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The Best Throwback Movies You Can Watch On HBO Max

HBO Max is one of the newest kids on the streaming block, but don't be thrown by the fact that HBO already had a streaming service or two. There's a ton of streaming content available on the service that was not on HBO Go or HBO Now. You might be wondering exactly what is actually on HBO Max. That's where we come in.

We know a lot of people are desperate for "comfort food" movies and shows to watch, and this new streaming service has a lot of options available. Today, we're looking into a few of our favorite "throwback" movies on HBO Max. These are films that invoke a sense of nostalgia — movies that are very much of their time, but will surely bring back fond memories to those who sit down to rewatch them. Grab your comfy blanket and settle in.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

If you love your pizza topped with a heaping helping of nostalgia, you can't go wrong with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We're talking the 1990 version, with the people in the elaborate puppet suits — the way it should be. Although the turtles are very much a product of their time, this first film has aged surprisingly well. It has some pretty impressive fight sequences, is funnier than it has any right to be, and the turtle costumes (designed by Jim Henson's Creature Shop) are really well made.

The film is very much an origin story, touching on the background of the titular turtles as well as Master Splinter, Shredder, and the Foot Clan. It is very much a children's property, owing more to the cartoon than the original black-and-white alt comics, but it doesn't lean as heavily into the juvenile humor of the second and third films. As such, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles doesn't have nearly as many painful moments as so many other "based on a cartoon" movies.

If you want to continue down this path, the sequel and (shudder) the third film are on HBO Max, as is the 2007 animated release TMNT. Cowabunga!

The Goonies

The Goonies is one of those adventure movies for kids that doesn't pull any punches. The Fratellis may get outsmarted time and time again by the plucky group, but they mean business. They intend to hurt and kill these kids, and the sense of danger in the movie is very real — even though you've probably seen it a hundred times and know everything is going to work out.

The Goonies is the story of a group of friends in Oregon who learn that their homes are in danger of foreclosure. They happen upon a pirate treasure map and decide to go on an adventure to find it in order to pay off their families' debts. However, a family of criminals are also seeking the treasure of One-Eyed Willy, and it becomes a race between the Goonies and the Fratellis for all the dubloons.

The Goonies gives all its cast members a chance to shine, and it's well worth watching just to see 14-year-old Sean Astin and 17-year-old Josh Brolin running around together on screen.

The NeverEnding Story

The NeverEnding Story traumatized a lot of kids on its release in 1984. The glowing red eyes of the Gmork. The all-consuming Nothing. Those statues that shot out laser beams. And, of course, the Swamps of Sadness. A lot of panicked, bawling children probably had to be hurried out of theaters as parents realized that Artax wasn't going to get happy all of a sudden.

All that sorrow is part of what makes The NeverEnding Story so magical. All the best fairy tales have serious horror and tragedy in them — it's something that every child understands and can identify with. For all the sadness in the film, there are just as many moments of wonder. Who can forget Falkor, the Luck Dragon? And Stranger Things helped remind us that the film's theme song is an absolute bop.

Few movies are as pure, nostalgic bliss as this story of heroism and hope in the face of sorrow and apathy. If you can get past the inevitable sadness of Artax (it's okay to shed a few tears), The NeverEnding Story is a slam dunk. The not-as-good-but-still-solid sequel is available as well.

Weird Science

Like a lot of movies from the 1980s, Weird Science has some problematic elements. That's why we're talking nostalgia here — it's easy to overlook those things if you've already got a soft spot for it. On top of all that, there might not be a more "'80s movie" movie than this one. Feel free to listen to the Oingo Boingo theme song if you don't believe us.

Here's the premise: two relentlessly bullied high school nerds decide they need a change. To become popular, they use the weirdest science of all (computers!) to bring a doll to life as a sexy lady with magical powers. It literally makes zero sense, but stick with us. "Lisa" uses her powers to create all sorts of items and situations, and hilarity ensues. Of course, everything culminates with a massive party.

