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The last time my 3-year-old was home sick from school, I ran out of kids’ movies to watch and wound up showing her a good chunk of “Dirty Dancing.” I knew it wasn’t age-appropriate for my preschooler, but the whole Penny-needs-an-abortion plot went right over head, and she was totally riveted by the dance numbers. Bonus: Mom didn’t have to sit through “Beauty and the Beast” again.

I may have to wait a few more years (or a decade), but here are 10 other memorable ’80s movies that I’m excited to share with my daughter:

1. “Valley Girl”


This modern day Romeo and Juliet story features hilarious lingo (Grody to the max!), a swoon-worthy young Nicolas Cage and the greatest falling-in-love montage I’ve ever seen, set to Modern English’s “I Melt With You.”

Positive message: Don’t do what your friends think you should do. Follow your own heart.

2. “Sixteen Candles”

The awkwardness of high school is perfectly captured in this John Hughes classic about a 16th birthday gone wrong, then very right. Sure, there’s some casual racism I’d have to explain away, but the rest of the movie holds up beautifully.

Positive message: The regular girl is just as worthy of love as the prom queen, so be yourself.

3. “The Karate Kid”

I love a good underdog story, especially one featuring the unforgettable friendship between Ralph Macchio’s Daniel-san and his mysterious mentor, the karate master Mr. Miyagi, who trains him to take down the high school bully.

Positive Message: Never give up! Hard work pays off (wax on, wax off). Also, gotta love a movie where the main girl’s sexiest outfit is a headband and cardigan.

4. “The Princess Bride”

This quirky fairy tale adventure is a timeless classic with all the elements a kid could want: a beautiful princess, swashbuckling pirates, a gentle giant and Rodents of Unusual Size. Not showing it to my daughter would be inconceivable!

Positive Message: Be brave and have hope. Also, trust your elders on their book recommendations—wasn’t Fred Savage glad he let Peter Falk finish telling the story?

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