One of the best parts of becoming a parent is reliving our own childhoods with our kids. For some that means joining Little League, rediscovering old toys and playing with them again, and — especially for me — watching the movies I loved as a kid with my boys.
I know I’m probably biased, but I consider the 1980s (and early ’90s to an extent) to be best time period ever when it came to movies. They were kooky, crazy, adorable, hysterical, adventurous, gut-wrenching, and heroic. And since I was a kid myself at the time, I especially gravitated toward the movies that also involved kids. Anything coming of age or including an awesome adventure was OK by me, and since my parents were pretty liberal with what my brother and I were allowed to watch, we took it all in.
Now that Will is 7 and getting old enough to appreciate more than Saturday morning cartoons, I’ve started slowly introducing him to some greatest hits from my youth. Except…well, I came to a startling realization.
Barely any of these movies could be made today.
It’s only been 25-30 years or so, but watching these movies and being reminded of how life was then is startling. What is called “free range” parenting today was simply called “parenting” in the ’80s. Kids did stuff all the time, often unsupervised, and no one batted an eyelash. Was it as safe then versus now? Probably not. But it sure seemed a whole lot more fun.
With that in mind, here are eight movies from back in the day, and why they just couldn’t be made in today’s climate.
8. The Breakfast Club
First of all, look at the reasons they’re in detention. Claire skipped class to go shopping, which parents these days would likely excuse and then scream at the principal for doling out a detention to their precious cherub. Andrew taped Larry Lester’s buns together, which would probably result in a lawsuit instead of detention. Bender pulled a fire alarm which is a much bigger no-no now than back then, and might get a kid expelled. And Brian was found with a gun in his locker! Even though it was a flare gun, if that happened today the school would (justifiably) be on lockdown with a SWAT team close behind. Also, I bet one of those kids had a peanut butter sandwich for lunch in the library, and no way is that allowed anymore due to allergies. I just hope they didn’t have Oreos, because then they’d all REALLY be screwed.
7. The Sandlot (yes, I know this is from the 90s)
First of all, there’s no way all of these kids would be let out to play alone all day. Second, some safety obsessed parent is going to take one look at that field and get the city health department down there in a heartbeat to condemn it because it’s not up to code. And PETA would not take kindly to the treatment of Hercules. But sadly, the biggest reason this movie wouldn’t be the same is the scene with Squints and Wendy Peffercorn. Faking drowning just to get a kiss from a gorgeous lifeguard would not be looked upon kindly today. Instead of considering it capricious hijinks, Michael “Squints” Palledorous would be labeled a dangerous sexual predator, and he’d never marry Wendy, have nine kids, and own the local drug store.
6. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If it wasn’t the parental GPS tracker in his phone that told his parents where he really was, any modern day Ferris would no doubt give himself away on Periscope when people started taping him on the parade float. Also, holding hands with those kids in the art museum would’ve ended with charges filed. But the good news is you can still go to Wrigley Field and watch the Chicago Cubs lose.
5. Stand By Me
First of all, what parents do you know who would think nothing of their kids just disappearing for 2-3 days on end without a word? Second, they’d probably end up in trouble when they find the body on the tracks and take incriminating selfies next to it. But I’m sure in this version that would all be forgotten when Verne and Gordy go viral and become famous after Teddy captures the train dodge on video and puts it on YouTube.
4. Dirty Dancing
Why can’t Dirty Dancing be made today? Oh, I don’t know. How about BECAUSE JOHNNY IS 35 YEARS OLD AND BANGING A 16-YEAR-OLD GIRL?!?!?! Nobody puts Baby in the corner, but somebody is going to put Johnny in a jail cell. However, sadly enough, the options many women have concerning their reproductive rights are still as disgustingly limited today as they were then.
3. Lean On Me
Principal Joe Clark can handle the poverty, hopelessness, disrespect, and decay of the educational system in inner-city schools. But this movie can’t be remade because he would’ve quit after just one day of dealing with Common Core.
2. The Goonies
This remains the absolute, hands-down favorite movie of my youth. I watched it 742 times and I still can’t get enough of it. However, you can’t remake Goonies. First of all, I think the developmentally disabled community would have a much bigger problem with the portrayal of Sloth than it did 30 years ago. But mainly, some huffy parent in Astoria would call the police to report a roving gang of young children who shouldn’t be out alone. Then, when the police investigate, they’d find none of those kids were wearing a helmet while biking. That means the Goonies never get into the Fratelli’s basement, don’t get to go on the treasure hunt, never find One-Eyed Willie, and Mikey’s marble bag is heart-breakingly empty when the bulldozers come to turn their home into a new golf course. Which is a moot point anyway since Mikey and Brand’s parents would lose custody due to the lack of bike helmets, and Rosita would be stuck raising the boys in addition to her own family. Yeah, like I said, I watched this movie A LOT!
1. The Karate Kid
The 1980s version of this all-time great movie is filled with things that just wouldn’t fly today. In this version, Daniel-san would likely never get to complete his training. Why? Because suspicious neighbors alerted CPS that a minor was sneaking into an old Asian man’s house everyday, and was made to do manual labor in exchange for a free vintage automobile. But mainly, this movie would be ruined in 2015 because of the end. Imagine watching Daniel-san doing his crane kick, beating Johnny, besting the Cobra Kai, triumphing over evil, and then — no winner is declared because everything ends in a tie and everyone gets a trophy. No thanks.
Alright you ’80s movie nerds, tell me which ones I missed and why they wouldn’t work today!