Did you have a favorite childhood movie you watched later in life, only to discover it’s not quite what you remember? For example, I love My Father the Hero, but in retrospect, a 14-year-old girl in a thong bikini with an 18-year-old boy (who was 22 in real-life) would seemingly raise more red flags today.
After polling the internet, here are twenty-five topped-voted films that just don’t land the same way they did back in the day.
1. The Parent Trap (1998)
“The Parent Trap,” shared one. “It was lost on me as a kid how TERRIBLE both those parents are for separating and denying the existence of the other daughter, like what?”
“THANK you! Nobody in my family understands why I hate that movie so much.” another asked. “Am I supposed to be happy these two people who abandoned one of their children forever and lied to the other one about it their entire life get back together in the end?”
2. Billy Madison (1995)
“Billy Madison is a great example, but so hard to dislike anything that has both Norm MacDonald AND Chris Farley in it. To that end, I still love Dirty Work. Rewatch at least once a year,” one admitted. Another argued, “If you go into Billy Madison expecting an enjoyable, dumb humor Adam Sandler movie, I’d say it still holds up very well.”
3. Kangaroo Jack (2003)
One user shared, “First one that came to mind was Kangaroo Jack. I thought it was hilarious as a kid, but watching it as an adult. I was disappointed.” Another added, “That movie was a disappointment in general. Tons of people were expecting a goofy sidekick movie with a talking kangaroo based on trailers that misled them.”
4. Children of the Corn (1984)
“Children of the Corn. Malachi is so scary when you’re a kid. But, when you get older, you realize he’s just a little twerp with a big knife,” one laughed. A second exclaimed, “What? Isaac is still a super creepy kid!”
5. Big (1988)
Someone shared, “Big with Tom Hanks is somewhat creepy. There is an alternate ending to Big where he goes back to school, and a new girl walks in, and it’s implied that she also found the machine and changed herself to be young with him, which would be pretty creepy to keep in.”
6. Blank Check (1994)
In keeping with the trend, “Blank Check. A child goes on a date with a woman, and she kisses him at the end of it,” said one. A second added, “And then tells him to look her up in a few years, creepy and inappropriate.”
7. Jack Frost (1997)
“Those Jack Frost horror movies,” one replied. “I downloaded them the other day to check out, and they’re so awful.” Another argued, “The VHS covers were so spooky to walk by when you’re five years old, though! It would do that holo thing, going from smiley snowman to SPOOKY EVIL snowman.”
“I’d always confuse that movie and the Christmas movie where Michael Keaton becomes a snowman. I’d think they were the same movie,” a third confessed.
8. Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
“My dad gave me Revenge of the Nerds and Porky’s as a gift because he loved them as a kid. Even as a kid, I was uncomfortable about all of it. Many old comedies are just sexual harassment/abuse played up to be a cute ‘boys being boys’ thing,” suggested one.
9. 3 Ninjas (1992)
“The movie 3 Ninjas,” shared one. “I thought it was excellent as a kid, but it’s unwatchable as an adult.” “Rocky loves Emily! But in all seriousness, I decided to show this masterpiece to my kids, and I was like, this is NOT how I remembered it,” a second admitted.
10. Garden State (2004)
“Garden State. I watched this a dozen times in the first few months after the DVD release. I felt so adult watching it. Now it’s pretty cringeworthy and probably the most significant manic pixie dream girl movie you can find,” one suggested. “Agreed. But the soundtrack still holds up,” added a second.
11. The Adventures of Milo and Otis (1986)
“Now we know they maimed and killed many animals to make it. It’s completely unwatchable once you find out that information,” shared one. Another volunteered, “It’s the movie that caused animal cruelty in entertainment law reforms in Australia. I loved the film as a kid, but now. Ugh.”
12. Space Jam (1996)
“Space Jam. Reminiscing, I showed it to my wife, who had never seen it. I showed her a Nike ad disguised as a movie. Whoops,” laughed one. “It was funny when Space Jam 2 came out because all of these people were upset that it was “shameless advertising” and “ruined the franchise.”
