I was more than a little shocked this week when I heard that the New York Film Festival was offering a special screening to commemorate the 25th anniversary of The Princess Bride. Not to say that the film doesn’t deserve it, but has it really been 25 years? Granted I was the ripe old age of 1 when the movie came out, but in the years that followed, The Princess Bride became one of those treasured classics I grew up with and still turn to even now when I need a healthy dose of nostalgia. No matter when you were born, there are liable to be a handful of films that helped shape who you are and bring back those fond memories of childhood. They may not be the best or most critically acclaimed of all time, but regardless, they serve a greater purpose of evoking powerful emotions that many of Hollywood’s more recent ventures would be hard-pressed to challenge. Here’s a few of my own time-honored favorites that deserve watching (or in my case, never-ending re-watching):
Obviously, the aforementioned The Princess Bride, gets the top spot here. Besides boasting a fantastic cast of truly great character actors, Rob Reiner’s classic transcends time and keeps its relevance today mainly because it offers something for everyone. A bit of humor, some romance, action and of course, insanely quotable lines (If I ever meet Mandy Patinkin, yes I will ask him to say “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”) The whole movie teeters on the line of cheesy, but never crosses it as it is wholly aware of its identity as a fairy-tale farce. Throw in the fact that it’s got Andre the Giant, and it’s pure movie gold.
It catapulted the careers of a hobbit, an Oscar nominee, and, well, Corey Feldman, but Richard Donner’s 1985 The Goonies is the ultimate ode to being a kid. An adventure for the ages complete with an eclectic set of friends, laughable thugs, and peril aboard a pirate ship, this movie ages like a fine wine. While Donner took the helm for this one, you can feel writer/producer Steven Spielberg’s comforting and wholesome influence in almost every scene. If anything, I give this one credit for spawning a more recent hit. There’s a reason many critics called J. J. Abrams fantastic kid-centric adventure Super 8 a nod to Spielberg nostalgia.
Ever a child of the ‘80s, the list is not complete without Jim Henson’s 1986 Labyrinth. It’s almost hard to believe that Jennifer Connelly went from acting with muppets to winning an Oscar, but man, that’s a fantastic career trajectory if I’ve ever seen one. There are too many aspects I love about this movie to list (original songs by the Goblin King himself, David Bowie, doesn’t hurt), and even more questions (Should there really be sexual tension between Bowie and a character that’s supposed to be 16?) but there’s a reason Jim Henson was a genius and master at his craft. I dare you not to fall in love with this one, even if it is begrudgingly.
There are so many more that come to mind when I think of my favorite movies as a kid. I fondly recall dressing up like the Ghostbusters with my brother and swearing that we would indeed have flying cars and hoverboards by 2015 (So far, still a pipe dream. Thanks a lot, Back to the Future II). These are the movies that continue to stick in my brain, as I’m sure they will for many years to come. Many movies come and go, but they inevitably remain the undisputed champions. Which ones are yours?