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10 Thrilling Movies Like The Goonies Every '80s Kid Will Love

You would be hard-pressed to find someone out there who doesn't like "The Goonies." Directed by Richard Donner, it's easily one of the most beloved films of the '80s, absolutely jam-packed with memorable moments and quotable dialogue. For its young target audience, it truly defined an era and would go on to inspire more than a few homages. Given the film's near-universal appeal and endless rewatchability, it's no surprise that many of us can recite the events of this classic beat by beat, from "Hey you guys!" to "Jerk alert!" and the humiliating Truffle Shuffle.

Below, we'll be going on an adventure of our own to find the movies that most resemble "The Goonies." There's everything from similarly wild and outlandish escapades to much more realistic coming-of-age stories. In one way or another, each and every one of these films will be sure to satisfy the adventure-loving "never say die" spirit of every child of the '80s.

The Lost Boys

Dark, moody, and soaked in blood, "The Lost Boys" is a film that has become a staple of every goth kid's film lineup, though it came pretty close to being something entirely different. After wrapping up production on "The Goonies," director Richard Donner was all set to spin a similarly feel-good yarn of childhood adventure with "The Lost Boys" before ultimately winding up directing far more mature fare with the first "Lethal Weapon." The now vacant seat at the director chair went to relative newcomer Joel Schumacher, who had more than a few changes he wanted to make. According to Empire, hoping to evade comparisons to "The Goonies," Schumacher went about heavily redrafting the lighthearted original script and transforming it from "Goonies Go Vampire" into something a lot darker. That said, a lot of the ideas from the original concept are still there — if you know where to look.

Set in a town plagued by vampires and practically oozing doom and gloom, you'd be forgiven for assuming there's no room for fun, but that's where "The Lost Boys" catches audiences by surprise. Underneath its edgy exterior, Schumacher's final product wasn't afraid to embrace its admittedly goofy (and at times unapologetically) '80s premise. 

At their heart, both "The Goonies" and "The Lost Boys" follow young adults in over their heads and thrust into a misadventure no regular adult would be willing to believe. Though we might not have the treasure-seeking gang from "The Goonies" to help fight off the blood-sucking menace, we come pretty close while watching self-described teenage vampire hunters go from laughing stock to the best bet at saving the day in this cult classic.

The Monster Squad

It may have been a box office disaster (in no small part thanks to the financial success of "The Lost Boys" released just two weeks prior), and at times it may be a bit too irreverent, but "The Monster Squad" is still a guilty pleasure for many. Largely forgotten by anyone but the few who actually caught it in theaters (or the many more who rented it from the video store when that was still a thing), director Fred Dekker's last film before the even more critically panned "Robocop 3," is unapologetically '80s.

Much like "The Goonies," this film follows a group of pre-teens who track down the truth behind a long-lost legend, this time coming in the form of Van Helsing's diary. In the pages of the famed monster hunter's memoirs lies a truth unknown to all but our plucky protagonists. Once every century, the likes of Frankenstein's Monster, the Wolf Man, and other ghastly monsters are given the power to launch a crusade led by Dracula, to seize a powerful amulet and gain control over the world. Sure, it's cheesy as anything, but that's what makes this one so fun.

Stand by Me

Though it's quite a bit darker than feel-good '80s flicks like "The Goonies," "Stand by Me" is one of the most iconic coming-of-age stories committed to film, and one that still resonates with audiences today. Based on a novella by legendary horror author Stephen King, the film is told through a flashback to a fateful summer in which our protagonist Gordie (Wil Wheaton) and his childhood friends embark on a macabre adventure together.

After hearing that the body of a local boy killed by a train has been found but left unreported to the proper authorities, Gordie and his friends set out to try and locate the missing boy themselves. Along the way, they come up against a number of challenges as they trek deeper into the remote stretch of woods. That's not the only hardship they face, however, as each of their respective backgrounds are explored through their interactions with one another, painting an all-too-real picture of childhood neglect and dysfunctional home lives for some of them — especially the insightful but troubled Chris (River Phoenix).

While there are humorous moments throughout, a journey to find a dead body rarely has a happy ending. "Stand by Me" is just as much about discovering yourself in the transitional years of adolescence as it is about the finality and acceptance of death. A closing sequence in which the flashback comes to an end and Gordie reflects on the ways his friends found themselves drifting apart in the years, since serves as a bittersweet ending, and one that drives home the film's overarching themes perfectly.

