When people think of It they immediately think of a terrorizing evil clown, which…fair. However, one of the things that makes It so great is the group of kids (better known as The Losers’ Club) running around Derry, Maine trying to solve the mystery of the town’s many disappearances. It’s another film on a fun list of movies and shows that are about kids yet not always necessarily for kids (although many of them are). I thought it would be fun to put together some of these youthful adventure movies that are packed with nostalgia and elements that Hollywood is still trying to resurrect today. So, grab some popcorn and hit up Netflix and Amazon and enjoy these Old Faithfuls before scaring the crap out of yourself at It this weekend.
(2016 – )
What is it? A love letter to the ’80s classics that captivated a generation, Stranger Things is set in 1983 Indiana, where a young boy vanishes into thin air. As friends, family and local police search for answers, they are drawn into an extraordinary mystery involving top-secret government experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one very strange little girl.
Why it’s great: Stranger Things completely took the world by storm when it premiered on Netflix last year. Its perfect mixture of 80’s nostalgia and horror made for a brilliant combination that people couldn’t get enough of. Even though the story follows a group of kids trying to solve the disappearance of their friend, the cast is well-rounded on all age brackets.
What is it? When two brothers find out they might lose their house they are desperate to find a way to keep their home. They find a treasure map and bring some friends along to find it. They are all out looking for the “X” and trying to get away from a group of bad guys who also want the treasure.
Why it’s great: The Goonies is an iconic adventure staple. It has everything from treasure maps to monsters all while teaching a great lesson about friendship and family. It’s a great movie for kids and parents alike and is guaranteed to transplant you back to your youth almost immediately.
What is it? A coming-of-age story about a group of young boys growing up in California in 1962. A new, shy boy moves into the neighborhood, where he is initially rejected by the local boys because he doesn’t know how to play baseball. Soon, he learns the sport and joins the group of boys who play ball in a local sandlot, and with his new friends, he has a variety of adventures.
Why it’s great: The Sandlot was always destined to become a classic. It’s literally about America’s favorite pastime and is full of adventures and elements that remind you of the simpler days. Playing baseball in the park? Check. The fair? Check. Going to the community pool? Check. Much like The Great Bambino, this film is a timeless legend.
Stand By Me
What is it? After learning that a stranger has been accidentally killed near their rural homes, four Oregon boys decide to go see the body. On the way, Gordie, Vern, Chris and Teddy encounter a mean junk man and a marsh full of leeches, as they learn more about one another and their very different home lives. Just a lark at first, the boys’ adventure evolves into a defining event in their lives.
Why it’s great: For starters, its young cast is absolutely stellar including Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, Kiefer Sutherland, and Richard Dreyfuss. Stand by Me has always been a favorite amongst the youthful nostalgia films. It’s a great coming of age story, especially for young men, that is littered with friendship, regret, pain and love.
What is it? In the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash while making a super 8 movie and soon suspect that it was not an accident. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town, and the local Deputy tries to uncover the truth – something more terrifying than any of them could have imagined.
Why it’s great: Super 8 was Speilberg’s love letter to the cinematic era long before “franchises” and “blockbuster” were the main priority. While it didn’t always have the best critical reviews, many fans loved its touching story and visual feel. By teaming up with J.J. Abrams, Speilberg was able to stray away from the normal nostalgia for a period of time and instead made audiences nostalgic for the old ways of filmmaking.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
What is it? After a gentle alien becomes stranded on Earth, the being is discovered and befriended by a young boy named Elliott. Bringing the extraterrestrial into his suburban California house, Elliott introduces E.T., as the alien is dubbed, to his brother and his little sister, Gertie, and the children decide to keep its existence a secret. Soon, however, E.T. falls ill, resulting in government intervention and a dire situation for both Elliott and the alien.
Why it’s great: I mean, it’s E.T. It currently holds a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and was able to bring all ages together for a fantasy film filled with childlike wonderment without making the audience feel like they were watching a movie about childlike wonderment. The stunning way that it conveyed kids experiencing real adult emotions for the first time was really something special for the time.
School of Rock
What is it? Posing as a substitute music teacher at an elite private elementary school, enthusiastic guitarist Dewey Finn exposes his students to the hard rock gods he idolizes and emulates. As he gets his privileged and precocious charges in touch with their inner rock ‘n’ roll animals, he imagines redemption at a local Battle of the Bands.
Why it’s great: These movies don’t just stop with baseball and aliens, musicians get a little respect too. School of Rock shines a light on finding yourself and friendship through music, which is a beautiful message to begin with, but sounds even better when you add in the film’s awesome soundtrack.
Bad News Bears
(1976 & 2005)
What is it? Hard-drinking, ex-minor-league hopeful Morris Buttermaker grumpily agrees to coach a Little League team at the behest of lawyer-councilman Bob Whitewood, who has a vendetta against the league for excluding his marginally talented son. After failing with his new team of misfits, Buttermaker enlists feisty and gifted pitcher Amanda Whurlitzer to lead the charge — but can he find the luck and patience to whip these outcasts into shape?
Why it’s great: You can’t go wrong with baseball…unless you’re the Bad News Bears trying to play baseball, of course. This film, which originally came out in 1976 with a Billy Bob Thorton remake in 2005, will have you rooting for underdogs that are literally underdogs. Bad News Bears has a lot of great lessons about heart, acceptance and never giving up all alongside some great laughs.
All film descriptions courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes.
Having studied Media & Writing at James Madison University, I always knew that I wanted to do some type of creative writing, but being able to write about zombies, Starks, and superheroes on a daily basis for Fan Fest is my actual dream. While I probably shouldn’t be as proud as I am to be so similar to Nick Miller, I do hope to one day write my own “Pepperwood Chronicles’.