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The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s 

Ranker Film
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Updated March 20, 2020 24.9k votes 2.2k voters 125.7k views 100 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite children films that were released in the 1980s

This list of the top ‘80s kids movies is chock-full of genre classics. Is the best ‘80s kids movie E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, the highest-grossing film of the 1980s? What about The Karate Kid, a classic that is constantly referenced, parodied, and quoted, its mark on popular culture indelible? Or how about The Princess Bride? The list goes on and on.

Let’s not forget about animated films, either. The Little Mermaid is one of the most popular animated children’s movies ever. You can find plenty of Miyazaki on this list, as well, including My Neighbor Totoro, one of the legendary Japanese director’s finest efforts. Vote up the best '80s kid movies below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section. 

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1
The Goonies is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
Corey Feldman, Josh Brolin, Sean Astin

Released: 1985

Directed by: Richard Donner

The Goonies is a 1985 American adventure comedy film directed by Richard Donner. The screenplay was written by Chris Columbus from a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg. The film's ...more

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Things You Have To Ignore In Order To Enjoy Watching 'The Goonies' #15 of 355 The Best Rainy Day Movies #3 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

2
Back to the Future is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
EricWeatherford added Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

Released: 1985

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Back to the Future is a 1985 American science fiction film directed by Robert Zemeckis. Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent thirty years into ...more

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Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Back to the Future #8 of 355 The Best Rainy Day Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
E.T. the Extra-Terrestri... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak, Debra Winger

Released: 1982

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a 1982 American science fiction-family film co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Melissa Mathison, featuring special effects by Carlo ...more

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The Dark Story Behind The Canceled Sequel To 'E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial' #132 of 355 The Best Rainy Day Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
Ghostbusters is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
EricWeatherford added Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd

Released: 1984

Directed by: Ivan Reitman

Ghostbusters is a 1984 American sci-fi-fantasy comedy film, directed and produced by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The film stars Bill Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis as ...more

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Behind The Scenes Secrets From 'Ghostbusters' Most People Have Never Heard #67 of 355 The Best Rainy Day Movies #19 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

5
The Karate Kid is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
Elisabeth Shue, Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita

Released: 1984

Directed by: John G. Avildsen

The Karate Kid is a 1984 American martial arts romantic drama film directed by John G. Avildsen and written by Robert Mark Kamen, starring Ralph Macchio, who was 22 years old during principal ...more

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#7 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #135 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #68 of 299 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

6
The NeverEnding Story is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
Gerald McRaney, Limahl, Moses Gunn

Released: 1984

Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial The NeverEnding Story is a 1984 West German epic fantasy film based on the novel of the same name by Michael Ende, about a boy who reads a magical library book that tells a story of a young ...more

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#77 of 355 The Best Rainy Day Movies #40 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #19 of 48 Every Movie Coming To Netflix In August 2020

7
The Princess Bride is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
Billy Crystal, Robin Wright, André the Giant

Released: 1987

Directed by: Rob Reiner

The Princess Bride is a 1987 American romantic comedy fantasy adventure film directed and co-produced by Rob Reiner. It was adapted by William Goldman from his 1973 novel of the same name. The ...more

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Who Would Star In 'The Princess Bride' If It Were Made Today? #14 of 355 The Best Rainy Day Movies #6 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

8
Gremlins is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
EricWeatherford added Steven Spielberg, Corey Feldman, Phoebe Cates

Released: 1984

Directed by: Joe Dante

Gremlins is a 1984 American horror comedy film directed by Joe Dante, released by Warner Bros. The film is about a young man who receives a strange creature called a mogwai as a pet, which then ...more

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'Gremlins' Was So Intense That It Led To The Invention Of The PG-13 Rating #68 of 355 The Best Rainy Day Movies #30 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

9
Big is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
EricWeatherford added Tom Hanks, Jon Lovitz, Elizabeth Perkins

Released: 1988

Directed by: Penny Marshall

Big is a 1988 American fantasy comedy film directed by Penny Marshall, and stars Tom Hanks as Josh Baskin, a young boy who makes a wish "to be big" and is then aged to adulthood ...more

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'Big' Is Actually An Existential Nightmare #54 of 355 The Best Rainy Day Movies #14 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

10
Labyrinth is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
Jennifer Connelly, David Bowie, Frank Oz

Released: 1986

Directed by: Jim Henson

Labyrinth is a 1986 British-American musical adventure fantasy film directed by Jim Henson, executive produced by George Lucas and based upon conceptual designs by Brian Froud. The film stars ...more

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Get Lost In The Best Quotes From 'Labyrinth' #137 of 194 Musical Movies With the Best Songs #133 of 355 The Best Rainy Day Movies

11
Flight of the Navigator ... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
Sarah Jessica Parker, Paul Reubens, Veronica Cartwright

Released: 1986

Directed by: Randal Kleiser

Flight of the Navigator is a 1986 comic science fiction film directed by Randal Kleiser and written by Mark H. Baker and Michael Burton, about David Freeman, a 12-year-old boy who is taken by an ...more

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#141 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #191 of 363 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #81 of 181 The Best Alien Movies Ever Made

12
Short Circuit is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
NicholasAlt added Steve Guttenberg, Ally Sheedy, Austin Pendleton

