The Best Year of the 1980s, According to Movies, Is…


Lately, I’ve been a bit obsessed. I wrote a parents’ guide to 80s movies to watch with their kids, and in writing it, I became re-inspired to watch many of them with my own family. As I took note of which movies we were instinctively drawn toward, I began noticing patterns that I had not noticed previously.

In reflecting on those patterns, I started noticing trends that had to do with movies from the 80s, and those trends eventually started blossoming into a hypothesis, which I would then share with literally anyone who would take the time to even half-listen to my ranting.

Ask my wife; she’ll confirm it.

The first trend I noticed the most was that a LOT of our favorite movies seemed to be centered around 1985, plus or minus 1-2 years. In other words, I started getting the suspicion that 1985 may have been the greatest year for movies, and in leading up to 1985, movies increasingly got better, while after 1985, movie quality steadily declined.

The second part to my budding theory was that Hollywood steadily increased its reliance on sequels as cash cows, which, for the most part, really sucked, because what made the 80s really great in terms of movie-making was the sheer volume of originality when it came to film. I mean, come on – think about some of our favorite 80s movies, and then ask yourself if they would have a cookie’s chance in a toddler’s hand of being made today.

Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo? Not a chance. Howard the Duck? Nope. Then again, perhaps it was the extreme, almost obscene originality of Howard the Duck that made studios a bit gun-shy to produce anything THAT far out of the proverbial box.

This leads me to the third part of my theory, which is that the American movie industry is currently experiencing a drastic creativity crisis. Too many sequels. Too many remakes of previously original and beloved films. NOT ENOUGH ORIGINAL IDEAS.

So, as a professor and researcher, I decided to test my theories. Now, this is NOT a rigorous or peer-reviewed research study, so yes, I admit it is flawed.

We don’t need to nitpick those flaws to death in the comments. Even with the flaws, I would wager that the results remain pretty close to the same in the end.

Anyway, here’s the methodology I used:

  • Using (Internet Movie Database), I pulled up database results for the most popular movies of each year. These results are sorted by the bestselling movies. Here’s an example link.
  • I scanned the list for each year and wrote down every last one of the movies that I either have already seen and enjoyed with my kids or movies that I know for a fact they would enjoy but haven’t yet seen. I used a LOT of leeway here so as to include as many movies as humanly possible and ended up including a lot of movies I might not actually ever watch with them, but they are still beloved classics by others. Generally speaking, once you get to the #150-200 mark of each year’s list, you’re getting to the softcore porn movies, films even Lifetime wouldn’t show, and straight-to-video stinkers.
  • I compiled a list for each year, from 1982-1988, which provided me with three years on either side of 1985 to examine any emerging trends. Then, I counted the number of quality (i.e., watchable and enjoyable) movies for each year, followed by counting the number of those movies that were sequels.

Without further fanfare, let’s look at the data. First, here is a chart showing the number of enjoyable movies for each year:

Number of movies

Whoa. That’s pretty telling.

Now, here’s the number of sequels among all those delicious movies:

Number of sequels

Numbers don’t lie.

My first theory, that 1985 was the pinnacle of creative, original, family movie night friendly films, was pretty accurate. As for the years leading up and away, well, 1983-1984 and 1986-1988 were pretty great years for movies as well. However, among those good movies were an increasing number of sequels, creating the trend or the norm that plagues Hollywood today. My man, Roberto, wrote an incredible article (and pseudo scientific article) on the impact of sequels here.

This now begs the question of whether that trend continued into the 90s as well, and maybe that’s a task I need to tackle once I get the write-up done for a parent’s guide to 90s movies for family movie night.

In other words, to be continued…


In case anyone is curious, here’s the list, ordered by descending popularity at the box office. Sequels are highlighted.

List of 80s Movies


50+ Essential Horror Movies: A Guide to Introducing Your Kids to the Genre

Previously on this site, I began with making a case for why parents should institute a family movie night tradition, after which I followed up with my [imperfect and incomplete] list of 89 movies from the 80s that could make a great starting point for such a tradition to unfold.

In that list, I specifically excluded two types of movies—Star Wars and those within the horror genre—because I believe they deserve their own lists.

Before we jump into the horror genre, allow me to provide context. After all, a lot of parents might stop reading at this point, wondering why in the deep-fried holy hell parents would even want to introduce their kids to the horror genre.

Well, for this movie-loving father figure, horror is where my love of film originated.

The horror genre provides a benefit few other film types can offer a view: catharsis. What is this mystical and semi-obscure idea? Continue reading

89 Essential 80s Movies for Parent-Child Movie Nights

Disclaimer: I was 5 (and a half) in 1980 and 14 (and a half) when we rang in the new year in 1990. That stated, get comfortable, because there’s a lot of ground to cover when it comes to 80s flicks.

As mentioned previously in the origin story for this site, and as painfully obvious as the site’s title implies, I watched a fully rounded metric buttload (2.205 times larger than a SAE buttload) of movies as a kid, and as stated above, the 80s encompassed more than half of my childhood. Therefore, it’s understandable that I have a lot to say about my beloved childhood films, and even more obvious is the fact that I love to share those experiences with my kids.

Stated plainly, I watch a LOT of 80s movies with my children. When we first started, I wasn’t sure how they would take them. After all, if my father had ever sat down to watch  a movie with me during the 80s and busted out one of his childhood favorites, that would mean I would have had to sit through some black and white movie from the early 1950s. Image result for hard pass No offense to classic movie lovers, but no thanks. With that in mind, when I offered to watch one of my faves with my young children, I was concerned that they would view them with the same level of disdain.

Boy, was I wrong and glad to be so. Movie nights featuring films from the 80s are far and away my kids’ favorites, so below, I am offering an essential lineup of films to watch with your kids, including three items: 1) Quick quote (first thing to come to my mind), 2) My take on the significance of the film, and 3) My kids’ reactions to the movies. I’ve also included links to for each movie in case you want to learn more about them, such as looking up who’s in each movie, trivia, quotes, soundtrack info, etc., along with any other pertinent links where applicable. Continue reading

Why You Need a Family Movie Night Tradition

A typical Friday evening as a 20-something single dude:

Meet friends for greasy bar food. Drink copious amounts of alcohol. Sing karaoke badly. Dance even worse. Lose memory. Make decisions likely to become regrets the next day. Repeat as necessary.

A typical Friday evening as a 40-something father of four:

Transform the living room, starting with a mattress base, surround ourselves with the arms of our favorite stuffed animals, and top with no less than fourteen pillows and six blankets. Make a bucket of coconut oil and sea salt popcorn. Ensure steady supply of gummy cola bottles, Dots, and/or various forms of chocolate. Drape myself with a Snuggie. Gather and organize remotes, power up the television, close the curtains, turn out the lights, and make memories while cuddling my children. Continue reading

The Raised on Movies Origin Story

The year was 1985, which, by the way, I contend is one of the best years of the 1980s as far as movies are concerned (likely the subject of a later post). I was heading into public school for the first time, entering fifth grade. Image result for 1985Prior to my mingling with the heathens and sociopaths I expected to find in the public school system, I had spent the previous four years being indoctrinated into a private Christian school system, which was really about 20 kids under the same roof, all homeschooling together at the same time and place.

Continue reading