Weekend Roundtable: Movies from Your Childhood That Don’t Hold Up

Making a movie that appeals to both children and adults is a tricky business. Looking at them with adult hindsight, it’s unfortunate how many of the movies we loved as kids turn out to be, frankly, not very good. What favorite movie from your childhood do you have to admit doesn’t hold up to adult scrutiny?

Even if you enjoy rewatching it for nostalgia, I’m sure there’s some movie you just can’t deny has a dumb plot, poorly written characters or lousy production values. Maybe you love it anyway, but, objectively, it has a lot of serious flaws. Animated or live-action are both fair game, but we’re looking for movies that were actually intended for kids, not some adult-oriented movie you happened to watch when you were a kid.

Luke Hickman

As a kid, my brothers and I frequently watched ‘Adventures in Babysitting‘. At that time, what kid didn’t want a babysitter as attractive as Elisabeth Shue? Not only was she a highlight, but the title adventure the characters went on was filled with danger and excitement. Since repeat viewings as a kid, I’ve thought back on the movie as a pure piece of nostalgia – that is, until a couple years ago. When I learned that Mrs. Hickman hasn’t seen it, the movie jumped to the top of my Must Watch with the Wife list, but that ended up being a big mistake. Everything that was once great was now old, cheesy and not at all as cool as I remember. The story is bad. The dialogue is atrocious. And what the hell is up with Thor? A piece of my childhood was tarnished. Since then, I’ve done my very best to think of it not the way it is, but the way it was. If you loved ‘Adventures in Babysitting’ too and haven’t watched it in decades, then follow Chris Parker’s advice and “Don’t f–k with the babysitter.” Leave it in the past.

M. Enois Duarte

With so many bad movies to choose from a decade littered with them, this week’s topic is a bit of a challenge. I think I’ll go with ‘The Last Starfighter‘ since I absolutely loved that cheesetacular sci-fi favorite when I was much too young to know any better. From an adult point of view, the movie is hilariously corny with incredibly cartoonish computer-generated effects. Of course, at the time, they were state-of-the-art and impressive for a geeky sci-fi kid like myself. It’s also pretty clear the production was some kind of toy marketing ploy, though I’m not sure what toy line it was actually promoting, other than an arcade game version of the movie, which could be the studio simply capitalizing on a pop-culture trend. Still, I fell in love with the idea that videogames were a testing/recruitment platform for joining an intergalactic alliance. Today, I enjoy watching it for nostalgia’s sake, but sadly, the film just doesn’t hold up very well.

Brian Hoss

Some 15 years ago, after rediscovering ‘Transformers: The Movie’, my friends and I thought for sure it would be great to revisit ‘G.I. Joe: The Movie‘ as well. As it turns out, the tactical importance of the B.E.T. and the threat of Cobra-La just doesn’t resonate on any cool or serious level. There were lots of laughs, but otherwise, I think the movie fails on just about every level.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

As much as I appreciate the artistry and imagination behind ‘The Dark Crystal‘, I haven’t been able to watch it from start to finish since I was a kid. The Chamberlain’s endless “MmmmMMMMMmmMMMMM!”s are just nails on chalkboard to me. I know it sounds ridiculous, but that’s genuinely a dealbreaker for me.

“I hate your whimpering!” indeed.

Josh Zyber

If Brian hadn’t already mentioned ‘G.I. Joe: The Movie’, I would have. I’ll also add that, love it though I still do, 1986’s ‘Transformers: The Movie‘ isn’t a whole lot better. The feature-length toy commercial is goofy as heck and sidelines most of the core characters that kids loved from the TV cartoon to focus on some really annoying new ones such as Daniel and (shudder) Wheelie.

I’m sure I’ll catch some flak for this one from some of our readers, but from an adult perspective, ‘The Goonies‘ is one shrill, obnoxious movie populated by a bunch of annoying brats who spend the entire two hours screaming at each other. An argument can be made that it’s a pretty accurate reflection of how young boys behave, which is probably why those who first saw it at the same age responded so strongly to it, and why the nostalgia for it is powerful enough to cloud better judgment. (I’m a little guilty of that myself.) However, I find it difficult to sit all the way through anymore.