Released: 1986

Directed by: John Badham

Short Circuit is a 1986 American comic science fiction film directed by John Badham, and written by S. S. Wilson and Brent Maddock. The film's plot centers upon an experimental military robot ...more

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#93 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #333 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #362 of 693 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made

13
Stand by Me is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
MuhamadHafiziRamli added Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, John Cusack

Released: 1986

Directed by: Rob Reiner

Stand by Me is a 1986 American coming of age comedy-drama adventure film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell. Based on the novella ...more

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Behind-The-Scenes Stories From 'Stand By Me' That Prove The Film Shaped The Child Actors #112 of 355 The Best Rainy Day Movies #9 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

14
A Christmas Story is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
EricWeatherford added Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon, Zack Ward

Released: 1983

Directed by: Bob Clark

A Christmas Story is a 1983 American Christmas comedy film based on the short stories and semi-fictional anecdotes of author and raconteur Jean Shepherd, based on his book In God We Trust: All ...more

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Every Inaccuracy In 'A Christmas Story’s Version Of The '40s #39 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #50 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies

15
The Fox and the Hound is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
Kurt Russell, Mickey Rooney, Corey Feldman

Released: 1981

Directed by: Richard Rich, Art Stevens, Ted Berman

he Fox and the Hound is a 1981 American animated drama film based on the Daniel P. Mannix novel of the same name, produced by Walt Disney Productions and released in the United States on July ...more

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#20 of 568 The Best Animated Films Ever #72 of 194 Musical Movies With the Best Songs #104 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

16
The Little Mermaid is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
Jodi Benson, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Pat Carroll

Released: 1989

Directed by: Ron Clements, John Musker

The Little Mermaid is a 1989 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Based on the Danish fairy tale by Hans ...more

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#86 of 568 The Best Animated Films Ever #7 of 194 Musical Movies With the Best Songslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

17
An American Tail is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
Christopher Plummer, Madeline Kahn, Dom DeLuise

Released: 1986

Directed by: Don Bluth

An American Tail is a 1986 American animated musical adventure film directed by Don Bluth and produced by Sullivan Bluth Studios and Amblin Entertainment. The film tells the story of Fievel ...more

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#53 of 568 The Best Animated Films Ever #64 of 194 Musical Movies With the Best Songs #136 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked

18
The Dark Crystal is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Lisa Maxwell

Released: 1982

Directed by: Frank Oz, Jim Henson

The Dark Crystal is a 1982 American–British fantasy film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz. The plot revolves around Jen, an elflike 'Gelfling' on a quest to restore balance to his alien world ...more

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Jim Henson's 'The Dark Crystal' Is Even Darker Than You Remember #145 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #83 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

19
The Land Before Time is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
Diana Ross, Frank Welker, Judith Barsi

Released: 1988

Directed by: Don Bluth

The Land Before Time is a 1988 American-Irish animated adventure drama film directed and co-produced by Don Bluth and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Kathleen Kennedy, and ...more

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#12 of 568 The Best Animated Films Ever #107 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #55 of 363 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

20
Who Framed Roger Rabbit ... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
Tom Islava added Kathleen Turner, Christopher Lloyd, Bob Hoskins

Released: 1988

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a 1988 American live-action/animated fantasy-comedy film directed by Robert Zemeckis. The screenplay by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman is based on Gary K. Wolf's ...more

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21
Harry and the Hendersons... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
John Lithgow, Don Ameche, David Suchet

Released: 1987

Directed by: William Dear

Harry and the Hendersons is a 1987 American fantasy comedy film directed and produced by William Dear, and starring John Lithgow, Melinda Dillon, Don Ameche, David Suchet, Margaret Langrick, ...more

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#169 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #163 of 363 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

22
All Dogs Go to Heaven is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
Loni Anderson, Dom DeLuise, Vic Tayback

Released: 1989

Directed by: Don Bluth, Gary Goldman, Dan Kuenster

All Dogs Go to Heaven is a 1989 American–Irish animated musical adventure comedy film directed and produced by Don Bluth and released by United Artists and Goldcrest Films. The film tells the ...more

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Animation Is The Only Thing Keeping 'All Dogs Go to Heaven' In The Kids' Films Genre #60 of 568 The Best Animated Films Ever #106 of 194 Musical Movies With the Best Songs

23
The Last Starfighter is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
EricWeatherford added Wil Wheaton, Robert Preston, Catherine Mary Stewart

Released: 1984

Directed by: Nick Castle

The Last Starfighter is a 1984 American space opera film directed by Nick Castle. The film tells the story of Alex Rogan, an average teenage boy recruited by an alien defense force to fight in ...more

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#516 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #206 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #266 of 360 The Best Movies Based On Books

24
Willow is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
NicholasAlt added Val Kilmer, Kevin Pollak, Warwick Davis

Released: 1988

Directed by: Ron Howard

Willow is a 1988 American fantasy film directed by Ron Howard, produced and with a story by George Lucas, and starring Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Jean Marsh, and Billy Barty. ...more

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'Willow' Is A Watered-Down Version Of 'The Lord Of The Rings' #100 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #353 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies

25
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Kids Movies of the 1980s
Speirthine added Keri Russell, Allison Mack, Rick Moranis

Released: 1989

Directed by: Joe Johnston

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is a 1989 soft science fiction-family film. The directorial debut of Joe Johnston and produced by Walt Disney Pictures, it tells the story of an inventor who ...more

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