Well, friends, it looks like we are all hunkered down for a while and need to start some serious brainstorming about how we’re going to pass this time. Parents with littles are probably scrambling to think of sensory activities and how to get them to burn all the extra energy bottled up in those tiny bodies. But what about parents with tweens and teens? They are also stuck inside, and even the grumpiest of adolescents might come to their mom and after a couple of days and say, “I’m bored. Want to do something?”
So here’s your chance, Mom and Dad. They have nowhere to go and no nowhere to be. It’s the perfect opportunity to expose them to the gloriousness that was 90s cinema. The global novel coronavirus pandemic of 2020 can be forever known as the time you showed your kids the ingenuity of a little blonde boy whose house was about to be robbed. Or taught them four decades of American history through the eyes of a man who just kept running.
So grab your angsty teen, turn off all the Snapchats, and start scrolling through Prime or Netflix or wherever vintages movies are stored. I mean, we’re supposed to homeschool right now, anyway, so let the real education begin.
1. The Mighty Ducks
Every kid needs to see a good, heartwarming story of grit and perseverance. A story of true sportsmanship and what it means to be a real “winner.” Let The Mighty Ducks be that movie for your teenager who might be in the throes of competitive sports. (Or, even more intense, competitive social circles.)
If nothing else, do this for the 90s teen inside you who had posters of Leonardo DiCaprio all over your room. There’s no better balm when the world is falling apart than a good old-fashioned love story. Also, since it feels like we’re all on the proverbial Titanic right now anyway, this one’s kind of fitting.
Related: Why I Loved Being a Teen in the 90s
3. The Sandlot
Friendship. Courage. Loyalty. This one’s got the stuff. We all want our children to be Benny, or at least have a friend like Benny. The good one who befriends the new kid, is a leader, and does the right thing—even if it’s hard. And even if it involves a terrifying dog who might eat you. There are so many good lessons in The Sandlot, so make sure this one’s on your list.
4. Jack (or really any Robin Williams film, tbh)
Jack is different, and the world treats him as such. Our kids may find themselves unsure of how to handle it when a child who is “different” comes into their school or classroom. Jack will show them how to have empathy and that they can actually learn quite a bit from befriending that boy or girl who may not look or act like they do.
(Also recommended: Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook — Just make sure your kids get exposure to the heart and genius of Robin Williams like we did.)
Hey kids, you think your teachers are mean? Meet Mrs. Trunchbull, and you’ll never whine again. But more than prove that point to your tweens, Matilda is a story of true courage and love, and how anyone can rise up out of their circumstances and make a fulfilling life for themselves.
6. My Girl
Get out the tissues, because this one’s a tear-jerker. But it’s also a story about friendship, and how even after a heart-breaking loss, the sun shines again into the cracks in your heart to help you heal.
7. Home Alone
Need a good laugh? Watch Home Alone with your kids. The end.
8. 1o Things I Hate About You
You get extra educational points for this one because it’s actually a modernization of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. So your kids can do a compare/contrast if they’ve read the play! You’re welcome. And it shouldn’t be too hard to convince them to sit through this as it’s chockfull of teen stuff—love, sex, high school drama. Check, check, check.
9. Forrest Gump
Your teens are old enough to appreciate true classics, and really is there anything that even remotely compares to Forrest Gump? In one flick, they learn about overcoming an abusive home life, what true love and friendship looks like, but also get a quick lesson on the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, drug epidemic of the 70s and 80s, AIDs virus, and shrimping industry. This movie is a history course all on its own.
10. Free Willy
Warning: Your kids will never want to visit SeaWorld again after seeing this, but it’s important they understand that animals are often mistreated for our viewing pleasure. This one teaches a powerful lesson of courage as well as touches upon the challenges of kids in foster care.
Now that there are a couple of sequels to this classic, it’s definitely time to show your kids the original Jumanji—the board game version. What Jumanji meant to us, before The Rock and Jack Black changed everything. (And then enjoy the second and third one because they’re actually pretty good too.)
12. Jurassic Park
Same goes for this one. There is no JP like #1. The shaky water in the glass. The guy getting eaten while sitting on the toilet. Seriously, there are a lot of versions out there but this one’s the OG, kids.
So there you have it—12 fab 90s movies to help pass the time over the next few weeks when we’re all house-bound. If only we could hit up a Blockbuster and pop them into the VCR for the real 90s experience . . . But sadly, we’ll have to settle for Netflix or Prime or Disney+ and call it good. We can still pop some popcorn and snuggle up together though, so at least not everything has changed.
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