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The '80s Movies I Can’t Wait to Show My Daughter

The last time my 3-year-old was home sick from school, I ran out of kids’ movies to watch and wound up showing her a good chunk of "Dirty Dancing." I knew it wasn’t age-appropriate for my preschooler, but the whole Penny-needs-an-abortion plot went right over head, and she was totally riveted by the dance numbers. Bonus: Mom didn’t have to sit through "Beauty and the Beast" again.

I may have to wait a few more years (or a decade), but here are 10 other memorable '80s movies that I’m excited to share with my daughter:

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1. "Valley Girl"

This modern day Romeo and Juliet story features hilarious lingo (Grody to the max!), a swoon-worthy young Nicolas Cage and the greatest falling-in-love montage I’ve ever seen, set to Modern English’s “I Melt With You.”

Positive message: Don’t do what your friends think you should do. Follow your own heart.

Image via Atlantic Entertainment Group

2. "Sixteen Candles"

The awkwardness of high school is perfectly captured in this John Hughes classic about a 16th birthday gone wrong, then very right. Sure, there’s some casual racism I’d have to explain away, but the rest of the movie holds up beautifully.

Positive message: The regular girl is just as worthy of love as the prom queen, so be yourself.

Image via 20th Century Fox

3. "The Karate Kid"

I love a good underdog story, especially one featuring the unforgettable friendship between Ralph Macchio’s Daniel-san and his mysterious mentor, the karate master Mr. Miyagi, who trains him to take down the high school bully.

Positive Message: Never give up! Hard work pays off (wax on, wax off). Also, gotta love a movie where the main girl’s sexiest outfit is a headband and cardigan.

Image via Columbia Pictures

4. "The Princess Bride"

This quirky fairy tale adventure is a timeless classic with all the elements a kid could want: a beautiful princess, swashbuckling pirates, a gentle giant and Rodents of Unusual Size. Not showing it to my daughter would be inconceivable!

Positive Message: Be brave and have hope. Also, trust your elders on their book recommendations—wasn’t Fred Savage glad he let Peter Falk finish telling the story?

Image via MGM

5. "Adventures in Babysitting"

An ordinary night in suburbia turns into a wild chase through the seedier parts of Chicago, but the resourceful teenaged babysitter (Elizabeth Shue) gets the kids home safe and sound like a boss.

Positive Message: When adversity strikes, keep calm and carry on; you’re stronger than you know. Also, don’t f**k with the babysitter.

Image via Touchstone Pictures

6. "Can’t Buy Me Love"

Long before he was McDreamy, young Patrick Dempsey stole my heart as the geek who risked it all for a date with his dream girl. It’s a teen comedy that brings laughs while exploring the true nature of popularity.

Positive message: Money and clothes aren’t nearly as important as what’s inside. Just because the cool kids start paying attention to you, don’t forget who your real friends are.

Image via Apollo Pictures

7. "Desperately Seeking Susan"

This mistaken identity caper features great screwball comedy, covetable vintage clothes and Madonna in her prime, before she got faux British.

Positive message: Girl power. And much like Elsa and Anna, the surprising friendship between straight-laced Roberta (Rosanna Arquette) and wild child Susan (Madonna) outshines the romantic relationships.

Image via MTV

8. "Airplane!"

A parody of '70s disaster movies that became a classic unto itself, "Airplane!" is a must-see for any child of mine … because she needs to laugh on command when I say, “And don’t call me Shirley.”

Positive message: Silliness conquers all. Win one for the Zipper.

Image via Paramount Pictures

9. "The Sure Thing"

If you can get over the fact that John Cusack is basically driving cross country to have casual sex, this road trip comedy is sweet, tender and hilarious. Plus, our hero picks bookish Daphne Zuniga over stereotypical hottie Nicollette Sheridan in the end.

Positive message: Nice guys (and girls) don’t always finish last. Real love comes from being attracted to the whole person, not just looks.

Image via Twentieth Century Fox

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10. "Trading Places"

I never get tired of watching Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis bring it in this side-splitting social satire. Might have to wait a while to screen it, given all the cursing, hookers and boobs, but I hope someday it will be our annual Christmas movie.

Positive message: Don’t make assumptions based on race or social standing. And it wouldn’t kill you to learn something about the stock market.

Image via Getty Images

What '80s movies would you add to the list?

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