Be honest now. The taste in movies you had as a kid was a bit questionable, wasn’t it? What movie from your youth do you have a hard time justifying as an adult?


  1. Chris B

    Thanks for calling out The Goonies Josh, what an annoying movie. Everyone yelling over everyone else…give me Monster Squad any day of the week. Which happens to be my submission, I loved the movie as a kid and thought Rufy was a total badass. Seeing it as an adult made me shudder at certain scenes. I still like it though and will watch it every few years for nostalgic purposes.

  2. Scott

    Not really from my childhood, but rather from my teen years. I remember thinking at the time that Point Break (the original with Reeves and Swayze) was just one of the coolest things I had ever seen. I mean it had it all, surfing, bank robbing, sky diving, parties on the beach, the kinda hot surfer girl. Then it came out on Blu Ray and I was so amped to watch it again. Man, I wish I hadn’t and could have just remembered it how I did when I was a dumb teenager. I mean wow, talk about a cheesy, drawn out, terrible movie.

    What had I been thinking?!

  3. Csm101

    I can’t think of anything from my really young childhood, but I was about 13 or 14 when Ninja Turtles 2: Secret of the Ooze was released. I knew it was a much lesser movie than the first one, but was still excited to see the turtles back on the big screen and was very happy to own the VHS of it. I’m pretty sure I also had the DVD for it. I was still fascinated with how they were created. A few years ago I purchased the three pack blu for about 10 bucks and tried to watch it. That was pretty painful.

  4. EM

    I’ll quote myself (from a previous roundtable):

    When I was ten, I saw a movie called The Private Eyes in the theater. It was a mystery spoof with horror elements, starring Don Knotts and Tim Conway as bumbling detectives. It was a laugh riot and greatly inspired my imagination, particularly where haunted-ish castles were concerned.

    Maybe five or six years later, the film was going to be broadcast on TV. O happy delight! As was standard operating procedure with Important Cinema in those days, I set up the VCR to tape the movie for my collection. (Yes, I do have a shady past!) As I watched the broadcast, I was dumbfounded by how execrable the movie was. Yet I kept watching, thinking it would get better. It did not. About the halfway mark, I finally regained myself enough to stop recording, rewind the tape (to record over, of course), and—most importantly—get that program off the tube.

    P.S. That Dark Crystal video is hilarious. I felt like I was listening to humpback whales.

  5. plissken99

    Goonies indeed is completely unwatchable. Even as a kid though it wasn’t a favorite. Gotta disagree with Last Starfighter, I recently screened that for my nephew and two neighbor kids, ages 6-10, and all of them thoroughly enjoyed it, as did I! Labyrinth does not hold up so well, it’s outright bad actually.

    All Pauly Shore movies.. I watched and loved most of them as a kid, Encino Man, In the Army Now even Son in Law(Carla Gugino 22 and blone :drool: ). I dare not ever watch those again.. Because I still recall them fondly lol.

    • Chris B

      Lol…I still love Encino Man. It’s one of the first movies me and my wife watched together when we first started dating. It was clear we were meant for each other…

    • Bolo

      I haven’t revisited any of them since I was about 15. I remember finding him really funny as a kid, too. By teenage years, I had kinda outgrown him.

    • Trivia: ‘Encino Man’ is called ‘California Man’ in select European markets (including mine), because the distributor thought ‘Encino’ was too obscure a placename for non-Americans.

  6. Ryan M

    I tried watching The Land Before Time a few months ago after not having seen it since probably the early 90s. I honestly don’t know what I ever saw in it as a kid. Maybe it was the transfer that threw me for a loop (which is awful compared to Disney of the same era), but I also found it really boring. I second The Dark Crystal and The Goonies as well. It’s nice to remember back on those movies, but watching them now is a chore I’d rather not deal with.

