Amazing ’80s Movies That Are Tough to Watch As a Mom

I couldn’t wait until my kids were old enough for me to start sharing some of the awesome movies I grew up with. “This one is sooooo good,” I would promise them on Friday Family Flick Froyo night (yeah, that’s a lot of F words). Let me tell you what else has a lot of F words — some of the PG movies I watched as a kid! Some of these movies are also just too scary or too sexy for kids (or at least my kids) …only I didn’t realize it until I watched them again through “mom” eyes. Here are the ’80s flicks that had me squirming in my seat when I watched them with my kids.

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
I’ve tried to show this movie to my kids multiple times. I mean, it’s one of the greatest movies of all time, right? I had a plush ET with a red finger when I was a kid, and I loved that ugly-cute little alien so much. But when I showed it to them, they were scared out of their minds as soon as Elliot and Gertie were doing the suspenseful walk to see what had landed in their shed. They didn’t even get to the part where Elliott and E.T. are drunk. I’ve tried to fast forward some of the scarier parts, but the heart-wrenching story has just been too much for them to bear.

Kids just don’t have the same kinds of adventures us ’80s kids did back in the day when the only entertainment was going outside and making up rad stuff to do (wow, I sound old). And the ultimate kid adventure is Mikey, Mouth, and the gang trying to find hidden pirate treasure before the villainous thieves do. What I had forgotten about was all the cursing the kids did and how scary the Ogre was! Between that, the dead body, and the skeletons, my kids were out.

Troop Beverly Hills
A movie about a high-society mom leading girl scouts into nature — that has to be innocent fun, right? And Phyllis Nefler rocked the wildest ’80s outfits ever! What I didn’t remember was that one of the moms in the troop is a Harlequin romance writer and speaks the hot scenes she’s writing into her portable cassette recorder (high-tech, ha!). Also, when Phyllis thinks her estranged husband is having an affair, she spies on the mistress, lamenting about her big boobs (cue the camera zooming in on the mistress while porn music plays). I hid my face under a blanket.

I never thought the cheesy special effects would be that scary, and I wanted to show them what I meant whenever they asked me “Who are you calling?” and I’d reply, “Ghostbusters!” Besides the language (I mean, who am I kidding, my kids have heard it all by now I’m sure), they could not get past the first ghost scene in the library! When that ghost librarian shows up, they screamed “Turn it off!!” I guess the ’80s special effects, as silly as they look to us, are still quite scary. It’s probably good we didn’t get to the scenes I had forgotten about where two dogs attack and possess people and one possessed woman says “I want you inside me” to one of the main characters. We’ll just have to keep singing the theme song for now.

The Great Outdoors
All I remembered about this movie before showing it to my kids was the funny racoons, the chasing of the bat scene, and John Candy as Chet Ripley being slapstick comedy gold. I had forgotten what a smart-ass Harry’s brother Roman is. There’s a scene when Chet is unstrapping his wife’s bra and his brother is filming it. Awkward! And another when Roman’s wife eludes to the only time she gets pleasure is when she sits on the dryer. Serious facepalm.

Adventures in Babysitting
I wanted to be Elizabeth Shue in that opening dance number. How cute is she!? Letting the kids watch this one was entirely my (and not the rating’s) fault. If I had remembered it was actually PG-13, I would have reserved it. I told the kids they could watch it when we were out on a date, and our poor sitter told us when we got home that it was pretty uncomfortable. It was a much racier, violent movie than I had remembered.

It turns out that many ’80s movies were released before the PG-13 option was available, so I’ve finally learned my lesson and  no longer rely on my memory. I learn what elements a movie has in it from other parents on Maybe when my kids are 25 I’ll enjoy Sixteen Candles and Breakfast Club with them.