989 PG-13)

Is there anything more iconic than John Cusack lifting his stereo over his head? This classic 80s movie is a heartwarming and fun story about a guy who yearns for a brainy and beautiful girl. Will he win her heart? This movie is a must-watch!

Watch the trailer HERE

 

6. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981/PG)

This classic film introduced the world to archaeologist-adventurer Indiana Jones and set off a franchise of sequels. Your teen needs to see how it all started and watch why so many people think this flick is the greatest action movie of all time. 

Watch the trailer HERE

 

7. The Princess Bride (1987/PG)

Don’t let the title of this movie scare your teenagers away if they’ve never seen it. It’s truly a magical mix of romance, fantasy, action, and comedy that’s an enormously entertaining film for movie watchers of all ages. I bet your teen will enjoy this one!

Watch the trailer HERE

 

8. Ghostbusters (1984/PG)

A movie that everyone seems to love even after all these years, and your teen will love it, too. It has an awesome cast, fun special effects, hilarious dialogue (especially Bill Murray’s ad-libs), and a great soundtrack. This is one movie your teen will want to watch again and again.

Watch the trailer HERE

 

9. The Breakfast Club (1985/R)

Probably the best of the “Brat Pack” films of the 80s, every teen can relate to these characters, whether they’ve felt the same emotions, or have dealt with classmates like them. Writer/director John Hughes brilliantly captures the 1980s high school environment and all the social cliques that teenagers create for themselves while in school – even today. 

Watch the trailer HERE

 

10. The Karate Kid (1984/PG)

This is such a wonderful feel-good movie, so if you ever have a teen who’s feeling down or is dealing with a bullying situation, sit down with them and watch this one together. It’s a triumph over adversity story, and you know it’s good because of all the sequels and remakes it spawned!

Watch the trailer HERE

 

11. Die Hard (1988/R)

This original Die Hard movie is credited as the best of the Die Hard movies and one of the best action-thriller movies of all time. It’s the ultimate combination of intense action, crime, witty dialogue, and Christmas, but is super fun to watch at any time of the year. 

Watch the trailer HERE

 

12. Big (1988/PG)

What kid hasn’t ever wondered what it would be like to be big? We can all relate to the themes in this movie, and even teenagers will find it charming and funny. Tom Hanks does an amazing job acting like he’s actually a small boy in the body of an adult.

Watch the trailer HERE

 

13. Footloose (1984/PG)

Your teen will love this for the dancing and the music! Chicago teen Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) moves to a small, southwestern town whose preacher has banned dancing and rock music. Ren inspires the preacher’s daughter and others to challenge the town’s repressive bans and hold a senior prom. And, somewhere along the way, love blossoms!

Watch the trailer HERE

 

14. Beetlejuice (1988/PG)

This is such a fun movie that has become a cult classic – definitely one your teen needs to see if they’ve never watched it. Beetlejuice is a dark comedy that explores life after death, turning into a ghost and having to accept that you died. Micheal Keaton perfectly plays a ghost who’s just not ready to accept that.

Watch the trailer HERE

 

15. Stand By Me (1986/R)

A movie that every teen and adult can relate to, as we’ve all had close friends and have faced intense experiences together. This film looks at the special bond that forms between friends and how they never forget each other, even if they lose touch. The young actors in this movie are spectacular. 

Watch the trailer HERE

 

16. Airplane (1980/PG)

When family life with your teenager gets a little too stressful, sit down with them and watch this – the ultimate silly spoof movie. The script is brilliant and super funny with very accurate spoofs and deliberate cringe-inducing puns that will keep you all laughing the entire length of the movie. 

Watch the trailer HERE

 

17. The Empire Strikes Back (1980/PG)

Many Star Wars fans say that this is the best sequel to the original, and it’s the one where we’re introduced to the great Jedi master Yoda. The movie maintains all the fun of its predecessor while being even darker and more mature. It also has stunning special effects and highly creative-looking sets.

Watch the trailer HERE

 

18. Uncle Buck (1989/R)

Uncle Buck is another iconic 80s movie to watch with your teen. When Cindy and her husband, Bob, have to leave town for a family emergency, there is only one person available to babysit for their three kids – Bob’s lazy, unemployed brother, Buck. While he immediately gets along with the two younger kids, Buck must change his bachelor lifestyle if he wants to be a responsible caregiver for the angst-filled teenager, Tia.

