Top 30 Movies of My Childhood

This is something that's been floating around in my head for a while.  I love Top Whatever lists, and I've been wanting to do one on here.  These may not all be movies that came out while I was a kid, but they're certainly the films that dominated my VCR during my formative years.  Prepare yourselves for nostalgia overload.

So without further ado...

The Top 30 Movies of My Childhood

30. Twister (1996)

I have vivid memories of me and my younger cousin watching this movie pretty much every Sunday afternoon growing up.  It was just scary enough for us kids to feel like we were watching a real grown-up movie, and we loved it.  Who cares if it employs questionable logic?  It had everything a kid needs - natural disasters, danger, and stupid cow jokes.  Looking back, it's a pretty lame movie, but that didn't stop me from developing an irrational fear of tornadoes.

29. The Land Before Time (1988)

This one's going way back, to when I was in my 4s and 5s.  I loved Littlefoot and Duckie, and I thought Cera was the world's biggest bitch.  I think we got this movie when McDonalds used to sell VHS tapes for like 4 or 5 dollars with a meal purchase, if that's any indication of how long ago this was.  There were ten or twelve sequels, and although I think I saw up to the third film, this was the original and the only one I had any time for.

28. Babes in Toyland (1986)

This was another movie from very early on in my childhood, so I only have hazy memories about this film.  But I do know two things: I loved it, and I was terrified by it.  What kid doesn't want to go to a magical land where toys come to life?  Oh yeah...Drew Barrymore.  Because she's determined to be a "grown-up" buzzkill while all this super cool stuff is happening around here.  Giant toy soldiers?  Check.  Super awesome cookie factory?  Check.  Actual old woman who lives in an actual shoe with her actual multiple children?  Check.  But Drew's right, it's definitely way cooler to be an adult with a soul-crushing job and student loan payments and lower back pain. /bitterness

27. Annie (1982)

What little girl didn't know every syllable of "Tomorrow"?  I watched this movie obsessively, and I remember being really excited when I heard the news that they were making a TV version (sadly I also remember that being a giant letdown).  I'm not sure if I should mention this, because it might ruin my street cred, but I definitely had the soundtrack to this movie.  I loved Rooster (the beginning of a beautiful relationship between myself and Tim Curry), and was enthralled by Daddy Warbucks' mansion.  Wait.  Warbucks?  OMG was Daddy Warbucks a war profiteer?  My childhood illusions have been destroyed.

26. Matilda (1996)

Another Roald Dahl classic here.  That guy was clearly not hugged enough when he was a kid...he seriously doesn't hold back on the child abuse.  I will always remember this movie for spoiling any illusions that I had of being really really smart - I was so disappointed because Matilda could read when she was something like two or three, and I didn't start reading until I was four.  But back to the movie...Mara Wilson turns in another great cute kid performance.  And Danny Devito and Rhea Perlman are awesome.  But you can't forget the ultimate in evil primary school headmistresses: Miss Trunchbull.  A woman who locks children in a closet with bits of broken glass sticking out of it.  Called The Chokey.  Like I said... Roald Dahl did not get enough hugs.

25. DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990)

Oh I loved this movie so much.  If only for that fantastic theme song.  I loved the genie, and all the ridiculous things the ducklings wished for.  There were some really great adventure sequences that I really enjoyed.  So much fun!  Honestly I haven't seen this film in probably 15 years, but as soon as I hear the theme it totally takes me back.  "Ducktales, woo-oo!"

24. Jurassic Park (1993)

I wasn't allowed to see this when it first came out (to be fair, I was only 5 at the time), but we definitely got it when it came out on VHS, so I can't have been more than six when I first saw it (by the way, thanks for those nightmares, Mom and Dad).  And I watched it all. the. time.  Even after my sister swore that she saw a T-Rex in our front yard.  I have distinct memories of staring out my bedroom window but being careful not to move...because obviously their vision is based on movement.  The coolest thing about this movie is that as kick ass as it was when I was a kid, it still holds up.  I find Jurassic Park as awesome now as I did when I was 6. And that's pretty rare.

23. My Girl (1991)

I think this movie was my first experience with the sad fact that Kids Can Die Horrible Deaths Too.  I don't believe that thought had occurred to me before I saw this movie.  I think most little girls can identify with Vada, and I was no exception.  Doesn't help that Dan Aykroyd totally looks like my dad.  Either way, I was hooked, and I gave bees' nests a wide berth for years to come.  Added bonus: last year I had the pleasure of meeting Anna Chlumsky (Ms Vada herself) at work (the perks of being a casting assistant), and 7 year old me had a bit of a coronary.

22. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

This was a big hit with my family - my mom, my sister, and I always used to watch it.  It was my first real introduction to the idea of divorce, and the fights between Sally Field and Robin Williams made little Audrey uncomfortable and sad.  Mara Wilson had a string of hits when I was a kid, so its weird but out of the entire cast, her and Robin Williams were the only ones with any name value for me.  I remember the scene at the restaurant when his cover is blown was always incredibly stressful for me...I knew it was going to happen and it was going to be incredible awkward when it did happen and I was powerless to stop it!

21. The Parent Trap (1961)

It's a little embarrassing how many times I've seen this movie.  I think Hayley Mills is absolutely amazing in her dual roles, and I just love Maureen O'Hara and Brian Keith as her (their?) parents.  They're all great characters and I love them to death.  To be fair, I did actually like the Lindsay Lohan version from 1998, but for me the 1961 runs laps around it and waves every time it passes by.  I love the twins while they're trying to pass as one another, but they're also pretty great in their dual musical number later in the film, when they're sort of awkwardly providing the entertainment for their parents' date.

20. Home Alone (1990)

This was a movie that for a short time during my childhood that I would watch on VHS, rewind, and immediately watch again.  I loved the idea that some kid who was left behind by his super negligent parents was not only capable of taking care of himself, but outsmarting two would-be burglars.  I think this movie was the first that my mom threatened not to let me watch anymore after I repeated some smart ass comment that Kevin made.  Now that I'm thinking about it, this one might be a cheat, because I can't remember if I watched this movie or Home Alone 2 more may have been the sequel.  Great, now the list is invalidated.  Random thought: does anyone else remember this game?  I totally had this game.

19. Split Infinity (1992) / Rigoletto (1993)

OK, this one is kind of a cheat, but I really wanted to include both these films.  They're both from Feature Films for Families, which is basically a Mormon production company that makes squeaky clean films that kids can watch and not run the risk of devil worshiping or anything like that.  Honestly, I think I had these as a kid because they would call my house, and my mom would think, "Hey, Audrey likes movies, and these people will just send them to me.  Whatever."  I don't think she even knows about their Mormon background (if she did, I probably wouldn't have had the movies.)  But you know what, for movies that don't have even a drop of offensive material...but they're still pretty good films.  Good on you, Mormon filmmakers.

18. That Thing You Do! (1996)

This one is definitely not a kid's movie, but my older sister got it when it came out (big Beatles fan) and we all watched it a lot.  It's a really fun, interesting movie.  I like the gleefulness with which The One-ders (Wonders) navigate their way through the music industry, and Tom Hanks is awesome as their manager.  I had such a crush on Guy, which is weird, because who crushes on the drummer?  And OMG Jimmy was such a doucheface!  And The Bass Player (who shall remain nameless...literally) skipped out on his hit band to go join the army.  Ah, memories.  But word of warning: if you can make it through this film without knowing every single word to the hit song, "That Thing You Do", deserve a medal.

17. Jumanji (1995)

Oh man, I loved this movie so much I had the board game!  And was super disappointed that it wasn't actually alive.  My first real experience with false advertising.  Credit where credit's due, this was a pretty intense and suspenseful kid's movie.  I found all the characters really engaging and I like how it explored the consequences of their actions.  And who doesn't love a good stampede?  I especially love the kid who played little Alan Parrish (and I just found out via IMDB that he was Little Man Tate in Little Man Tate and my mind is blown).  There's such a great sense of innocence to this movie that is pretty rare.

16. The Santa Clause (1994)

Renewed my faith in Santa Claus and Tim Allen in one fell swoop.  And my God David Krumholtz as Barabas Bernard is the coolest (Jewish?) elf EVER.  Seriously, the idea of a surly adolescent head elf is a stroke of genius.  As a kid I always felt so bad that Tim Allen was getting all fat and bearded against his will as he began to turn into Santa, but obviously it's pretty much the best thing that ever happened to him.  And what about Charlie's mom and stepdad?  Not believing in Santa because they didn't get one stupid present that they wanted when they were kids?  What spoiled little brats!

15. 101 Dalmatians (1961)

Strangely, most people don't consider this to be one of Disney's best.  I happen to love it.  For whatever reason, the scene that I always remembered from this film is the one right at the beginning, where Pongo is trying to find a mate for Roger.  He looks out the window and sees a bunch of women walking dogs, and each woman is incredibly physically similar to her respective dog.  I always thought that was awesome.  It's got a fantastic song in "Cruella De Vil" and an even better villain in Cruella De Vil.  Really, when you add in the two Cockney minions, what more could you possibly want?

