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7 Retro Movies to Watch with your Kids and One to Avoid

Posted Jan 13 2011 1:12am

What to do? It’s 6 o’clock, dinner’s done and the kids are fighting, whining and waiting to be entertained. Tick tock. Three more hours until bedtime. It’s too cold for the kids to play outside and all you want to do is put up your miserable feet.

Quick, quell the grumpiness and rent or stream a movie. That’ll please for an hour or two, especially if you add popcorn. Shh, no whining from you either. We’re not talking about one of those kill-me-if-I-have-to-watch-it-again kind of kid-flicks. Tonight take it retro with the cool movies of your childhood, dude. Share the awesomeness with those cranky monkeys, create fabulous movie-night memories and gain a few moments of cinematic peace.

To help make the evening easier, we’ve curated 7 amazing and available titles at Netflix.com and highlighted one to avoid.

The Goonies

Rated PG | 1985 | Netflix: DVD only

A group of kids from the Goon Docks search for pirate treasure to save their homes from being demolished. Remember the awesomeness of being a kid and saving the day? Included: The truffle shuffle, a young Sean Astin, a chattering-teeth grappling hook and adventure. Oh the adventure! I know you know this. Just prompting nostalgia. Plan ahead with this one though, it’s mail-delivered DVD only.

Labyrinth

Rated PG | 1986 | Netflix: DVD & Streaming

Who doesn’t wish their sibling would disappear at some point? Fifteen-year-old Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) wanted her baby brother to go poof and Jareth (David Bowie), the Goblin King, with his amazing crystal ball tricks, made it happen. Sarah realized what you wish for isn’t always what you want. She sets out on an adventure through Jareth’s labyrinth, of course, to bring her brother home.

See the lesson in this? Yes, it’s all wrapped up in magic, goblins, the bog of eternal stench, the sweet vocals of David Bowie and weird head-throwing puppets … but the teachable moment is: You love your siblings and want them around even if they are a pain in the butt.

Bonus: If the kids love the movie there’s also the newish four-part manga series “ Return to Labyrinth .”

The Secret of NIMH

Rated G | 1982 | Netflix: DVD Only

This time the adventure is with Ms. Brisby, a mouse and widowed mother of three, who sets out to save her sick son Timothy and the family home from the farmer’s plow. She seeks the help of some super-smart lab rats and finds out her late husband was closely connected to them.

Our kids are too young to know Wil Wheaton and Shannon Doherty, but you might appreciate their young mouse voices in this cartoon. If that doesn’t get you, perhaps Dom DeLuise as a goofy crow will. This flick has become a cult classic and highly revered for it’s animation style.

The Last Unicorn

Rated G | 1982 | Netflix: DVD Only

If your child freaks for anime, this movie smacks of that same wonderful fantasy weirdness. Because unicorns are involved it might seem to be more of a girl flick, but the boys will dig it too. Heck, the tender feelings at the end might prompt those soccer ball-kicking, mud-flinging sibling-buggers to shed a tear or two.

NeverEnding Story

Rated PG | 1984 | Netflix: DVD & Streaming

Bookworms from the 80s, you know this movie is your hands-down fave. Come on admit it. (I do!) Your miniature book-lovers will adore Bastian, the bullied kid who steals a book (let’s gloss over that steal-y part, mmmkay?), hides in the school attic (look past the skipping class bit too) and reads about the incredible world of Fantasia. Your rough-and-tumble child will mimic Atreyu, the main character in the stolen book, and his action-adventure journey to save Fantasia against the Nothing. Along the way he meets a flying dragon, racing snails, a rock-eater and escapes the Swamp of Sadness.

In the end … well, if by chance you haven’t seen this flick, I’m not going to pull a “Sixth Sense” spoiler on you. Stream it tonight.

Hook

Rated PG | 1991 | Netflix: DVD & Streaming

Peter Pan grows up and then forgets he was a boy who wasn’t supposed to grow up. Peter (Robin Williams) becomes an aggressive corporate lawyer who doesn’t have time for his wife and kids. Well, that just can’t happen. On a family trip to London to visit Grandma Wendy, Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) gets his … err … hook around Peter’s kids and whisks them back to Neverland.

See the adventure starting? That’s right, Peter must remember his past so he can save his kids. And let’s not forget Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell. Adorable and sassy!

This movie is also a reminder to love life and appreciate it. So de-grump and enjoy.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Rated PG | 1982 | Netflix: DVD (Rent disc 2)

Rent the original on disc two if you want to see it like you did as a kid in the theaters. Ignore the sanitized version with trimmed scenes, guns removed and replaced with walkie-talkies and old-school special effects dropped to make way for CGI enhancements. Like “Highlander 2” and “The Matrix Revolutions,” disc one shouldn’t exist. Now that that’s explained who can resist 10-year-old Elliot as he befriends an alien and tries to help him get home? Your kids should be pointing fingers at each other and shouting “E.T. Phone home” by this weekend and then asking about Reese’s Pieces for dessert.

The ONE to AVOID: Short Circuit

Rated PG | 1986 | Netflix: DVD & Streaming

Keep the memories of Number 5 alive, but don’t ever watch it again. Like. Ever.

I know on occasion you remember how cool Ally Sheedy was with her shaggy hair. Then you wiggle your hips and hum El Debarge’s “Who’s Johnny” while you smile in that special way. The problem is the movie is so much better in memory. It really is. And I want you to believe that and just keep humming happily while doing the dishes or mowing the lawn.

Watching “Short Circuit” as an adult — it’s jaw-dropping how a movie so dumb made it so big. (“I’m standing here beside myself.”) Then I think, well we were at a more innocent age. Perhaps the ideas of futuristic technology and naughty talk ( “I am thinking she is a virgin. Or at least she used to be.” “I am sporting a tremendous woody.”) were so powerful because we were virgins and didn’t own a Droid.

Admittedly, the one-liners, when read, are funny. Hilarious. But still, don’t do it. Reminisce. Relive the magic in your mind. Stay away from hitting “play.”

Why’s the movie so rotten? Maybe because today’s technology makes Johnny 5 seem like a cosmic joke. Your 8-year-old could kick J5′s robotic ass with her iPhone and FurReal walking pet. It could be now that the bawdy one-liners barely register the the bad acting becomes so incredibly obvious. (Sorry Ally.) Who knows? Just do yourself a favor, take a pass on this one. Stick with “E.T.” or, if you must have machines that do strange things, give “Batteries Not Included” a shot.

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