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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 03/27/2006

'80s Teen Movies: The List

By Liz Kelly

Thanks to everyone for weighing in on the '80s teen movies thread from last week. At the end of this post I'll include an alphabetical list of all the movies mentioned in the comments thread. Plenty of goodness here to fill up my niece's Netflix account (and my own).

Matthew Broderick as "Ferris Bueller." (Paramount Pictures)

The fundamental question about whether or not the movies were better hasn't been definitively answered, but we did get a lot of food for thought.

JenaeMB thinks movies, and performances, were better back in the day:

Remember the first time you saw "The Outsiders" (or even the last time) and how great Matt Dillon's portrayal of Dallas was. After that, think of his performance in "Crash". Now think of Linday Lohan in whatever she's starred in (the Parent Trap not included) and imagine her being nominated for an Oscar in 25 years. Can't do it can you?

Kara concurs:

I kinda agree with the innocence argument. If you compare "Some Kind of Wonderful" and "Breakfast Club" to "Mean Girls," there's a certain essence that doesn't exist now. "Garden State" comes close, but Zack Braff is of the '80's teen generation. I guess that's what I thought was the whole point of teen years, I guess.

On the other side of the equation, AL argues that we may be guilty of engaging in a little "greatest generation" hand-wringing:

I hate to aks this, but is it possible that we're just old and nostalgic? "Dirty Dancing" and "Footloose" as great movies? I love 'em as much as the next guy, but "Nobody puts Baby in a corner," is certainly not great dialogue, and that scene with Kevin Bacon doing gymnastics and dancing in the warehouse is awful. There are some decent teen movies being made right now, they're just not the overhyped drivel that is generally being produced. "Saved" (from 2004) stands up to all of those movies.

Chris, too, thinks the current:

As much as I loved '80's teen movies (especially "Can't Buy Me Love," which literally made me scared to even start high school), they were just so ham-fisted and such the characters were mostly just crude stereotypes. Honestly, I really don't see how they are that much better than "Mean Girls" and the like.

We'll just have to agree to disagree on this one, I guess. Meanwhile, hooray for good teen movies, no matter the year.

The list follows after the jump...

The by-no-means definitive list of '80s teen movies (64 in all):

Breakfast Club
Can't Buy Me Love
Cherry 2000
Dead Poets Society
Dirty Dancing
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Flight of the Navigator
Friday the 13th
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Just One of the Guys
Karate Kid
Less Than Zero
License to Drive
Light of Day
Lost Boys
My Bodyguard
My Science Project
Night of the Comet
Nightmare on Elm Street
One Crazy Summer
Oxford Blues
Permanent Record
Pretty in Pink
Princess Bride
Pump Up the Volume
Real Genius
Red Dawn
Repo Man
Revenge of the Nerds
Risky Business
River's Edge
Rumble Fish
Say Anything
Some Kind of Wonderful
Space Camp
St. Elmo's Fire
Stand and Deliver
Stand By Me
Sure Thing
The Last Starfighter
The Outsiders
The Sure Thing
Valley Girl
War Games
Weird Science
Young Guns

By Liz Kelly  | March 27, 2006; 10:43 AM ET
Categories:  Miscellaneous  
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I just wanted to say I love Saved. It has been my favorite movie for the past year and a half or so, knocking Donnie Darko to the number 2 slot.

I think it will definitely stand the test of time too. No matter how many times I see it, whenever Tia says, "You mean like shoot her", I can't help but laugh. Same thing goes for "Come on, I'm like totally adorable". The movie is full of nuances that make it great, as well as great deliveries of the lines.

Posted by: Rob | March 27, 2006 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad Night of the Comet and The Last Starfighter made the list. I would add Streets of Fire. Mindless entertainment, yes, but I love the music and the interesting casting (Rick Moranis and Amy Madigan for starters).

Posted by: Jeff | March 27, 2006 7:38 PM | Report abuse

the legend of billie jean
fright night (a cool pencil through the hand scene)

Posted by: helen slater | March 27, 2006 11:28 PM | Report abuse

What about 16 Candles? Anthony Michael Hall talking Molly Ringwald out of her panties so he could show them to his friends? Classic! I also like Val Kilmer in Real Genius. That movie was great along similar lines to War Games (a very apropos movie that was ahead of its time in its own right). The irony of Real Genius is that the fast forward 20 years, the Air Force had a technology break through in real life that sort of mimics the plot of this film (for what its worth, you gotta love Reagan and the Starwars paranoia that he inspired at the time).

