Isn’t growing up a drag? It ruins memories of everything, including beloved films that make us miss our childhood. Though a good number of these movies still capture a sense of wonder in adulthood, some of them are not quite what you remember them as. Sometimes movies are a direct product of their time due to certain acting, special effects, themes, music and characters.
It’s a bummer, but watching a movie that you popped into the VHS everyday while growing up doesn’t mean it’s going to give you that warm feeling you had as a kid. What’s worse, watching a beloved childhood classic today might actually ruin your memories of it from yesterday. The following films are some examples of childhood favorites that just don’t stack up to your fond memories of them.
If you want to retain that certain sense of nostalgia, avoid ruined memories by dodging these 14 Movies From Your Childhood That Have Aged Horribly.
14. Flubber (1997)
Flubber is a small child’s dream movie with flying green goo bouncing off walls and catapulting bowling balls into space. Unfortunately, the premise doesn’t translate after the smoke from adolescence has cleared, and what we get is a painfully generic plot, written by John Hughes, who seems to be just phoning it in.
Comedy legend Robin Williams stars as Professor Brainard who, besides being a brilliant scientist, is a regular forget-me-Mary. He’s an absent minded professor that’s just too much for adults to stomach. He leaves his fiancé standing at the altar three times, which inevitably leads to the two breaking up, though it’s only a matter of time before they get back together. Add on top of that the college institution Brainard teaches at is going bankrupt, leading him to create the bouncy green goo to save the day, and Flubber follows the lovable-loser clichés by the book. The scenes featuring flubber are fun for the audience, but it can’t back up a story we’ve seen countless times done before, and done much better.
13. Richie Rich (1994)
Forgotten child star Macaulay Culkin stars in this 1994 adaptation of the famous comic strip, which is almost as forgettable as its lead actor. Richie is the wealthiest kid alive, but with all his money he finds himself very alone. The wunderkind reluctantly takes over his family business after one of the top executives tries to steal all its money, and it’s up to Richie and his new ragtag team of friends to save the company and learn a thing or two about friendship in the process.
The story here is an age old one: kid doesn’t have any friends, makes friends, spoils bad guy’s plot, everything works out at the end. As a kid the film definitely appealed to our sensibilities. Who wouldn’t want to have a waterpark in their backyard or a helipad on their roof? Watching it now, all the charm of wanting to be the richest kid alive no longer appeals, and the paper-thin plot and hammed acting certainly don’t help. While it gets points for being light and fun, we can’t help thinking as adults that we would rather see Richie Rich left off in a newspaper comic strip.
12. Air Bud (1997)
A film that shamelessly tore on your heartstrings as a child, but becomes more melodramatic as we grow older. Air Bud has all the familiar tropes of a kid’s movie that starts when a fatherless boy moves to a new town. With no friends and no one to talk to, the boy befriends a stray dog who has the unbelievable ability to hit basketballs with his nose. As it turns out, the kid is trying out for the basketball team and brings his dog along for tryouts. You can pretty much guess where to movie goes from here.
A dog playing basketball might spark your imagination when you’re a kid, but as an adult it’s a bit much. While every child had this movie on VHS growing up, nowadays it falls in the category of forgotten Disney films that barely pass as a guilty pleasure. What’s worse is the endless amounts of cash-grabbing sequels it spawned, in which Air Bud plays baseball, football, soccer, and even volleyball. We’re just waiting for the studios to get desperate enough that they have the famous sports dog enter a shuffleboard tournament.
11. Doctor Dolittle (1998)
What’s more appealing to a kid’s sensibility than talking animals with an attitude? Probably nothing, which made Doctor Doolittle such a hit with audiences on its release. Funnyman Eddie Murphy plays a Doctor who can for some inexplicable reason communicate with animals, an ability which leads to a bunch of problems in his practice. Doc deals with an alcoholic French monkey that frequently appears on his doorstep, and even performs surgery on a Tiger.
While some of the themes in this movie are a bit adult, it was heavily edited when broadcasted on the Disney Channel, which is where flocks of kids saw it for the first time. Watching it today, some of the more risqué choices work, while a lot of them don’t. Eddie Murphy has a commanding presence and is as charming as ever, but it’s not enough to save a film that runs out of ideas fairly quickly. A lot of the jokes are recycled and, aside from a few solid one-liners, you might find yourself suffering from boredom early in. The big appeal of the movie is the talking animals, and to be honest, the idea has been driven into the ground in Hollywood.
