Ready to flashback to the 1980s with the hilarious Hot Tub Time Machine? Get a head start with our top 40 guide to the essential '80s teen movies. From comedies, rom coms, dramas and dramedies to a few gems you may have missed, we've culled the cream of the crop from the era of teen movie nirvana. In the words of Huey Lewis, prepare to "get back in time."
The quintessential John Hughes movie, a landmark Brat Pack flick, and an excellent depiction of what it's like being a teen, including the dramas and absurditites. More than a quarter century later, the film and title song - "Don't You Forget About Me" - are treasured by adolescents of all types and ages.
Later, they would turn into a Karate Kid, a Top Gun, a Drugstore Cowboy, and a couple alumni from both the Red Dawn and St. Elmo's Fire fraternities. Here, though, they were all adept playing the early '60s street toughs depicted in S.E. Hinton's popular teen novel, cast and directed by Godfather Francis Ford Coppola.
Val Kilmer is the teen crowd's version of Bill Murray in the vastly quotable and zany Real Genius. He would later turn to Ice opposite Tom Cruise in Top Gun, but in this comedy - about a group of college brainiacs working on a special laser - Kilmer is infinitely likeable as carefree Chris Knight.
Besides a great perfomance from the late Corey Haim, Lost Boys features lots of good '80s rock and roll vampire fun. It's Twilight without the neuroses. And we'll put Kiefer and his gang up against the Cullens any day.
John Hughes introduces the world to sweetheart Molly Ringwald, geek Anthony Michael Hall and Matt Dillon lookalike Michael Schoeffling. With his 1984 flick, Hughes raised the bar for teen comedy and teen characters that actually resemble real human beings.
At any given moment in America, a revival theater somwhere is playing a midnight showing of The Goonies. Why? Because it's the ultimate '80s kids-on-an-adventure flick. And no matter how old we, our older siblings and our kids get, when is it not fun to seek out One-Eyed Willie's treasures?
It's the movie most often associated with the Brat Pack - all about college grads toughing it out in the real world. Mainly, though, it puts the talents of its 7 stars on celluloid front and center. Between them, they're responsible for a good 92.2% of all youth classics from the decade.
The story's pretty far-fetched, but as a 'what if the Russians had invaded during the Cold War' teen action flick, this "Wolverines!" adventure is pretty entertaining. The remake's on the way this Fall, but for our money, we'll take originals Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen and C. Thomas Howell.
The first adventure of time traveller Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) from 1985 to 1955, and his friendship with Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), is endlessly inventive and entertaining, and it's about to get a hilarious tweak -- with a key Future player in a critical role -- in the new HTTM.
The picture of Sean Penn says everything. Yes, bud, let's party! Just think. Without Jeff Spicoli, and his antics at Ridgemont High, we might never have had Bill and Ted, Wayne and Garth, Beavis and Butthead, and the South Park gang. Countless generations would have been impacted forever.
It's not a traditional teen movie, but Young Guns is basically just the Brat Pack on horseback. Everyone looks appropriately cool aping the Wild Bunch, and Emilio Estevez puts a sly, winking spin on original rebel Billy the Kid.
Anthony Michael Hall and his pal create the sexy Kelly LeBrock from their computer, which allows filmmaker John Hughes to let his creative id run wild. More power to him. A highlight is Bill Paxton as Chet, the ultimate loser older brother.
Following shooting on The Outsiders, Francis Coppola and leading man Matt Dillon created a more artsy adaptation of an S.E. Hinton book with Rumble Fish. Mickey Rourke signs up as Dillon's Peter Pan-esque older brother-role model, The Motorcycle Boy.
Believe it or not, Keanu Reeves can act. Check him out early in his career in River's Edge, playing one of the few teens who has a conscience about his pal's violent crime. Leading the charge the other way is an unhinged Crispin "Hellion" Glover, whose performance is more than a little out there.
The last produced John Hughes "teen" movie is the underrated Some Kind of Wonderful that plays up a heartbreaking love triangle between clueless Keith (Eric Stoltz), rich girl Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson) and spirited drummer Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson).
John Cusack turns in one of his most memorable roles as Lloyd Dobler, the conscious optimist and Fishbone-loving kickboxer who refuses to give up on his romance of the beautiful and intelligent Diane Court (Ione Skye).
Corey Haim's finest role is the unforgettable Lucas. He's not just an underdog for the ages. He's THE underdog for the ages. As the nerdy kid in love with the older girl (Kerri Green) who thinks of him as just a friend, Haim/Lucas has moviegoers rooting for him every time.
The new version's on the way this summer, but the combination of Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-San will always be an original worth revisiting. We love Ralph Macchio, we love Pat Morita, we love Elisabeth Shue, and we love to hiss at William Zabka and his Cobra Kai. You're the best? We know who's the best.
In 1986, Roger Ebert proclaimed Lucas one of the year's best films. In 1988, he said the same for Permanent Record. Again, Keanu Reeves doubters need to watch him here as a teen left behind after his best friend commits suicide. There's a scene where he confronts the friend's father which, trust us, will move even the hardest moviegoer.