Weird Science often gets overlooked in the John Hughes filmography, which is a crying shame. Kelly LeBrock leads a great cast as Lisa, while Anthony Michael Hall (of course) is one of the film's leads. Keep your eyes open for both Bill Paxton and Robert Downey Jr. in supporting roles.

Babe

Babe is a much better movie than a lot of people realize. It may seem like a fairly standard trope: what if animals could talk? However, there is a surprisingly thematic narrative at work here, and Babe holds up really well as a great example of a movie for kids that adults can also enjoy. That mature appeal isn't surprising when you remember that it was co-written and produced by Mad Max creator George Miller.

Babe is the story of a piglet who is raised on a farm by sheepdogs. Since Babe doesn't know any better, he grows up believing he is a sheepdog, too. All the animals on the farm like Babe, so when Farmer Hoggett allows Babe to herd the sheep, they comply. Astounded, Farmer Hoggett enters Babe in a herding competition, but things don't run as smoothly when Babe is off of his farm.

It's a sweet story about hard work and friendship with just a dash of existential darkness, all told with some adorable animal shenanigans. The cast is a solid group of character actors — keep your ears open for Hugo Weaving as the voice of Rex. If you need more sheepdog pigs in your life, you can also stream the surreal sequel Babe: Pig in the City, for which Miller took the helm as director as well. That'll do, HBO Max. That'll do.

A Christmas Story

If you're a fan of A Christmas Story, you've probably seen it about a million times. But you don't have to wait until the TBS Christmas Eve marathon (or sit through an hour of commercials for a ninety minute movie) to relive the story of Ralphie and his quest for a Red Ryder Air Rifle. Load it up on HBO Max and skip to all your favorite parts.

If you're somehow unfamiliar, A Christmas Story is set in a nostalgic vision of the early 1940s and deals with a boy's quest to receive the ultimate Christmas present: an air rifle. He goes through ups and downs in his quest to be good, all while the film's smirking narration lends the journey an air of timelessness. A Christmas Story is basically a series of sketches loosely tied together by an overarching narrative, but its earnestness and general good-natured feel has won it a place in many viewers' hearts.

A Christmas Story is infinitely quotable with a memorable cast, and it has become so ingrained into our holiday culture that it's practically required viewing. Just don't shoot your eye out.

The Last Unicorn

Oh, you want a traumatizing animated film? Take The Last Unicorn for a spin. It seems like this one is often forgotten about when discussing classic, non-Disney animated films, but you've probably seen bits and pieces of The Last Unicorn at some point.

The Last Unicorn is about... well... the last unicorn in the world, who goes on a quest to find out what happened to the rest of her kind and help bring them back into existence. There is plenty of magic, danger, and peril along the way, and more than a fair share of existential crises that the unicorn must face down with the friends she makes along the way. One particularly scarring part of The Last Unicorn is the "carnival" where the unicorn is imprisoned by the witch Mommy Fortuna.

The Last Unicorn has a great voice cast, including Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, and Christopher Lee. It's got beautiful animation, a powerful story about the loss of innocence, and an awesome orchestral soundtrack. Don't miss it.

The Mighty Ducks

Emilio Estevez is a national treasure, and not many movies showcase it quite like The Mighty Ducks. You can gear up for the upcoming Disney+ series (that even has Estevez reprising his role as Gordon Bombay) by taking in the film that started it all on HBO Max.

The Mighty Ducks is a pretty standard "sports underdog" movie, but the addition of Estevez as the flawed lawyer Gordon Bombay adds a nice wrinkle to it. Bombay is given a 500-hour community service sentence in response to a drunk driving incident, so he takes up coaching a local youth hockey team. Coaching the team turns out to be a huge challenge, but he starts connecting with the kids and realizes how much of his own demons are tied to his Pee-Wee hockey days. It should come as no surprise, but Bombay soon realizes that he is learning just as much from his team of misfits as they are learning from him.