10. Dragonheart (1996)
Mystical creatures are always able to catch a child’s wonder and imagination, and this is certainly exploited in Dragonheart, the story of a dragonslayer who experiences a change of heart and befriends the last of the dragons. Kevin Costner plays our hero while Sean Connery(!) provides the voice for our CGI dragon, Draco. Again, young audiences love talking animals, especially mystical animals that fly around and breathe fire, so many of us have fond memories of this medieval classic.
While the movie was nominated for an Oscar for Best Visual Effects, you wouldn’t have guessed it by looking at it today. Draco’s animation just doesn’t compare to movies like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which feature CGI character that are able to emote just like humans. Draco is comparison just seems stilted, and while we might not want to admit it, it is rather distracting when watching this once beloved film as an adult.
9. Batman Forever (1995)
While not as quite considered the steaming pile of bat guano that was Batman & Robin, Joel Schumacher’s first take on the Caped Crusader still has a bunch of cringe-worthy moments. It’s no secret that kids love comic book movies, and when this came out in the summer of 1995, kids everywhere were quick to drag their parents to the theater. Director Schumacher knew how to pander to a younger demographic, replacing the dark gothic theme Tim Burton had set up in the previous films with bright colors, quirky dialog, and a supervillain performance from Jim Carrey so campy and-over-the-top that it put Cesar Romero to shame.
As a child, we loved this entry into the Batman franchise, but as an adult…not so much. The special effects as well as the lazily choreographed fight scenes have not aged well. The plot, which has Carrey’s Riddler steal knowledge from the citizens of Gotham using a television box, is laughable in all the wrong ways. Not to mention that this was Chris O’Donnell’s introduction of Robin, a role that now comes off as whiny and irritating. It’s hard to watch this movie when we have so many Batman films now with real substance. Between Burton’s originals and Nolan’s hyper grounded trilogy, Forever is placed in limbo as a Batman film that time will (eventually) forget.
8. Mortal Kombat (1995)
If you were an impressionable child, then chances are Mortal Kombat hit all the right notes with you. It’s based on a popular video game you’re more than familiar with, and features crazy fight sequences that involve cyborgs and ancient monsters. It no doubt has produced a lot of fine memories for generation Y, with the theme song permanently stuck in our head until the end of days. But for those of you who say, “Mortal Kombat still holds up today,” watch it again.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s still a bunch of fun and probably one of the better video game adaptations out there (though that isn’t saying much), but that doesn’t mean it’s averse to aging. Watching it now, the acting is unquestionably horrific, and the effects, while breathtaking upon its release, have become a bit stale. It’s still enjoyable, but don’t expect to recapture any childhood memories when you’re watching Liu Kang and Sub Zero throw poorly computer-generated icicles at each other.
7. Casper (1995)
It’s not hard to understand why Casper the Friendly Ghost is such a hit with children. A lot of kids feel invisible or misinterpreted just like Casper, who is unable to remember most of his life before being a ghost. He’s reassuring in a world full of ghouls and scary things. It’s comforting for kids to know that there’s a friendly ghost on their side out there, and that’s exactly what this live adaptation of the comic strip provides. Casper is a play-it-safe family adventure that makes the audience feel good about themselves.
At least that’s how we viewed it as children. Watch this movie today and all you can notice is the play by the numbers storyline and the now dated special effects which brought Casper and his three Neanderthal uncles to life. The performances, however, might be the biggest problem of the movie.
President Whitmore Bill Pullman seems to be just going through the motions and Cathy Moriarty, who showed so much promise in Raging Bull, is one over-the-top villain. If you have fond memories of Casper the Friendly Ghost, make sure you maintain Casper’s status as the unseen ghost, safely tucked away in your VHS drawer.