14. Toy Story (1995)

I said a lot about what this movie meant to me as a child when I reviewed Toy Story back in March.  Long story short, anxious little girl can't sleep at night and needs something to comfort her.  That's what Toy Story was for me.  I can't even remember how many times I've seen it.  Bottom line: When I hear "You've Got a Friend in Me" I go into full on nostalgia mode.  And I love the fact that with the two sequels, Andy and I grew up together.  Fantastic.

13. Beauty and the Beast (1991)

This is the first movie I can remember seeing in the theaters.  I was 3 years old at the time, so clearly it made an impression on me.  Belle was the first Disney princess that I really identified with (I suspect it has something to do with bookworm solidarity).  And I'm prepared to say straight up that if you don't like Lumiere and Cogsworth, you just plain don't have a soul.

12. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

What do you get when you mix equal parts childlike innocence, eccentricity on an almost supernatural level, and childhood-destroying terror?  This guy right here.

Gene Wilder is a wonder, and he plays the character who's sort of...teetering on the edge a little bit, isn't he?  He's a jolly, lovable character, but you also get the vibe that there's something a little bit off about him.  And that goes for the whole movie, really.  Yeah, it's a kid's movie, but it's dark as hell.  The kids act up, and they presumably die as punishment.  And that's a message we can all get behind.

11. It Takes Two (1995)

Yeah, OK, I realize it's lame to have a Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen movie on my list, but you know what?  I don't think that you're an American girl who grew up in the 90s if you didn't watch at least one Olsen twins movie.  So there.  This, along with Toy Story, was a movie that really calmed me down when I was feeling anxious as a kid.  I have very fond memories of this one.

10. Angels in the Outfield (1994)

Embarrassing true story: when I was a kid, I saw this movie in theaters.  At the end, when little Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the rest of the crowd stand up and do the angel arm gesture, legend has it that I stoop up in the theater and started flapping my arms.  I have no recollection of this, but the story certainly turns up at family parties often enough.  Putting that aside, this is a heartwarming little story about an abandoned kid who prays for the Angels to win the World Series so that his father will un-abandon him.  Excuse me while I go cry my eyes out for the next 8-10 years.

9. Aladdin (1992)

If you held a gun to my head and asked me to think of one thing in Aladdin that isn't awesome, I don't know that I could.  You've got great songs, memorable characters, a grand and exotic setting, a magnificently evil villain, and...Gilbert Gottfried.  OK, maybe I can think of one thing that wasn't awesome.  Just kidding, actually I kind of love Gilbert Gottfried as Iago.  Nope, for my money Aladdin is a near perfect Disney film, and it's a hell of a lot of fun.  I mean, this is even before Robin Williams relentless impression schtick got old.

8. Heavyweights (1995)

There was a time not so long ago when I could quote literally every single line in this movie.  An underrated classic of the early 90s.  Ben Stiller turns in a performance oddly reminiscent of his character in Dodgeball...only way awesomer.  He's the fiendish, fitness obsessed manager of a fat camp.  Tell me that isn't a recipe for cinematic success.  On top of Ben Stiller, there's also a veritable army of fantastic supporting characters.  The campers, the counselors...they're all unique and hilarious.  On a darker note, this movie created a rift within my extended family, when my beloved VHS copy of Heavyweights was tragically stolen by an unknown relation who has yet to step forward and claim responsibility.  Further investigation pending.

7. The Mighty Ducks (1992)

To my childhood mind, this is what Emilio Estevez is famous for.  Not The Breakfast Club or anything else.  First of all, I grew up in a hockey town, so this type of sports movie is pretty close to my heart.  It's a classic underdog story, with the likeable poor kids working their asses off and coming head to head with the entitled rich douche nozzles of the Pee Wee hockey league.  And the subplot of Emilio Estevez coming to terms with his past is actually surprisingly heartwarming.  And if you don't get all revved up at the Quack Quack Quack war chant, just do not have the heart of a Duck.

6. Hook (1991)

Look, I really don't care that this addition to the Peter Pan mythology is pretty silly.  I don't care that Dustin Hoffman insists on chewing up all the scenery, or that Julia Roberts is painfully miscast as Tinkerbell, or that OMG Robin Williams is in tights and when he becomes Pan he inexplicably begins to wear frankly inexcusable amounts of guyliner.  Because you know what?  It's magical.  I love the Lost Boys, but there's a special place in my heart for Pan's children.  Peter Pan is one of my favorite stories, and I find this to be such an interesting and fresh interpretation of the source material, I can't help but love it.  And I adore the story of why Peter Pan decided to grow sweet.