Start practicing your triple deke now, friends — you can catch The Mighty Ducks and its sequels on HBO Max right now.

Mrs. Doubtfire

HBO Max has a solid selection of Robin Williams movies to trigger your nostalgia, including Patch Adams, Good Will Hunting, and License to Wed (alright, so they aren't all winners). But for our money, Mrs. Doubtfire is the one that most people are going to be excited about. It's Williams at his absolute zaniest, and it's got more than a few iconic scenes.

Mrs. Doubtfire is about an out-of-work actor (Williams) whose wife files for divorce. She gains custody of their three kids, but has to hire a nanny in order to care for them. That's when he takes the opportunity to dress as a sweet old lady named Mrs. Doubtfire so he can still be around his children while he attempts to find a new job.

Mrs. Doubtfire also features solid performances from Sally Field and Pierce Brosnan in supporting roles, but this is definitely one of those "star vehicle" films. Robin Williams is just too much fun to watch.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is one of the best "odd couple" comedies ever made, and it features two absolute titans of comedy at the top of their game: John Candy and Steve Martin. The jokes never stop, and this comedy of errors is one of those movies where, no matter how bad things get, you know they're going to turn out alright in the end.

Martin plays a stuffy executive and Candy plays an obnoxious salesman, but the two are thrown together when their plane is diverted away from Chicago due to a blizzard. With Thanksgiving just a few days away, the two do everything they can to try to make it home to their families in time. Pretty much everything that could go wrong does, and the differences between the two men only inflame tensions even more.

You watch a movie like Planes, Trains and Automobiles to see comedic performers at their best, and both Martin and Candy perfectly embody their roles here. What makes the film special are the little dramatic moments that let you empathize with their characters – something that lesser actors couldn't pull off.

The Wizard

Few movies are as blatantly commercial as The Wizard, but that's part of the charm of this 1989 video game flick. As part of that commercialism, it introduced the world to Super Mario Bros. 3, so it isn't so bad. And, just like the Power Glove, The Wizard is "so bad." If you were a child of the '80s, you know that means good. It was a confusing time.

The Wizard is basically Tommy, but it's about video games instead of pinball. Fred Savage plays Nick, who breaks his PTSD-afflicted brother Jimmy out of the mental institution where he's been committed following the death of his twin sister. Nick learns that Jimmy is an exceptional video game player, and starts hitchhiking across the country so he and Jimmy can enter a competition. He hopes to prove that Jimmy doesn't belong in the hospital by showcasing his talents.

It all culminates with Jimmy competing in the tournament debut of the unreleased Super Mario Bros. 3. The ending is about as predictable as you'd imagine. That said, there's something magical about The Wizard, and it's a perfect time capsule of late '80s youth culture.

Xanadu

Hear us out on this one: Xanadu is not a good film. It's actually kind of a mess, but that all comes together into something perfect and campy in this bizarre fantasy-roller skating musical. It's got Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly (in his final film role), an awesome soundtrack from the criminally underrated Electric Light Orchestra, and more "Wait, what?" moments than you can fathom. Xanadu may not be good, but it is awesome.

Trying to explain the plot of Xanadu is... quite a task. Olivia Newton-John plays a muse — like, a literal Greek mythology muse — who helps a struggling musician find his path. Don't worry too much about the plot; a musical like this is there to get you moving, and Xanadu will certainly do that. Songs like "Magic," which was a huge hit for Newton-John, will have you singing along in no time.

Not a lot of movies check all the "Guilty Pleasure" boxes quite like Xanadu, and you'll probably have a blast with it if you are a fan of musicals. Just don't blame us when you can't find your old roller skates in the garage afterwards.

Gremlins

Even if you've never seen Gremlins, you're probably familiar with it. Despite there only being two films in the franchise, it spawned a massive line of merchandise and is still beloved by many fans. There have been many different fits and starts towards rebooting the franchise, with the latest attempt being an animated series called Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai that is set to arrive on HBO Max in 2021. If you need your Gremlins fix in the meantime, you can find both films on the service right now.

