These days, people are obsessed with nostalgia. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, just look at the amount of reboots that have been produced recently or are planned for the future. Everyone loves to look back on their past and to relive some of the good memories they have. Many times people will look back on their childhood to find those blissfully happy moments. For a lot of people, their childhood was a simpler time. Although we can’t return to our childhoods, we can watch nostalgic movies that remind us of what it was like to be a kid. Here are the 15 most nostalgic movies for people of all ages. This list is in no particular order.
What if your parents disappeared for a day? As a kid, this would be a dream come true. At least for a little while. This is an idea that John Hughes depicts in Home Alone. The family comedy is about an eight-year-old troublemaker who must protect his house from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation. The film propelled Macaulay Culkin into the limelight and made him a huge force in Hollywood. Home Alone is a Christmas classic and full of nostalgic moments for anyone who grew up during the 90s.
Space Jam wasn’t the first movie to put cartoon characters into a live-action film. That honor goes to Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988. The film was nostalgic because of the cameos from popular cartoon characters such as Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Daffy Duck. Who Framed Roger Rabbit follows a toon-hating detective who turns out to be a cartoon rabbit’s only hope when he is accused of murder. The film was the first and only time Looney Tunes and Walt Disney characters have appeared together on screen.
The Princess Bride takes the classic damsel-in-distress story and puts a fresh spin on it. The film is known for its hilarious gags, quotable lines, and heartfelt story. The fun fantasy centers around a young boy’s grandfather who tells the story of a farmboy-turned-pirate who encounters numerous obstacles, enemies, and allies in his quest to be reunited with his true love. The Princess Bride had a modest reception in its initial release, but over time the film developed a cult following that grew as time went on. Now, The Princess Bride is a cross-generational fairytale that is nostalgic to those who were fans of the film before it became the classic it is today.
The Goonies is a film that feels directly out of the 80s and as such, feels incredibly nostalgic for those who grew up in that time. However, The Goonies also captures the child-like yearning for adventure that every kid can relate to. The film follows a group of young misfits called The Goonies who discover an ancient map and set out on an adventure to find a legendary pirate’s long-lost treasure. The Goonies is one of the most beloved family movies out there. People who loved the film as a kid will love it as an adult, perhaps even more.
When it comes to nostalgia, few films can compete with the first Jurassic Park movie. The 1993 sci-fi depicts the majesty and wonder in dinosaurs that captivates children. The film is about a pragmatic paleontologist who is tasked with protecting a couple of kids after a power failure leads to a theme park’s cloned dinosaurs running loose. The film’s story, coupled with the animatronic effects, makes it a 90s classic. Steven Spielberg has produced several successful movies, but Jurassic Park may be his most famous.
Being released in 1995, A Goofy Movie was overshadowed by the huge success of Toy Story, which also changed the landscape of animation. A Goofy Movie is one of the most underrated Disney movies of all time. Similar to cult classics, A Goofy Movie has a devoted fanbase that has always kept the film’s reputation alive. For those who remember watching A Goofy Movie as a kid, the film is especially nostalgic. From the animation style to the fashion used, A Goofy Movie is practically a time capsule for the mid-90s.
Who doesn’t love to relive their teen angst every once and a while? The Breakfast Club is one of the most beloved teen movies of all time because it captures the emotional baggage that comes with living in high school society in a fun way. The convincing acting from Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, and the rest of the cast made it easier for people to relate to their characters. The film is about five very different high school students who meet in Saturday detention and discover that they have a lot more in common than they thought. Regardless of your high school experience, you will be able to relate to this film in some way.
Looking for more movies about high school? Check out our list of movies about teenagers from 2021.
Steven Spielberg’s version of Peter Pan is a charming fantasy. Hook puts a spin on the classic Peter Pan fairy-tale by following Pan in his thirties as he lives a normal life. Robin Williams gives a memorable performance as Peter Pan and reminds us of why we loved the character as a kid. The film is about an adult Peter Pan who is forced to return to Neverland after Captain Hook kidnaps his kids. The film is about how you reconnect with your inner child after decades of being an adult, which makes it a fitting addition to our list of nostalgic movies.