The NeverEnding Story

Wolfgang Petersen is probably best known to hardcore film buffs for his 1981 military classic "Das Boot." Considered by many to be one of the greatest war films of all time, it's somewhat surprising that just a few years later Petersen would go on to direct a fantasy classic like "The NeverEnding Story." Fans already familiar with this dark fairy tale might not be too shocked, though, since there is a definite feeling of melancholy that looms over the entirety of the film.

"The NeverEnding Story" continually shifts narratives between the realm of the titular fantasy tale and our own world. In the world we know, our protagonist Bastian (Barret Oliver) is dodging bullies and spends his free time reading fantasy stories. In the realm of the latest novel he's found, "The NeverEnding Story," a sprawling empire known as Fantasia is faced with the imminent threat of complete destruction as it slowly succumbs to a malevolent force known only as "the Nothing." The burden of saving the land from annihilation rests on the shoulders of a young boy named Atreyu (Noah Hathaway), who sets off to find a cure for the dying Childlike Empress (Tami Stronach). His journey quickly proves to be anything but easy, however, as Atreyu comes face to face with a number of perils and foes that threaten to end his quest and plunge Fantasia into permanent darkness.

"The NeverEnding Story" has become beloved over the years thanks to its unbridled creativity, matched only by its unusually bleak tone for a children's movie. The vastness of Fantasia and its storybook qualities come to a similar end as the tale of One-Eyed Willy in "The Goonies," as both films end up blurring the line between legend and reality by their conclusion.


A cult film that isn't afraid to revel in its magical setting, "Labyrinth" is far from your typical romp through the realm of fantasy. Featuring masterful puppetry from the brilliant Jim Henson and an antagonist played by a certain eccentric English singer, just about every frame of this classic is unmistakably '80s.

Teenage Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is entirely fed up with her baby step-brother Toby (Toby Froud). When she is watching him one night, she finds Toby holding her cherished teddy bear, and at her wit's end due to his constant crying, she wishes for him to be taken away by the Goblin King. Whether or not she actually anticipated Jareth (David Bowie) appearing in her room to follow through on her wish, though, we aren't sure. After begging for a chance to undo the damage she caused, Jareth offers Sarah one opportunity to free her baby brother from his clutches. There's just one catch: Her journey will take her through Jareth's treacherous labyrinth, a maze filled with traps, puzzles, and numerous bizarre creatures. To make matters worse, she's given a time limit of 13 hours to finish the daunting challenge, at the end of which, Toby will be whisked away to the realm of goblins for good.

Though it doesn't have the same "group of kids going on an adventure" dynamic that we all loved in "The Goonies," "Labyrinth" more than makes up for this by having Sarah encounter a truly wacky cast of characters along her perilous journey, from the lumbering Ludo and the permanently grouchy dwarf Hoggle, to the irrepressible Sir Didymus. Also, any movie in which David Bowie breaks into a song and dance routine with a legion of puppets at his side is a must-watch for us.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

It's hard to imagine a film more emblematic of everything we love about '80s cinema than Steven Spielberg's "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial." One of the most successful feature films from one of the most beloved directors in all of Hollywood, its iconic status has served as an enduring testament to its greatness some 40 years on. 

Breaking from the usual trope of gradually hinting at the presence of intergalactic visitors before the big reveal, Spielberg wastes no time in cutting to the chase. Opening with a narrowly avoided close encounter of the third kind between E.T.'s fellow aliens and shady government agents, the resulting mayhem leaves the alien visitor stranded on our planet. Alone and in a strange land, E.T. ends up forging an unlikely friendship with Elliott (Henry Thomas), that has far-reaching consequences none of them could have anticipated. Of course, our heroes soon find themselves on the run if they want to survive the unprecedented ordeal — not from a treasure seeking trio of miscreants like the Fratelli crime family this time around, but instead from the long arm of the Federal government.

Let's face it, we all adore "The Goonies," but "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" is one of the only films that might just have it beat for fans of everything '80s. Since it's been immortalized in pop culture and recognized as the highest-grossing movie of the decade, this is one film we would hope you have already seen at least once. If you're in the minority that still hasn't had a chance to ever watch this all-time classic, though, it would probably be best if you bookmarked this article and caught up on everything you've been missing.


Take a swashbuckling premise packed with pirates and allow Steven Spielberg to take the helm and you've got the makings of an instant, albeit critically underrated, classic. With Robin Williams thrown into the mix in the starring role of this live-action retelling of "Peter Pan", and it almost sounds too good to be true.