In Gremlins, an inventor visits a mysterious shop and finds a unique Christmas gift for his son. It's a strange (and adorable) little creature known as a Mogwai, which he names Gizmo. Gizmo comes with three rules: keep him out of bright light, don't let him get wet, and never feed him after midnight. Naturally, it's not long before these rules are broken, spawning ugly, green critters with a vicious mean streak.

The first Gremlins film is a surprisingly dark Christmas movie, while the second is a much more goofy, tongue-in-cheek affair that pokes fun at the culture of the late '80s and early '90s. They're both solid watches with great practical effects and puppetry, even if a few of the gags are a bit stale at this point.

Free Willy

It's really something that Free Willy featured its most iconic moment in every poster and trailer — it's the literal climax of the film, and plastering it on every promo for the movie tells you exactly how it will end. Free Willy remains a memorable movie, and the marketing probably worked: most children of the '90s can probably conjure up the movie poster in their memories without much prodding.

Free Willy tells the story of Jesse, a kid in foster care who is assigned to clean up a theme park as part of his probation. Jesse is an outcast, and he soon forms a bond with an orca whale at the park named Willy. Jesse starts teaching Willy tricks, and he also learns that Willy is unhappy in captivity (something sure to be made worse by a few nefarious schemes being cooked up at the park) and sets out to... well, you know the title of the film.

It's schmaltzy and sentimental, but Free Willy is actually a movie with a lot more to say than its "feel-good '90s" exterior would have you believe. If you can't get enough orca in your life, all three (yes, there are three!) sequels are also available on HBO Max.

Home Alone

Did you know that there are five Home Alone films? They're all available on HBO Max, but we would recommend sticking with the first two, and maybe the third if you're desperate. The first two are the only ones that feature Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, and the later sequels feel more like they are trying to ape the magic rather than continue it.

If you somehow don't know the plot of Home Alone, here's a refresher: the McCallisters are planning a massive Christmas vacation with several members of their extended family. Through a series of mishaps, Kevin is left at home and the family doesn't realize it until after their plane has landed. Back at home, the McCallister home is targeted by Marv and Harry, a duo of criminals calling themselves the Wet Bandits. Kevin sets up a series of booby traps to try to fend off the robbers while his family rushes to get home to him.

Home Alone holds up remarkably well, and Culkin is one of the most natural and charismatic child actors we've ever seen. The second film, Lost in New York, is arguably even better than the first.

The Hobbit (1977)

It seems like everyone was confused by many of the decisions surrounding the live-action Hobbit trilogy, and that includes director Peter Jackson. If you really want to get a nostalgia blast while taking in the sights of Middle-Earth, we recommend 1977's The Hobbit, an animated musical feature from Rankin/Bass Productions that is made all the more charming by its technical limitations.

Was The Hobbit trilogy far too long for you? Well, good news — this version clocks in at under ninety minutes. It's wonderfully animated by Japanese animation studio Topcraft (the forerunner to Studio Ghibli) and has an amazing voice cast. The legendary John Huston voices Gandalf, and you'll hear plenty of other old-timey actors you recognize throughout. On top of all that, The Hobbit features over a dozen songs, many incorporating Tolkien's lyrics from the original texts.

Not everything is perfect here, but The Hobbit is a loving adaptation that is sure to please fans of the original novel. Gollum in the entire "Riddles in the Dark" sequence is excellent, Smaug is terrifying, and many of the backgrounds are amazingly detailed. There's a lot to enjoy here.

Space Jam

If you're like us, the first thing that pops in your head when you hear the words "Space Jam" is that slammin' theme song. You're welcome; now it's in there for days. Space Jam isn't just a fun novelty, though. It's actually a pretty solid movie with some strong jokes from the Looney Tunes gang and the best blend of hand-drawn animation and live action since Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Sure, it's extremely mid-'90s and there are some wooden performances from the many non-actors in the film, but it's still an enjoyable, nostalgic romp.

