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As a child, I did many things most kids wouldn’t find interesting, one being that I watched classic, old movies. I grew up watching movies from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, but my absolute favorite decade for movies has to be the 80’s. There are so many classics from this time and I wanted to share some of my favorites with you. 


As a Gen Z, I feel like I have a unique view on these movies. Since I wasn’t alive when they first came out, I do not know what it was like to live with the norms of society that were portrayed in these films. However, even in our current era, I believe these stories are powerful enough to resonate with today’s audience. 


Below is my guide to the best 80’s movies for Gen Z to watch:


1. Back to the Future


By far, my favorite 80’s movie, and maybe my favorite movie of all time, is Back to the Future. The plot of this movie is about a boy from the 80’s who takes a time machine back to the 50’s, where he meets his parents as teenagers and messes with the past to make the future change. The film shows how the little things we do can have such big impacts on the future. There is a great parallel of the same town from the 80’s and the 50’s which shows us how much things have changed. About 40 years later, it is even more shocking to see how much society has changed from generation to generation. 


2. The Breakfast Club


Of all the movies on this list, I feel like this is the one that is still the most relatable today. The Breakfast Club shows the story of five very different high school kids who come together one Saturday morning for weekend detention. Each student is from a different school clique, and they each have different home lives and backgrounds. Despite this, they learn how to get along and understand each other despite their differences. Stereotypes and cliques are still prevalent in schools, so the message of acceptance this movie shares is a lesson we can still learn from today. 


3. Sixteen Candles


Sixteen Candles is about a misunderstood high school girl, who is a bit nerdy. Her entire family forgets her 16th birthday because of the craziness surrounding her sister’s upcoming wedding. To further complicate things, she has a crush on the popular boy in school, but he doesn’t know. By the end of the movie, she is still misunderstood by her family, but she finally gets the guy. Although this is the typical “nerd gets the popular guy” story which is kind of sexist and dated – it has a good message. The message is that being a teenager is rough, no matter what the pressures of society are at the time, and the same stresses continue to prevail. 


4. Dirty Dancing 


Dirty Dancing is a great example of a coming of age movie. It’s the story of a young, shy, and naive girl’s summer at a resort. Here, she gets involved with the older and rebellious workers. As the girl slowly opens up and becomes more confident and comfortable with herself, she starts dancing with the group of workers in their new and raunchy style. Although her parents don’t approve of the girl she becomes, she is able to break open her shell and grow into herself. This is a great message about being yourself and not letting anyone or anything hold you back. 


5.  Can’t Buy Me Love 


This movie is a perfect example of a “nerd to popular kid” story. In Can’t Buy Me Love the main character is a huge nerd at school and frequents with the geeks. He pays a popular girl, who he has a crush on, to pretend to be his girlfriend so he can become popular; and to his surprise it works! He becomes popular overnight, but in doing so loses everything he had. He changes into a completely different person, and it takes hitting rock bottom for him to find himself again. When he transforms back to his original self, the cliché nerd, the popular girl that had originally helped him, falls in love with him for real. The message of this story is still relevant today, which is that you don’t need to be popular or pretend to be something you are not for people to like you. The people who want to be in your life will appreciate you the way you are. 

Julianne is a Junior at Adelphi University. She is a mathematics major and in the STEP education program. She is apart of the Her Campus, GSA, and Future Teacher's Association clubs at her university. She likes to write, bake, and travel.
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