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Like many of you that may be reading this, I grew up in the 80s with some of the best movies ever made. I credit these movies I watched as kid with helping to shape my sense of adventure and desire to explore.
I often look back on my youth and wonder where this sense of adventure is for today’s youth. Granted I’m not a kid anymore, but it seems like the movies that are out now and the video games that are produced, aren’t equating to kids being inspired enough to get outdoors and pretend. Yes, pretend. It’s how it all started for me. From the day my parents moved to Texas when I was 6, I immediately met friends who I’d argue with on who got stuck being the fat kid from Stand By Me and who got to lead our adventures through the creek. We’d spend every daylight hour away from our homes learning and exploring.
Yes, there was the coolest game console ever produced, original Nintendo, but for some reason, being outdoors was more important most days. That fat kid from Stand By Me is actually quite fit today, by the way.
We certainly live in different times and many would argue the streets aren’t as safe for kids as they once were, but I digress. Since this article is about classic movies that will shape your sense of adventure, share these as you can with the youth of today. Explain to them what it’s like to explore and how important it is. Introduce them to the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts and encourage them to be adventurous!
As a disclaimer, this is my list, there are many like it, but this one is mine. I’m sure everyone has their own list of what they’d consider to be the top 25 movies that shaped their sense of adventure, so feel free to share your list in the comments below. It’s impossible for me to rank these, so they’re listed in random order below.
25 Classic Movies That Shaped My Sense of Adventure
By far one of my favorite movies, if I had to pick one movie that shaped my sense of Adventure the most, I’d have to say Goonies did it for me. The journey was epic and I still yearn to discover my own loot, just like Mikey did on One Eyed Willy’s Ship. Following a long lost treasure map, the unlikely companions stumble across the coast of Oregon in search of buried treasure that will keep their homes from being bulldozed to make room for a golf course. With the Fratelli Gang hot on their trail, the group faces peril with every step. Let’s just get this out of the way, nothing beats the Truffle Shuffle!
Following the adventures of David, a normal kid who goes missing in 1978, only to reappear in 1986, was like living a fantasy for me. Beaming off in a space ship that I controlled, led to many refrigerator box constructed spaceships for me. I collected every old switch I could and disassembled household electronics, much to the disappointment of my parents.
While I certainly watched the other Star Wars movies religiously growing up, Return of the Jedi was the first I actually saw and why it’s probably still my favorite to this day. The adventure in Return of the Jedi has always stuck with me more than the other movies in the Trilogy. Jabba’s Palace, escaping death, Speeder Bikes (I still want one and hope to live long enough for that to happen), Endor Forest and the Ewoks, what’s not to love? On a side note, does anyone else think that the camouflage that the Rebels wear on Endor looks like A-TACS?
Yet another movie that inspired me want to build a spaceship. It also fueled my desire to tinker and create. What’s better than watching and alien-obsessed kid read comics, watch monster B movies and play Galaga while dreaming up his next invention? You can’t beat the spaceship they craft together and actually get to work. A kid can dream, can’t he?
Speaking of dreaming, who didn’t grow up wanting a friendly space-alien to hang out with like E.T.? The story line is awesome, with the kids trying to hide E.T. from adults and helping the crazy little alien construct a way to phone home. What happened to Drew Barrymore anyway?
One of my all-time favorites. Mystery, suspense and action; all through the eyes of a kid. While I never had an imaginary friend like Captain Jack Flack, I always wanted one. Centering around hidden Govt. plans within a video game cartridge, Cloak & Dagger was a movie that brought out my desire for real-life espionage adventures of my own.
A young Matthew Broderick tries to prevent a “Global Thermonuclear War” that he accidentally triggers after connecting to a top-secret government computer, inadvertently pitting America against Russia. It’s amazing to think about all these movies again and realize how many had to do with video games and computers, yet didn’t inspire me to sit in front of them all day. Maybe there’s hope yet for our youth!
A true adventure movie that takes place in the mind of a boy named Bastian. His escape into an ancient story-book finds him as a hero in the magical land of Fantasia. Who can forget the Rock Biter and every kid wanting a Falcor of their own to swoop down and chase their bullies into a trash can.