Watch the trailer HERE

 

19. Who Frames Roger Rabbit (1988/PG)

This movie was groundbreaking when released, containing the first interactions between live and animated characters. It’s also the first (and only, as of 2023) time cartoon characters from Disney and Warner Bros. have appeared together on-screen. It’s a comedy and a murder mystery and is fun for the whole family. 

Watch the trailer HERE

 

20. The Outsiders (1983/PG)

Your teen won’t want to miss this classic directed by Francis Ford Coppola with an all-star (heartthrob) cast including, Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, and others! Set in the ’60s, the movie carries you through the struggles, hardship, and brotherhood of teen boys trying to fit in and find their way. 

Watch the trailer HERE

 

21. Sixteen Candles (1984/PG)

Another classic from John Hughes that focuses on teen angst in the 80s. It’s a goofy movie with memorable characters and a few lines that haven’t aged well, but that makes it the perfect film to watch with your teenager today. While watching, it’s fun to talk about how some things have changed, yet other things about being a teenager haven’t changed one bit.

Watch the trailer HERE

 

22. The Lost Boys (1987/R)

When your teen is in the mood for vampires, this is a cult classic of the genre. It’s a very fun mix of horror, action, and comedy. The movie is silly, cheesy, and chock full of examples of 1980s teenage hair, clothes, music, and attitude. 

Watch the trailer HERE

 

23. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983/R)

The Griswold family’s cross-country drive to the Walley World theme park proves to be much more complicated than they ever anticipated. This movie is a hilarious classic you just want to see again and again. 

Watch the trailer HERE

 

24. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989/PG-13)

It’s always a joy to watch this movie and if your teen hasn’t seen this installment of the series, it’s a must-watch. There’s action and comedy and such fantastic chemistry between Sean Connery and Harrison Ford as the famous father/son duo. And it has one of the most exciting chase scenes of all time.

Watch the trailer HERE

 

25. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982/R)

This is a movie that will have your kids asking, “Was high school really like this?” The movie centers around a group of Southern California high school students who are enjoying their most important subjects: sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll.

Watch the trailer HERE

 

26. Dirty Dancing (1987 PG-13)

“Nobody puts Baby in the corner!” It’s the classic romance between a young teenybopper and a hunky dance instructor at a resort in the summer of 1963. You’ll have the time of your life! Co-stars Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey have tons of chemistry and their dancing will have you mesmerized. 

Watch the trailer HERE

 

27. Mystic Pizza (1988 R)

Three teenage girls learn about life and love while working as waitresses at a pizza parlor in the Connecticut town of Mystic. A classic movie that stars a young and charismatic Julie Roberts. This movie is another must-see!

Watch the trailer HERE

 

28. The Goonies (1985/PG)

Everyone loves a movie about a group of misfit kids who find themselves on the adventure of a lifetime. It’s a classic theme and this take on it is outstanding. The characters are wonderful, the script is funny, the music is incredibly memorable, and the special effects were quite good for 1985. 

Watch the trailer HERE

 

29. Dead Poet’s Society (1989/PG)

There’s so much to love about this movie and it’s so relatable for teenagers. Robin Williams, as a teacher we all wish we’d had, gave one of the best performances of his life, and all of the teen and young adult actors are great as well. Truly a movie you can watch over and over again and glean something new every time. 

Watch the trailer HERE

 

30. Adventures in Babysitting (1987 PG-13)

Any teenager who’s ever had a babysitting fiasco will particularly enjoy this movie. It’s another classic teen movie from the 80s that has a good soundtrack, a fun story, and memorable characters. If your teen is in a bad mood, watching this sweet movie will definitely make them giggle.

Watch the trailer HERE

 

About Marybeth Bock:

Marybeth Bock, MPH, is a Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor, and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing – as long as iced coffee is involved. Her work can be found on numerous websites and in two books. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

 

If you enjoyed,30 BEST Iconic 80s Movies to Watch with Your Teen,” check out these other posts!

75 All-Time BEST Sports Movies for Teenagers

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25 Classic Must-See Movies to Watch With Your Teen

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