    • ‘The Land Before Time’ is still my favorite animated film of all time. I wish Universal would finally spend some cash (they had an excellent 2015, so there’s bound to be some gravy) for a Special Edition. Suggestion for Universal: Don Bluth is still alive. But he won’t live forever. He’ll be 80 next year. Interview him now. Restore the 11 minutes of deleted scenes. Record an audio commentary. Do it.

  7. Bolo

    ‘Rad’, that BMX movie. It’s still enjoyable as 80’s cheese, especially the scene at the big dance where they do disco dancing while on BMX bikes. But it’s not really the most compelling sports drama out there. Some of it seems like it was edited in the wrong order, like how the big training montage comes after the part where hero is finally able to do the trick that has always eluded him.

  8. SuperSugarBear

    Shallow Characters, bad acting, laughably ridiculous creatures, and a ripoff of Flash Gordon…
    Yep. Star Wars. Hate it.

  9. photogdave

    Any movie with a Corey in it is pretty hard to watch now. Except for Gremlins — that movie just improves with age.
    Please Hollywood, no CGI remake!

  10. plissken99

    Thought of another series, the Ernest movies. Ernest Goes to Camp, Ernest Saves Christmas etc. absolutely loved them as a kid. I tried Saves Christmas last December, couldn’t finish it, and I recall it being one of the better movies of his.

  11. William Henley

    I would say any Olsen Twins movie, but I thought they were pretty bad the first time around, but they were even worse on repeat viewings. My little sister was the same age, and ate up some of their early movies. I think the only good movie they made was that Parent Trap movie they made with Steve Guttenberg and Kristi Alley.

    Any Peewee movie is just awful.

    Truthfully, though, I don’t think there are really that many I can think of that don’t hold up. I think I always had higher standards for movies when it came to movies. I never liked The Goonies, Dark Crystal, Labarynth, Adventures in Babysitting, Teen Wolf, He-man, Transformers or GI Joe.

    There is one movie, though, that I loved as a kid that, while its still fun as an adult, I can honestly say its not as good, and that is Star Trek 4. Actually, Star Trek 2-5 (Yes, including Wrath of Khan), and 9-12 are all awful, with the only good Trek movies being 1, 6, 7 and 8, its just that I always thought 2, 3 and 5 were awful, and only recently did I realize how bad 4 is as well. I think I liked 4 as a kid for its humor and relatability, but the movie did not age well at all.

    Now here is an interesting topic for a future round table – how about movies from your childhood that you didn’t think would hold up, but actually do. Two of those come to mind, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures and The Karate Kid. I thought these were going to be awful upon reviewing, and I was pleasantly surprised to revisit them and see that they did indeed hold up. Now Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journeys was awful, but it was always awful.

  12. Chris

    Pretty much anything starring Jean Claude van damme. But long live any Steven Segal movie that wasn’t direct to video

  13. cardpetree

    Space Camp is the first movie that comes to mind. I’m surprised with the Goonies hate. I guess I loved it so much as a kid that I refuse to give up on it but I still enjoy it and actually pop in the Blu ray every once in a while when I’m super bored.

  14. Pedram

    I don’t get all the hate for The Goonies. I think it still holds up, but whatever.

    Most of the movies I loved as a kid I can still rewatch today, so the first entry that came to my mind wasn’t a movie, but a TV show – and that show is Knight Rider. It was my favourite show as a kid so I tried watching it a while back, and it was just plain hard to sit through. It was so campy, and the story of each episode was so predictable: Michael and KITT come across some situation, usually in a small town, where there is some injustice being done to some poor/unfortunate people. Among this group of people was a pretty girl. Michael and KITT would fix the wrong with KITT’s cool abilities and some punches thrown my Michael, and somewhere in there the Hoff would flash some chest hair and probably bang the girl off screen. Lather, rinse, repeat. I could only get through a couple of episodes before I gave up.

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