Working in a corporate job as a top-level lawyer, Peter Banning (Robin Williams) struggles to balance his career with his home life. While on a trip abroad with his family, he and his wife attend a benefit with his wife's grandmother, Wendy Darling (Maggie Smith), but when they return, Peter is horrified to discover that his children have been kidnapped. With the police uncooperative and Peter lacking any skills of his own to hunt down the kidnappers, he feels powerless to save his children. That is until Wendy reveals that once upon a time, the man we know as Peter Banning was actually Peter Pan. It emerges that he's completely lost touch with his true identity over the years, sending him on a journey to rediscover himself, save his children, and defeat his arch-nemesis Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) once and for all.

While it might not appear all that similar to "The Goonies" during the first act, the similarities emerge as Peter arrives in Never-Never Land, where the rollicking nautical adventure that Peter embarks on and his relationship with his young allies the Lost Boys, combine to make "Hook" one of the most similar films to "The Goonies" on our list. Though critics were clamoring to throw it overboard, audiences have been hooked on this one for over 30 years, transforming it from a critical flop into a well-deserved cult classic.

Super 8

Today, J.J. Abrams' films are largely defined by their sprawling, fast-paced storylines, from "Mission: Impossible III" to "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," but back in 2011, he released the comparatively subdued "Super 8." He also had more than a little help on the production side from the legendary Steven Spielberg, whose influence can be felt throughout the film. Even though it's one of the most recent picks on our list, "Super 8" manages to capture all the heart and soul of an '80s classic.

Named after a now-outdated 8mm film format, "Super 8" is fittingly set in a small Ohio town during the late '70s where a group of young filmmakers is working on their next project. One night, tragedy strikes as one of their filming locations becomes the site of a massive train derailment in a spectacle that's up there with Abrams' most over-the-top action sequences. The fact that our protagonists all manage to escape a grisly death is already beyond lucky, but a series of truly inexplicable events follow the accident, leaving the gang with more questions than answers. Believing the crash site to be the location of a potential government cover-up, they go from amateur filmmakers to fully fledged investigators on a mission to uncover the truth.

Though it may not be the most memorable entry in either Spielberg or Abrams' respective careers, "Super 8" is nonetheless a modern classic that deserves to be remembered as fondly as any of the films it pays homage to.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

Holding its own in a summer packed with great releases, "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" emerged as the top-grossing comedy of the year. Regarded fondly enough at the time to be followed up by not one but two sequels both featuring more size-related hijinks, the only other thing that kept shrinking was audience interest in the series. Despite that, the original is a charmingly goofy flick that still holds up today.

After genius scientist and family man Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) finishes off yet another failed invention, this time a shrink ray, he casts it off into the trash. Unbeknownst to Szalinski, however, his seemingly failed creation actually works perfectly, as evidenced by the fact that his four children stumbled into the machine and are shrunk down to the size of bugs (a little smaller, actually). Eventually finding themselves stranded in the trash outside, the kids are forced to try and make it home through the dense jungle that is their backyard.

Though audiences have been surprisingly harsh on this wacky comedy over the years, the first installment remains an incredibly fun adventure. If you're looking for a high-concept premise featuring a group of kids on a mission, "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" has you covered.


One of the most recent picks on our list, "Mud" is also one of the most grounded in reality. Starring Matthew McConaughey as the titular Mud, this coming-of-age story is full of all the heart, grit, and solid performances you'd hope for given its talented cast.

Set in Arkansas, teenage boys Ellis (Tye Sheridan in his second film role) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) encounter a mysterious stranger stranded in the Mississippi River. Going only by the name Mud, he pleads with the boys for help, revealing that he is actually not just stranded, but hiding out in the remote area they found him in. The timeless warning of "Stranger Danger" might just be true here, as behind Mud's cool exterior and alluring stories of his past lies an apparent need to remove himself from the rest of civilization, plus a pistol tucked into his waistband. Any suspicions about Mud's questionable past are confirmed when Ellis is confronted with the reality that his newfound friend is on the run from the law. Of course, it's not quite that simple, as Mud spins a story for the two boys that makes the situation not as black and white as it first appears.

There's no fabled treasure of sprawling empires in this one, but "Mud" still captures that same spirit of optimistic youth that films like "The Goonies" encapsulated. Plus, the overwhelmingly positive reception from both critics and audiences alike make "Mud" one of the best in its class.