Space Jam is about a group of aliens who steal the skills of several NBA players (including Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, and Muggsy Bogues) in order to beat Bugs Bunny in a game of basketball and kidnap the Looney Tunes. It's... complicated. Bugs recruits a post-NBA Michael Jordan to help the Looney Tunes win, with Jordan running the risk of being enslaved in an alien amusement park.

It's a fun underdog sports movie that goes pretty much how you'd expect, but it's nice to see Jordan actually having some fun with himself, and each of your favorite Looney Tunes gets a moment to shine. Bill Murray also plays a surprisingly pivotal role.

Dumb & Dumber

It's best to pretend that the prequel Dumb and Dumberer and the late-to-the-party sequel Dumb & Dumber To don't exist.That said, the original Dumb & Dumber is a throwback to a simpler time, when the Farrelly Brothers were the kings of gross-out comedy, Jim Carrey was one of the biggest stars on the planet, and Jeff Daniels was showcasing his abilities as one of the most versatile actors around. Only one of those things is still true.

Dumb & Dumber tells the story of two dimwitted friends, Harry and Lloyd, who go on a cross-country trip to return a lost briefcase to a woman who's caught Lloyd's eye. They are eventually embroiled in a kidnapping and ransom scheme, unwittingly causing all sorts of problems and, of course, bumbling their way into saving the day. In the process, they meet a weirdo cast of characters and drop more quotable lines than even the most die-hard fan can remember.

Dumb & Dumber is really a showcase of two incredible actors at the top of their game. It's obviously a very stupid movie, but it's that special kind of stupid that feels masterfully planned and scripted. Carrey and Daniels are having way too much fun in this film, and more than 25 years later, it still shows.

Gremlins

Even if you've never seen Gremlins, you're probably familiar with it. Despite there only being two films in the franchise, it spawned a massive line of merchandise and is still beloved by many fans. There have been many different fits and starts towards rebooting the franchise, with the latest attempt being an animated series called Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai that is set to arrive on HBO Max in 2021. If you need your Gremlins fix in the meantime, you can find both films on the service right now.

In Gremlins, an inventor visits a mysterious shop and finds a unique Christmas gift for his son. It's a strange (and adorable) little creature known as a Mogwai, which he names Gizmo. Gizmo comes with three rules: keep him out of bright light, don't let him get wet, and never feed him after midnight. Naturally, it's not long before these rules are broken, spawning ugly, green critters with a vicious mean streak.

The first Gremlins film is a surprisingly dark Christmas movie, while the second is a much more goofy, tongue-in-cheek affair that pokes fun at the culture of the late '80s and early '90s. They're both solid watches with great practical effects and puppetry, even if a few of the gags are a bit stale at this point.

Free Willy

It's really something that Free Willy featured its most iconic moment in every poster and trailer — it's the literal climax of the film, and plastering it on every promo for the movie tells you exactly how it will end. Free Willy remains a memorable movie, and the marketing probably worked: most children of the '90s can probably conjure up the movie poster in their memories without much prodding.

Free Willy tells the story of Jesse, a kid in foster care who is assigned to clean up a theme park as part of his probation. Jesse is an outcast, and he soon forms a bond with an orca whale at the park named Willy. Jesse starts teaching Willy tricks, and he also learns that Willy is unhappy in captivity (something sure to be made worse by a few nefarious schemes being cooked up at the park) and sets out to... well, you know the title of the film.

It's schmaltzy and sentimental, but Free Willy is actually a movie with a lot more to say than its "feel-good '90s" exterior would have you believe. If you can't get enough orca in your life, all three (yes, there are three!) sequels are also available on HBO Max.

Home Alone

Did you know that there are five Home Alone films? They're all available on HBO Max, but we would recommend sticking with the first two, and maybe the third if you're desperate. The first two are the only ones that feature Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, and the later sequels feel more like they are trying to ape the magic rather than continue it.

