I think I speak for most dads when I say I want to raise well-rounded kids. In addition to studying traditional subjects like English or math, they should also have a rich and varied cultural education, am I right? As the current steward of my children’s schooling during COVID-19, I take this responsibility seriously.
So, with all the time in the world on my hands, a captive audience, and absolutely nowhere to go except between the snack shelf and the couch, I figure now is the perfect opportunity to show these kids what good entertainment really looks like.
I may not know Common Core, but I do know some pretty bangin’ movies from the ’90s.
The following list is for those of us dads who grew up in the decade of Super Soakers and Nickelodeon’s Gak Splat, and are feeling pretty nostalgic for the simple pleasures of Yomega yo-yos and Nintendo Game Boys . . . maybe sans the frosted hair tips, though.
So go ahead and plop some cushions on the living room floor, turn off the lights (lava lamp optional), grab a pack of Gushers or your Bubble Jug of gum, and settle in for some good old-fashioned entertainment.
If the kids put up any resistance, just tell them to “talk to the hand” and remind them they don’t have to get their parents to drop them off at Blockbuster or experience the heartbreak of reaching for an empty VHS cover just to find all the copies behind it rented out.
The best part of all?
I bet you’ll enjoy these movies even more now through their eyes.
Note: You can find most of these choices on either Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or HBO Go/HBO Now to rent or buy.
For the (PG) thrill-seekers and adventurers:
Hook – What if Peter Pan grew up? You can’t go wrong with the all-star cast (Hello Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, and Julia Roberts!) of this live-action Peter Pan sequel directed by Steven Spielberg. Kids will love the swashbuckling, but maybe keep any off-screen swordplay to the backyard to avoid dirty looks from mom. (Available on Netflix.)
3 Ninjas – An old-school flick every boy loved growing up—I think we all secretly wished we had a grandpa like Mori Shintaro to teach us Ninjutsu. There’s also a really good lesson here about using martial arts as a form of defense rather than aggression (Available on Amazon Prime Video.)
The Indian in the Cupboard – Based on the fantasy novel of the same name by Lynne Reid Banks, this movie totally sucked me in as a kid with the fun characters, heartwarming themes, and special effects. It would be fun to read the book together, then watch the movie. (Available on Amazon Prime Video.)
Jumanji – It kind of feels like we’re all trapped in the Jumanji board game right now, but here’s another Robin Williams classic with an enchanting mix of comedy, magic, and thrills. A quintessential ‘90s movie that no ’90s kid will ever forget, but it might be a little intense for the really little ones. (Available on Amazon Prime Video.)
For the sports fans in training:
A League of Their Own – There’s no crying! There’s no crying in quarantine! One of my all-time favorite Tom Hanks movies, I think we all know it’s not really about baseball. This one might appeal to the slightly older crowd, but it’s loosely based on real events and people, so put it on and get credit for history class, too. (Available on Amazon Prime Video.)
The Mighty Ducks – This might be a good pick if quarantine has you about to “quack.” Who would have thought you’d ever cheer for a pee-wee league hockey team made up of misfits and delinquents? If anyone is going to set them straight, teach them about teamwork, and take them to victory in the championship, it’s Emilio Estevez. (Available on Amazon Prime Video.)
Space Jam – I mean, who doesn’t love this iconic ‘90s movie? I was mesmerized by everything from the opening track of “I Believe I Can Fly” (although maybe not the best time to talk to your kids about R. Kelly) to the Charles Barkley confessionals to Lola Bunny kicking some tail, to the intense human/cartoon basketball games and the Bill Murray cameos. You can’t go wrong with this one. (Available on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.)
Angels in the Outfield – “We’re always watching.” I don’t think I’ll ever forget the iconic scene in this movie when Mel Clark is pitching for the Angels in the final game against the Chicago White Sox, and he’s completely out of gas, but Roger gets up and starts waving his arms and the whole stadium joins in. Chills! Plus, it’s pretty funny to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a kid. (Available on Amazon Prime Video.)
Feel-good funnies that everyone will enjoy:
The Sandlot – This could easily be classified as a sports film, but I would consider it more of a coming of age story about being the new kid and finding friendship, with the requisite adventures and mishaps along the way. (Available on Amazon Prime Video.)
Baby’s Day Out – I mean, the premise of this movie is basically every parent’s worst nightmare, but as a kid, I thought it was pretty entertaining. However, it does call into question why there isn’t a single adult in the city who encounters Baby Bink and thinks this whole scenario is out of the ordinary. (Available on Amazon Prime Video.)
The Little Rascals – What happens when you’re trying to woo the love of your life but your meddling friends try and interfere? Too bad there isn’t a “He-Man Woman Hater’s Club” for grown-ups, am I right? (Just kidding, dude.) Bonus fun: have your kids try and recreate Alfalfa’s hair in the bathtub. (Available on Amazon Prime Video.)
The Parent Trap – Great for the girl dads. Arguably Lindsay Lohan’s best film effort, made when she was still so young and sweet and innocent. I mean, give her some credit—she had to play both roles! This movie sparked almost universal hatred for Meredith Blake, as well as the wild imaginations of kids around the world who fantasized about being separated at birth from an identical twin. (Available on Amazon Prime Video.)
For animal lovers:
Beethoven – At least in quarantine, no one has to change their pants if a dog slobbers on them, right? A classic pet film that everyone in the family can enjoy. Ironically, I found myself relating way more to Steve Martin’s character this go-round. (Available on Amazon Prime Video.)
Free Willy – Play the opening chords of Michael Jackson’s “Will You Be There,” and any real ‘90s kid can tell you exactly what movie this is. Bonus: picking up on things you totally didn’t when you were younger, like the fact that the actress who plays Kit Keller in A League of Their Own also plays Willy’s trainer. (Available on Amazon Prime Video.)
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey – Shadow, Chance, and Sassy are one of my favorite trios of all time. As a kid, I loved that the live-action film used real animals, but the human-voiced dialogue between them is fantastic. (Available on Amazon Prime Video.)
Babe – “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.” Need I say more? (Available on Amazon Prime Video.)