What if a gun had a soul, and didn’t want to be a gun? This is the question explored in The Iron Giant. Brad Bird directed the animation and set out to make a deeply emotional story about the decisive moments in our lives where we choose who we want to be. The film is about a young boy who befriends a giant robot from outer space that a paranoid government agent wants to destroy. The Iron Giant is a story that completely immerses you from beginning to end. It’ll make you feel like a kid again, looking for that excitement and wonder you hope to find in life.
When it comes to nostalgic films, there isn’t a lot that beats a coming-of-age film. Coming-of-age stories highlight those crucial moments in our childhoods where we learn mature life lessons and grow closer to being an adult. Stand By Me is one of the best coming-of-age movies out there. Directed by Rob Reiner, Stand By Me follows 4 adolescent boys who go on a journey to find a dead body. River Phoenix, Will Wheaton, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell give amazing performances that capture the essence of being a 13yr old boy.
Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood is the definitive coming-of-age story. Boyhood came out in 2014 but actually began production in 2002. Linklater’s idea for the film was to cast a young boy and to film him annually for 12 years, thus creating the ultimate film about growing up. The film tells the fictional story of Mason from early childhood to his arrival at college. Linklater cast Ellar Coltrane from when he was 6yrs old and worked with him until he was 18. Boyhood is an amazing achievement and is the first-ever film to work with the same cast on the same film for more than a decade.
Even though The Sandlot centers around baseball enthusiasts, it is hardly a sports film. Rather it’s a coming-of-age comedy about the adventures of a group of kids who play baseball in the summer. The Sandlot was not widely popular in its initial release. After the film was released on VHS and DVD, it became a cult classic. Now, the film is iconic and responsible for the popular saying, “You’re killing me, Smalls!” Elements of The Sandlot may seem derivative but for anyone who spent their youth playing games in the backyard with friends, the film hits all of the right notes.
Almost Famous is a nostalgic movie for multiple reasons. First, the story follows a young teenager as he grows, matures, and has many experiences for the first time. Second, the film can be seen as a tribute to rock music in the late 1960s/early 1970s. The film features classic rock songs such as “Sparks” by The Who and received a Grammy for the best soundtrack compilation. Almost Famous is about a teenage boy in the early 1970s who is given the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone about an up-and-coming rock band as he accompanies them on a concert tour. Cameron Crowe, the writer, and director, based the film on his real-life experience as a young Rolling Stone reporter. The authentic approach Crowe used when creating Almost Famous is the main reason it’s one of the best nostalgic movies to watch.
Back To The Future is arguably one of the most well-known movies of all time. With the help of The Terminator, the film created a whole new genre of time travel movies. The story follows Marty McFly, a 17-year-old high school student, who is accidentally sent thirty years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by an eccentric scientist. Back To The Future is set in the 80s and the 50s, which makes it extremely nostalgic for anyone who grew up in those time periods. If you like this film, you’ll want to see the sequel, which takes us into what the director thought 2015 would be like.
Disney is one of the few companies that promotes itself as a producer of nostalgia-inducing content. Films like The Lion King and Finding Nemo are seen as incredibly nostalgic. However, Toy Story is arguably the most nostalgic animation Disney has ever created. The film is about a cowboy doll who is profoundly threatened and jealous when a new spaceman figure supplants him as the top toy in a boy’s collection. Toy Story is not only an adored movie for children and adults, but it also features toys that resemble real-world toys that people had in their childhood.
It’s almost impossible to find a movie that is nostalgic to everyone just like it’s practically impossible for a movie to be universally loved. Nostalgia is subjective and each person can have their own list of movies that invoke heartwarming memories. These 15 films may not all fill everyone with nostalgia but at least a few of them are sure to remind you of a simpler time.
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