Be prepared to answer, “Yes, we all thought that hairstyle looked cool.”

By Sharon Boone
Updated January 16, 2018
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You kids may roll their eyes when you wax nostalgic about the movies you loved in the ’80s, but the days of bi-level haircuts, designer jeans, and skinny ties were a golden age for teen movies. Here are 7 flicks you should download and watch with your kids.

Gracie Films

1

This tale of an unlikely romance between a regular guy/aspiring kick-boxer (John Cusack) and the paragon of perfection class valedictorian (Ione Skye) is perhaps the greatest high school rom-com ever made. It’s also a testament to the importance of being decent, honest and honorable.

Available on amazon.com.

American Playhouse

2

The inspirational true story of a dedicated teacher (Edward James Olmos) who opens up a well of untapped potential in his at-risk students via the magic of math. A must-see for any kid even contemplating taking the AP calculus exam.

Available on amazon.com.

Paramount Pictures

3

Should working-class high school senior Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) have fallen for her blue-collar bestie Duckie (Jon Cryer) or rich kid Blane (Andrew McCarthy)? The fact that we’ve been debating this plot point since the film premiered more than two decades ago shows how deeply felt this movie remains. It’s class struggle with a killer soundtrack.

Available on amazon.com.

Cannon Films

4

This nerd-crushes-on-popular-girl tale could have gone the typical teenage sex comedy route. Instead, the script takes the heartache of unrequited teen romance, including sex and all its consequences, seriously. The gut-punch of an ending might be the most realistic in any teen drama ever.

Available on amazon.com

Universal Pictures

5

When five kids from different walks of life (including Brat Packers Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, and Emilio Estevez) are forced to spend an afternoon together serving detention, they discover that, despite their outward differences, they have a lot more in common than they thought. Equally generous to every character, this film quickly moves past stereotypes and teaches the importance and looking beyond the surface when judging someone’s character.

Available on amazon.com.

New World Pictures

6

Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) discovers that leaving the popular clique to return to her loser friends isn’t easy. (Un)luckily, new kid J.D. (Christian Slater) has just the plan. The humor is black and the violence shocking, but the whip-smart script and performances make this biting look at cliques, mean girls, outcasts, and teen suicide a classic.

Available on amazon.com.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

7

This no-holds-barred peek inside a performing arts high school over the course of four years has thrilling musical numbers (“We’re gonna live forever!”), mixed with heartbreaking tales of growing up in the inner city. A reality check for any teen interested in going into a creative field. As the school’s dance instructor (Debbie Allen) warns, “Fame costs and this is where you start paying, in sweat.” Warning: This gritty, R-rated film is only for the older teens in your house.

Available on amazon.com.