Those people were living on nostalgia because, while still slightly better than the sequel, Space Jam is weird, cheesy, and terrible as all get out.”
13. Master of Disguise (2002)
“Master of Disguise. Turtle, Turtle,” one stated. “When my wife and I started dating, we talked about how much we loved that movie as kids. So, the right course of action was to get super stoned and watch it while eating ridiculous food. A perfect stoner movie, right? Wrong. We made it like 20 minutes before turning it off. I gained a lot of respect for my parents, who watched it with us a few times as kids.”
14. American Beauty (1999)
“American Beauty. The acting, score, and cinematography are great, but it’s prime ‘I’m 14, and this is deep’ material, which is fitting because I was 14 when I saw it and considered it the best film I’d ever seen,” one replied.
15. Transformers (2007)
“People say the first Transformers movie holds up,” suggested one. “The first hour holds up, but everything after Optimus Prime is introduced is childish muck.”
16. Batman & Robin (1997)
Someone noted, “Batman & Robin I loved as a kid. Growing up, I was a giant Arnold Schwarzenegger fan, so I thought Mr. Freeze was fantastic! Unfortunately, I rewatched it a year ago, and it is terrible.”
17. Congo (1995)
“Congo. When I was eight, it blew my mind so much that I was still impressed with it 20 years later. It had everything: A talking ape, killer silver apes, laser beams, action, and diamonds.”
“It was a cinematic adventure and holy in my mind until I rewatched it. When I say I was disappointed, that is an understatement. I’d rather I didn’t rewatch it so I could still think back at it as fondly as I once did,” one answered.
18. Eragon (2006)
“Eragon. I made the mistake of reading the book afterward. So I thought the movie was great, then I read the book and was like, who made this movie? So now I can’t watch it. Usually, I can separate the novel from the film, but they ruined that book and can’t get past it,” someone confessed.
19. Sixteen Candles (1984)
“There is so much that is wrong with Sixteen Candles. Such a bummer because I loved that movie,” admitted one. Another added, “Oof, yeah. Rapey and racist. I loved it as a kid, but I can’t watch it now.”
20. Xanadu (1980)
Someone confessed, “I know it’s considered one of the worst movies of all time, but I loved Xanadu when I was younger. Of course, it still has a great soundtrack, but what was I thinking?”
21. Dirty Dancing (1987)
“Dirty Dancing was utterly ruined for me by a friend. She was watching it for the first time as an adult. She poked so many holes into the plot that I still have difficulty enjoying it. Swore never to watch another old-time favorite with anyone who had never seen it or didn’t already love it,” one user expressed.
22. The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D (2005)
Someone admitted, “I never watched The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D as a kid, but I just saw it recently because of my son. Wow, it’s so bad. I can barely stand listening to any dialogue because every character is angry and rude the entire time. It’s grating.”
23. The Black Hole (1979)
“Disney’s The Black Hole. It’s lengthy and slow, with a drug-fueled ending. I thought I remembered this being cool and shared it with my kids – it was not,” shared one.
24. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The older you get, the more you think he’s an entitled jerk, and you are on the principal’s side,” someone stated. “That was weird for me. I finally saw it again after first seeing it as a teenager, and Ferris no longer amused me,” another agreed.
25. Mallrats (1995)
“I watched Mallrats weekly as a teenager and would tell everyone about how good this movie is. I watched it a few weeks ago, and the jokes don’t land like they used to. Jason Lee’s lines during the game show hold up, but everything else lost its novelty,” a final user commented.
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Inspired by this thread.
Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing, a website that provides information about addiction, recovery, mental wellness, spirituality, and resources to help people succeed in rebuilding their lives. Elizabeth has education and experience with addiction, healing, and spiritual studies. She is passionate about learning, teaching, and loving her neighbor.