Matthew Broderick, Ally Sheedy and a talking computer cause all sorts of believable havoc when they start messing around with the nation's defense system. It's top notch suspense from John Badham, the maker of Saturday Night Fever.
Director Rob Reiner subverts the whole '80s teen sex comedy genre with an insightful and gradual love story that finds everyguy Walter 'Gib' Gibson (John Cusack) exchanging his So Cal fantasy and fantasy girl (Nicolette Sheridan) for his pretty and smart classmate (Daphne Zuniga) on a crosscountry road trip.
Think all '80s teen movies were lighthearted, inconsequential affairs? Try Birdy, the story about two schoolmates (Matthew Modine, Nicolas Cage) who are reunited after suffering physical and emotional scars during the Vietnam War. It's a dark, powerful tale from the director of Midnight Express and The Commitments.
Besides being a showcase for headliners Timothy Hutton and George C. Scott, this movie about military cadets taking over their school features some of the first performances from Sean Penn and Tom Cruise, who both arrive on film fully formed and ready to battle each other.
Kevin Bacon broke out as the high school rebel who dares to dance in a small town that bans such activities, but this '84 blockbuster also features a nice turn from Christopher Penn as the hick buddy, Lori Singer in her post Fame femme fatale vixen mode, and Sarah Jessica Parker as Singer's spunky best pal.
Back in '87, Patrick Dempsey was the believable dork who woos the beautiful Amanda Peterson in Can't Buy Me Love. Who knew? Sidenote: that is 'Rico Suave' pop singer Gerardo as one of Dempsey's football player tormentors-turned-admirers.
The late River Phoenix first made an impression as the sensitive, young leader who guides his friends on a fateful weekend adventure to find the body of a dead kid. The cast all around is phenomenal in Rob Reiner's most personal film.
Disney's drama is a well-modulated story of two brothers (Matt Dillon, Jim Metzler) growing up on their own. Offering able support are girlfriend Meg Tilly and - in an early role - best bud Emilio Estevez.
While we're not sure the fashions have aged well (ok, they haven't), Molly Ringwald is still as adorable as ever as cinderella girl Andie, and Jon Cryer is sympathetic as sidekick Ducky. We're with him when he asks about Andrew McCarthy, "his name's Blane? That's an appliance, not a name."
Mark Harmon's the surf-ready instructor who's stuck in summer school with a likeable and rowdy group of teens in Carl Reiner's 1987 comedy (meanwhile, son Rob was off shooting The Princess Bride). It's light, it's fun and perfect summer fare.
Be excellent to each other. And party on, dudes! Words of wisdom from fun-loving, simple-minded dudes Bill S. Preston (Lost Boy Alexander Winter) and Ted "Theodore" Logan (Speedster Keanu Reeves). The dudes abide.
What, me party, asks Tom Cruise? In Risky Business, Cruise lets it all hang out, making '80s movie history by dancing around to Bob Seger in his undershorts and inviting sexy Rebecca DeMornay to sleep over while his parents are away.
"I ain't gonna be no repo man...F*** that." Thankfully, Emilio Estevez's character changes his mind in this crazy cult classic with the punk music attitude, a bunch of bullish repo men, Harry Dean Stanton and an alien in the back of a '64 Chevy Malibu.
Another genre-bending teen flick, Heathers subverts the John Hughes ethos and literally spikes it with drano. Winona Ryder is at her peak as teen queen Veronica Sawyer, and Christian Slater does his best Nicholson impression as killer/rebel Jason Dean.
High Noon is updated for the '80s in this stylized first outing from U2: Rattle and Hum director Phil Joanau. While it didn't make much at the box office, it's become a cable staple over the years, and holds up as a stylish, unique '80s entry.
You've never heard of it, but this movie about two guys headed to L.A. who become stranded in the desert with a hot lesbian (!) features an early lead role from eventual director Peter Berg, and cameos from no less than Nicolas Cage, Charlie Sheen, Judd Nelson, Cary Elwes and Emilio Estevez.
John Cusack's second collaboration with director Savage Steve Holland (after Better Off Dead) moves the setting to seaside Nantucket, with lots more absurd shenanigans, Demi Moore as the love interest and the funny sight of Bobcat Goldthwaite in a Godzilla suit.
At the time of its release, Vision Quest was sort of the poor man's Karate Kid, except in the wrestling ring. Matthew Modine, though, is just as good as Ralph Macchio at creating an original character, and Linda Fiorentino is more interesting and myserious than Elisabeth Shue in Kid. Plus, Quest has Journey on the soundtrack.
Not the greatest flick, but as far as Corey & Corey movies go, License to Drive maintains a fun pace, and female co-stars Heather Graham and Carol Kane add much needed relief as, respectively, the object of affection and the mom with a bun in the oven.
The coolest kid from '80s teen movies is still the coolest. John Hughes directs Matthew Broderick to a career high as the ultimate fun spirit who advises that life moves pretty fast...if we don't stop to look around once in awhile, well, we could miss it.
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