Posted by: 94aggie | March 28, 2006 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Arrrgh! No list is complete without "Better Off Dead," one of the first John Cusack vehicles. Who can forget the immortal line, "Buck up, little camper!"

Posted by: atrober | March 28, 2006 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Gotta add Labrynth and The Hunger for the old goth kids.

Posted by: Bad Kitty | March 28, 2006 10:08 AM | Report abuse

um.... RIVER'S EDGE?????? Or is it DQ'd becauseit's a real film?!?!?

Posted by: Feck | March 29, 2006 3:03 PM | Report abuse

um.... RIVER'S EDGE?????? Or is it DQ'd because it's a real film?!?!?

Posted by: Feck | March 29, 2006 3:03 PM | Report abuse

um.... RIVER'S EDGE?????? Or is it DQ'd because it's a real film?!?!?

Posted by: Feck | March 29, 2006 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I agree!!! River's Edge indeed deserves to be on this list! Ione Sky, Crispin Glover, Keanu Reeves, along with Dennis Hopper made for a great and realistic movie depicting life in that era as a teen!

Posted by: Deebo | March 29, 2006 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for pointing out "Better off Dead." If you're going to include "One Crazy Summer," you can't leave off BOD.

Posted by: Ashley | March 29, 2006 7:32 PM | Report abuse

River's Edge actually is on the list already -- right between Risky Business and Rumble Fish. But keep suggestions coming if anything else is missing. We'll keep at it till we get it right.

Posted by: Liz | March 29, 2006 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Okay, Feck, calm down.

My favorite line in "Saved": (Mandy Moore, angrily, as she chucks the Bible at Jena Malone):

I am FILLED with Christ's Love!!

And I gotta stick up for Lindsay Lohan--yes, her off-camera behavior is questionable (for which I lay a lot of blame at her parents). But she is a talented actress--she got great reviews in "Mean Girls" and "Confessions..." and she's terrific in "The Parent Trap." She is considered a decent actress in the industry, just nuts personally.

Posted by: Cee | March 30, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I agree about Sixteen Candles . . . you need that on your list. What about Back to the Future and Soul Man?

Posted by: Bek | March 31, 2006 5:46 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree, as being from the class of '88, that no list like this is complete without:
- better off dead
- sixteen candles
- real genius

I still don't get tired of watching those movies. "I want my two dollars!"

Posted by: jason | July 12, 2006 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Glad you remembered "Heathers," "Lucas," and "Some Kind of Wonderful" but not having "Better off Dead" and "Sixteen Candles" on there seriously damages your cred. Some more to consider are "Heaven Help Us" and "Letter to Brezhnev" - both funny, thoughtful and poignant portraits of teen (or slightly post-teen) life in times past.

Posted by: Jerome | July 12, 2006 4:10 PM | Report abuse

That's right..."I WANT MY TWO DOLLORS"

Posted by: Christopher | July 12, 2006 5:05 PM | Report abuse


The Last American Virgin

and now the list is complete!

Posted by: Veronica | July 13, 2006 12:26 PM | Report abuse

As other's pointed out the lacking River's Edge and Heathers, I just recently showed my 14-year old Sixteen Candles, guess what, it holds up! My daughter loved it and had it on a replay cycle for a few weeks before it got bumped out by another "current" flick. She is now going through my collection of classics, a lot of which made your list and watching them and enjoying them. She also liked Mean Girls, but says it doesn't hold a candle to the innocence portrayed in the earlier movies.

Something has been lost over the intervening 20+ years and it is called childhood unfortunately, as kids are expected to be small adults (or adult teens) nowadays and no longer get the lazy summers to while away the time, but that is yet another argument for a different topic. My two cents after taxes....

Posted by: lost in the 80s | July 13, 2006 2:15 PM | Report abuse

i love how you have the movie clueless it is wonderful like it started a new generation of teens i'm glad it's on the list

Posted by: DUCKIE | August 31, 2006 11:01 PM | Report abuse

What about Adventures in Babysitting?

Posted by: Sharise | August 16, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

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