I think what made Ghostbusters so memorable for me is all the gadgets and converting the old Firehouse into their office. To this day, I still want a fire pole to slide down into a garage and go! Maybe it was the thought that a real job could entail cleaning out ghosts for money and saving the world from giant marshmallow men.
Another fantasy that encourage my sense of adventure and want to explore. A fairly dark movie for being a kids movie back in 1985, Return to Oz had an incredible cast of characters and Tick-Tock was my favorite. While it wasn’t quite a sequel to the original Wizard of Oz, I remember this movie more fondly than the original.
A time traveling DeLorean, mad scientist and chronically late teenager make this a movie still being enjoyed for the first time today. I’m realizing how many of these movies have to do with space/time travel and would definitely say they influenced my interest in electronics and even Skateboarding, although I’m still waiting for my hover-board.
If you haven’t seen Stand By Me, you’re truly missing out. While the summary of this movie doesn’t sound like much, four kids on a journey to find a kid’s body that had apparently been hit by a train, the true adventure they experience is what I remember most. Based on a Stephen King novel, Stand By Me is a classic that will forever live in my memory.”Chopper, sick balls!”
13. Top Gun (1986)
The movie that made every kid want to fly an F-14 for the Navy. Full of reckless behavior, memorable quotes and that one song you have to skip through when listening to the soundtrack.
Another favorite of mine growing up that taught me you could just carry a .45 tucked in your belt and it would stay put. Obviously I learned differently when I started carrying years later. This is one of the more prominent movies that influenced my love of Detectives and my sense of investigation. I can neither confirm nor deny that I carried a toy .45 for a few years in the small of my back during the 80s.
I thought Harrison Ford had the perfect job during this movie, an Archeology Professor that lived to hunt treasure in distant lands. Raiders of the Lost Ark has Adventure at every turn and made me realize there actually is some skill needed to wield a whip.
The first movie I watched as a kid that gave me a glimpse of Navy SEALs. I loved everything about this movie, especially the daring rescue a group of kids manages to pull off to save their SEAL fathers from a North Korean Prison Camp. I’m pretty sure this is where I got the idea to start rappelling off my roof from a tree, much to my Dad’s disappointment.
17. Commando (1985)
While hilarious to think about now, I truly thought everyone in Special Operations must have to look like Arnold, he was that much of a bad ass. Never mind the unlimited bullets he seemed to have, or single handedly defeating an entire South American army encampment with a gypsy camp of guns, rockets and grenades. Oh, and a saw blade. The surplus store “liberation” scene was by far my favorite, with the secret back room that would make the ATF blow a gasket. “Remember when I said I was going to kill you last? I lied…”
A movie that inspired kids everywhere to be able to face their bullies by showing the hidden potential in us all. An average kid from New Jersey moves to California and gets the opportunity to learn from Mr. Miyagi, the Yoda of Karate. You couldn’t help by secretly root for the Cobra Kai Dojo too though. They had the awesome logo and skeleton costumes at the party that blew Daniel’s shower costume out of the water.
One of those movies that I really enjoyed growing up, but don’t quite remember why. I do remember the crazy adventure that the babysitter, played by Elizabeth Shue, gets herself and the kids into. This movie definitely contributed to my overall sense of adventure, even if it did make me a bit hesitant to journey off into the city on my own.
Most probably won’t remember this movie, as it was probably more of a C movie than even a B movie. It featured a penniless private detective trying to run a training school and suckering his one trainee out of all his money. A case ensued which took them on the trail after missing woman the mob had captured and highlighted their bumbling along the way. I’m fairly certain I wanted to open a Detective Agency as a kid because of this movie.
While Ferris wound up in an adventure of different sorts, he had the persona every kid dreams of having. The ability to fool school administrators and his parents at the same time, Ferris had plenty of tricks up his sleeve. I think it’s where I first got the idea to shove pillows under my blanket to make it look like I was still there when I’d sneak out to walk the neighborhood with my friends at night.
A time-traveling adventure perfect to develop a kid’s fantasy. It certainly made me wish that a time hole would open up in my closet and a bunch of dwarves would need my help to grab treasure and defeat evil.
While Gleaming the Cube centered around Skateboarding and featured all the popular Powell-Peralta Bones Brigade skaters of the day, Christian Slater winds up solving a mystery surrounding the death of his adopted Vietnamese brother. A memorable movie that helped spark my love of skateboarding and my thirst for adventure. Not to mention inspiring me to plaster skate posters all over my room.