5. Peter Pan (1953)

Speak of the devil and he doth appear.  As I said, I was a huge fan of Peter Pan when I was a kid, and of course that includes the Disney cartoon version from the 1960s.  Like any children's story worth its salt, Peter Pan is dark, psychological, and more complex than it seems.  While the Disney version plays down these elements (after all, it is still Disney), it's nevertheless a fun and enjoyable adaptation.  It does have the unfortunate Indian stereotypes running around (complete with Indian feathers and...Indian pot?), but screw it, it's meant to be a reflection of a child's imagination, so I can forgive it.  Overall two thumbs up, although the voice actor for Peter is pretty's clear why they usually have a woman play Peter.  But most importantly...Nana's the shit.

4. Casper (1995)

Casper...what a creeper.

Oh I loved this one.  The house was so cool and creepy, Christina Ricci was great as the maladjusted teenager (seriously, did she play anything else in the 90s?), and her relationship with Casper is just so wistful and heartbreaking.  The other ghosts are kind of whatever, a little too silly and slapsticky for seven year old me's discerning tastes, but I love Carrigan and Dibbs, the would-be robbers of Whipstaff Manor.  Cathy Moriarty's awesome.  And I will say that I totally had a crush on little Devon Sawa as human!Casper at the Halloween dance...I was devastated when he turned back into a blobby little ghost.  Actually, now that I think of it, everything in that dance scene is sweet and perfect and oh-so-90s.

3. A Little Princess (1995)

I don't have words to express how much I love this film.  First and foremost, Alfonso Cuaron has made an absolutely gorgeous film.  It's adapted from one of my favorite stories from one of my favorite childhood authors.  Liesel Matthews puts in a really rather amazing performance as Sara Crewe.  And it is physically impossible for me to make it through the scene at the end of the film when Sara is begging her father to recognize her without crying.  It's impossible.  I've tried and I just can't do it.

2. The Sandlot (1993)

I firmly stand behind the fact that if you were alive in the 1990s and didn't see this movie, you did not have a childhood.  It's kind of odd though, because in my various conversations about this film (yes, my acquaintances and I frequently discuss The Sandlot) I've noticed that it's biggest fans are girls, while most guys are pretty ambivalent.  I mean, not to perpetuate stereotypical gender roles, but...well, I thought it was interesting.  I love the poor overachieving Scotty Smalls, who is so eager to please and he just wants the neighborhood boys to like him.  I love Hamilton "The Babe" Porter.  And what girl did not have a crush on Benny "The Jet" Rodriquez?  Favorite scene, though: when the rich kids show up at the sandlot and exchange insults with our guys, only to be struck speechless when Ham blurts out, "You play ball like A GIRL!"  Classic.
1. The Secret Garden (1993)

I have seen this movie so many times, I have the advert for Thumbelina memorized to this very day just because it was one of the trailers at the beginning of the VHS tape.  That's dedication.  It's such a great story, and it's absolutely beautifully filmed, and the director coaxed such wonderful performances from the three child actors.  I'm so pleased that Andrew Knott and Kate Maberly are still acting, because they really do a great job here.  I've never really had much of an interest in gardening, but whenever I watch this movie, it kind of makes me want to have a garden.  And I love the development of Mary and Colin as the movie progresses, and I love Dickon as the steady Yorkshire lad, and I love Dame Maggie Smith just on principle.  Gah!  There's just too much to love in this film!  You all better get out of here before I start vomiting rainbows and butterflies.

So those are my Top 30.  What were your favorite movies as a kid?  Any other kids who grew up in the 90s and think I'm missing out on any classics?

The Top 1000 Journey will continue its regularly scheduled programming on Monday, with American Graffiti!

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Luke said...

I always felt like The Sandlot Kids was a more family-friendly version of Stand By Me. Both were awesome... I think I'm more a child of the '80s than the '90s, but I've pretty much seen and loved most of these movies anyway!

Jean La Fossé said...

I share 24 out of those 30 with you. Half of them were my sisters fault. I hated The Land Before Time so much...but my sister loved it. Couldn't stand every time they screamed. Saw Angels in the Outfield a couple of years after it was released on VHS. Ever since the first time I saw it I've been doing the angel gesture thing on that part and I'm not ashamed!

Great post. Very genuine.

Audrey on a Mission said...

Thanks! I tried really hard to include the movies that I watched and loved, rather than just the ones that were super popular or critically acclaimed. :)

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