If you somehow don't know the plot of Home Alone, here's a refresher: the McCallisters are planning a massive Christmas vacation with several members of their extended family. Through a series of mishaps, Kevin is left at home and the family doesn't realize it until after their plane has landed. Back at home, the McCallister home is targeted by Marv and Harry, a duo of criminals calling themselves the Wet Bandits. Kevin sets up a series of booby traps to try to fend off the robbers while his family rushes to get home to him.

Home Alone holds up remarkably well, and Culkin is one of the most natural and charismatic child actors we've ever seen. The second film, Lost in New York, is arguably even better than the first.

The Hobbit (1977)

It seems like everyone was confused by many of the decisions surrounding the live-action Hobbit trilogy, and that includes director Peter Jackson. If you really want to get a nostalgia blast while taking in the sights of Middle-Earth, we recommend 1977's The Hobbit, an animated musical feature from Rankin/Bass Productions that is made all the more charming by its technical limitations.

Was The Hobbit trilogy far too long for you? Well, good news — this version clocks in at under ninety minutes. It's wonderfully animated by Japanese animation studio Topcraft (the forerunner to Studio Ghibli) and has an amazing voice cast. The legendary John Huston voices Gandalf, and you'll hear plenty of other old-timey actors you recognize throughout. On top of all that, The Hobbit features over a dozen songs, many incorporating Tolkien's lyrics from the original texts.

Not everything is perfect here, but The Hobbit is a loving adaptation that is sure to please fans of the original novel. Gollum in the entire "Riddles in the Dark" sequence is excellent, Smaug is terrifying, and many of the backgrounds are amazingly detailed. There's a lot to enjoy here.

Space Jam

If you're like us, the first thing that pops in your head when you hear the words "Space Jam" is that slammin' theme song. You're welcome; now it's in there for days. Space Jam isn't just a fun novelty, though. It's actually a pretty solid movie with some strong jokes from the Looney Tunes gang and the best blend of hand-drawn animation and live action since Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Sure, it's extremely mid-'90s and there are some wooden performances from the many non-actors in the film, but it's still an enjoyable, nostalgic romp.

Space Jam is about a group of aliens who steal the skills of several NBA players (including Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, and Muggsy Bogues) in order to beat Bugs Bunny in a game of basketball and kidnap the Looney Tunes. It's... complicated. Bugs recruits a post-NBA Michael Jordan to help the Looney Tunes win, with Jordan running the risk of being enslaved in an alien amusement park.

It's a fun underdog sports movie that goes pretty much how you'd expect, but it's nice to see Jordan actually having some fun with himself, and each of your favorite Looney Tunes gets a moment to shine. Bill Murray also plays a surprisingly pivotal role.

Dumb & Dumber

It's best to pretend that the prequel Dumb and Dumberer and the late-to-the-party sequel Dumb & Dumber To don't exist.That said, the original Dumb & Dumber is a throwback to a simpler time, when the Farrelly Brothers were the kings of gross-out comedy, Jim Carrey was one of the biggest stars on the planet, and Jeff Daniels was showcasing his abilities as one of the most versatile actors around. Only one of those things is still true.

Dumb & Dumber tells the story of two dimwitted friends, Harry and Lloyd, who go on a cross-country trip to return a lost briefcase to a woman who's caught Lloyd's eye. They are eventually embroiled in a kidnapping and ransom scheme, unwittingly causing all sorts of problems and, of course, bumbling their way into saving the day. In the process, they meet a weirdo cast of characters and drop more quotable lines than even the most die-hard fan can remember.

Dumb & Dumber is really a showcase of two incredible actors at the top of their game. It's obviously a very stupid movie, but it's that special kind of stupid that feels masterfully planned and scripted. Carrey and Daniels are having way too much fun in this film, and more than 25 years later, it still shows.