Sick of Watching ‘Frozen 2’ for the 8th Time Today? Try These Ten Throwback Movies

Being a parent is hard work and nothing is harder on the adult psyche than having to watch the same movie over and over and over again. If the mere suggestion of snowmen, reindeer, or ice sculptures makes you want to throw the entire kid away, here are some throwbacks to a kinder, gentler time: your childhood (I’m kidding). Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make sure your kids grow up with the exact same pop culture references as you, with a few obscure titles thrown in to make them interesting.

Without further ado, here are 10 movies from the ‘80s and ‘90s that you can use to inculcate—er, I mean educate, the next generation:

For the sports buff:

Rookie of the Year

A fantastical premise (12-year-old kid develops impossibly fast pitching ability after breaking his arm), appealing protagonist, and genuine love for the game of baseball make this a compelling watch for sports fans and non-sports fans alike. Watch this as an adult if you want to develop confusing feelings for Gary Busey. You’ve been forewarned.

For the wilderness survival merit badge holder…

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey 

When you were young, did you go out into the woods behind your house, build a makeshift shelter out of tree branches, and pretend to be surviving the harsh winter on your own? Asking for a friend. If you have a small person who longs for adventure and the open road, this is the flick for them. Plus, adorable animals voiced by Michael J. Fox, Sally Field, and Don Ameche will make your kids beg to adopt a pet if you don’t have one already. Make sure to break out the tissues for that reunion scene.

For the princess-obsessed…

The Swan Princess

Kid wearing crown

Honestly, who can forget that classic number “Princesses on Parade?” You might WANT to forget it after your child begs to watch this movie over and over again. John Cleese as an arrogant French frog who thinks he’s a prince is a comedic highlight.

For the aspiring Nancy Drew…

The Great Mouse Detective

I know it’s a Disney movie, but The Great Mouse Detective has one of the best jump scares of all time, one of greatest villains of all time, and the best Sherlock Holmes inspired performance of all time (sorry, Cumberbatch). It’s surprisingly scary for little kids, but part of being a parent is making sure your offspring have the same traumatic associations that you do. I don’t make the rules.

For the kid who yearns to be an orphan…

The Journey of Natty Gann

There’s one in every family. You’ve got the Great Depression, you’ve got a wolf as the co-lead, and you’ve got a very young, very adorable John Cusack. Natty Gann is the ultimate heroine in my book, and yes, I was so obsessed with this movie that I also read the book (nerd).

For the budding rock star…

That Thing You Do!

Kid with guitar

Though not technically a kid’s movie, That Thing You Do! is fun and catchy. The cast is a virtual cornucopia of ‘90s star power (Liv Tyler! Johnathon Schaech! Tom Hanks!) Instead of showing your kids Empire Records, show them this instead (please don’t show them Empire Records).

For the future world traveler…

Big Bird in China

I have a soft spot for this movie the size of Snuffleupagus. It has everything you could possibly want: a touching musical number about friendship (complete with hand motions!), a creepy villain who wears face paint and tells confusing riddles, and Chinese cultural landmarks. There’s even a “digging a hole to China” bit that still slaps. If your small human learns how to say, “I love you, Big Bird” in Chinese, even better.

For anyone who’s ever dreamed of eating a giant Oreo the size of a house…

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

Which is all of us right now. I could use a condominium-sized Oreo (or three) in this quarantine. Let’s see, we have kids in danger, being small in a big world, befriending a cute ant… really starting to sense a theme here. Kids will love the fantastical visuals. You might appreciate the ‘80s fashion and a shockingly young Rick Moranis.

For the horse girl…

Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken

Sure, there’s always running away to join the circus, but what about running away to join the circus and becoming a huge star who gets to hang out with horses? Though not strictly the plot of Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken (there’s also a love story), this movie will captivate your resident animal-lover while inspiring kids and adults alike to overcome great adversity, even if that adversity is just folding the laundry right away instead of leaving it as a giant pile on the couch.

For the whole family…

Back to the Future

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads—because no one’s going anywhere, baby, we are all #stayathome. And what better way to pass the time then to take it way back to this classic. It’s better than you remember, trust me. Childlike wonder is not dead, it has simply been co-opted by a stellar cast, riveting special effects, and holy Plutonium, how did they even come up with this script?

There you go! Get your nostalgia on while keeping the kids entertained. Soon they’ll be saying, Olaf who?

Written by: Maylin Tu