24. Die Hard (1988)
New York Police Detective John McClane single-handedly defeats terrorism in Nakatomi Plaza after his wife’s Christmas Party is broken up by Hans Gruber and his agenda. McClane moves through the depths of the high-rise building, in inspiring fashion, popping out to give the bad guys a run for their money. This was another cop movie that had me anxiously awaiting adventure to find me as a kid.
25. Predator (1987)
Another Schwarzenegger classic that only increased my love of the military and fighting terror. I didn’t really look at Predator as an alien movie, but as an ultimate battle between good and evil. Classic quotes and overall badassery made this a movie I watched over and over again. It certainly fueled begging my dad for repeated trips to the Army Surplus Store.
What are your top 25 movies that influenced your sense of adventure growing up? Share your own list in the comments below, I’d love to hear what they are!
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Awesome selection of movies...Red Dawn is up there and Patrick Swayze did great. Also, though chessy G.I. Jane was neat.
Ok, are we long lost twins or something? Throw The Holy Grail and Hunt for Red Oktober in there and you pretty much hit it dead center.
Anyone remember 'Miracle Mile', starring Anthony Edwards? I watched that a lot as a kid and thought it was one of the more accurate portrayals of how the hours preceding a nuclear exchange might play-out.
I'll second Gotcha! and throw Iron Eagle, Real Genius and Red Dawn onto the pile. Oh and Weird Science
I think being born in 1977 puts me very close to your age - I watched all of these movies and more until the cassettes would get those horizontal artifacts in the recordings from watching the same parts of the tape over and over....
All except Detective School Dropouts. I missed that one. Thanks for reminding me of 'The Rescue' and 'Cloak and Dagger'.
A couple less-talked-abouts I watched a lot were:
The Last Dragon
The Last Starfighter
Like you, I could go on and on...
I'm a bit older, and saw several of your list as a teen, and agree with many. Some of my all time greats - not just 80's:
How the west was won
The spy who loved me
Every which way but loose
A friend is a treasure
Herbie rides again
Smokey and the bandit
@artofmanliness Arnold's best quote in Commando at least in Spanish : "voy a hacerte talco"
@artofmanliness Thanks for sharing! ^MP
Any love for Short Circuit? Great movie list, though. I haven't seem all of them, but some I watch regularly.
The Monster Squad and Toy Soldiers are two more good ones. Who's Harry Crumb? was one of my favorites for inspiration. And Space Camp!
@ITStactical I'd had to add "white water summer" for a 26th.
The 80's had some great movies, some that I still watch today. The Great Outdoors was our entertainment the other night, and Christmas Vacation is always a favorite around the holidays.
Along the lines of your list I'd agree that you can't put them in an order. Some other notables:
Full Metal Jacket & Platoon (although I didn't see it these until in my early teens in the 90's)
The Lost Boys
The Running Man
Admittedly I went to IMBD for titles. Makes me want to do an 80's movie "book club"!
@ITStactical Stellar list! I would probably throw 'Real Genius' and 'Iron Eagle' on there as well. (well for me that is)
@ITStactical Stellar list! I would probably throw 'Real Genius' and 'Iron Eagle' on there as well.
I'm only 20 but seeing the years that these movies came out makes me feel old! I didn't realize almost all my favorite movies came out before I was even born!
@1666 I think this list also comprises my most heavily quoted movies too LOL!
@CENTCOM_Survivor You wouldn't believe how hard it was keeping this list at 25! Totally agree on those :)
@oakley Great additions! I was actually the same way on Red Dawn as you were on Full Metal Jacket and Platoon. Didn't see it until my teens, but certainly one of my favorites!
@modi321 @ITStactical Iron Eagle was a good one too!
@Barnes Sorry, but reading these is hilarious. It seems for some folks movies didn't exist until the 1980s!
@Barnes The decade that comprised the 80s was a phenomenal time for movies, it seems that after the early to mid 90s kids movies started to go downhill. Yes, that's when I stopped being a "kid" but they just weren't the same.
Red Dawn, yes! WWWWWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLVVVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I still fantasize about seeing commies para-trooping down, and having gather colleagues and coworkers in order to evade and then fight them... Does that make me a douche?