6. Homeward Bound (1993)
Talking animals were all the rage in the ’90s, featuring in everything from Babe to the aforementioned Doctor Dolittle. You might remember a film that exploited this catchy trend, Homeward Bound, which has the voices of Michael J. Fox as a young pup, Sally Field as a snobby cat, and Don Ameche as an wise old dog. After being left behind while on vacation, the three house pets make the arduous journey across the country in search of their home. The movie is obviously geared at kids from ages 5-8 and for that audience it works. Just don’t expect it to give you that warm fuzzy feeling inside as an adult.
The voice acting, while spot on with great performances from Field and Fox, is pretty distracting, possibly because none of the dogs’ or cat’s lips move in the process. The voice acting is just overdubbed as the animals look at each other, which now looks dated beyond belief. The plot also plays it pretty safe; you know when Sassy the cat goes plummeting into the river she’ll turn up farther along, soaking wet and with a sarcastic quip to boot. Admittedly, most who grew up on this film have good memories of it, and if you want to keep it that way then avoid watching it in your older age.
5. Free Willy (1993)
This film has one of the most iconic shots and one of the catchiest titles for a kid’s movie, but that may be its biggest problem on an age varied demographic. The story centers on a troubled child that forms a connection with an Orca in an aquarium, and after the killer whale fails to wow audiences, the aquarium owners plan to give the poor creature the axe. Naturally it’s up to the boy and his friends to bust the whale out and “free Willy.” The plot goes down the line of proven family-movie clichés. As a kid we don’t notice these burnt-out tropes, but as adults we have no choice but wallow knee deep in the predictability.
Probably the biggest flaw in Free Willy is that the title pretty much tells you what’s going to happenPair that with a shot of Jason James Richter on the cover poster lifting his hand up as Willy makes it past the last rocky wall, and you immediately know how the movie is going to end. That’s about the equivalent of Argo being renamed Freed Hostages and the cover art being a picture of the hostages on board a plane safe and sound.
4. 101 Dalmatians (1996)
Disney loves doing live-action adaptations of their cartoon classics. We’ve got the The Jungle Book coming up soon, as well as a number of others, including a Chip ‘N Dale movie which will no doubt (but hopefully not) be reminiscent of Alvin and the Chipmunks. While this might seem like a new trend, the company’s always been trying to bring their feature length animations to life, and it all started with 101 Dalmatians back in the ’90s. Ye, it was easy to please a child growing up, all you need is a couple funny scenes, a funny villain, and adorable animals we can love. 101 Dalmatians has all three of those things, so of course it hit all the right notes with us as kids.
Today the movie, starring a forgettable Jeff Daniels and over-the-top Glenn Close, comes across as horribly desperate. The story is cockamamie and offers nothing relatable in terms of adults being able to enjoy the movie in their own right. The major problem is that the Dalmatians are just that, regular Dalmatians. In the cartoon they were allowed emotions and could connect with the audience. We don’t have that here so all we have is a bunch of puppies staring at Glenn Close while Daniels frantically runs around looking for them.
3. Dennis the Menace (1993)
Like Richie Rich, Dennis the Menace capitalizes on Hollywood’s brilliant idea to base movies on cartoon funnies from the newspaper. And like Rich, Menace also features a young kid who frequently causes a raucous with a charming sensibility we can all relate to. Dennis is a young kid that has the best intentions but pesters the living daylights out of his grumpy next door neighbor, Mr. Wilson. The trouble maker replaces Wilson’s fake teeth with gum, pours paint on his hamburgers, and hits him square in the face with a flaming marshmallow.
As a kid we might find these antics funny, but now they just seem irritating, to the point where we actually sympathize with Mr. Wilson the curmudgeon. The acting by the child actors in the picture is also pretty lackluster, as is the forced change of heart from Mr. Wilson towards the end. The one saving grace of the movie is Christopher Lloyd’s drifter bad guy who also gets annoyingly pummeled by Dennis.
2. Space Jam (1996)
It’s hard to believe that Space Jam is set to celebrate its 20th anniversary this November. Time flies, and while most of us who grew up in the ’90s were big Space Jam fans, watching the film today shows that that it’s not even close to the level we remember it being. This comedy, which blended live action and animation, was just an excuse to capitalize on Michael Jordan’s success, and as kids we weren’t exactly complaining. All of our favorite Looney Toons like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck got to ball with Jordan and Bill Murray, which was a total blast to watch in theaters.
But that was then and this is now. Today, the film is lucky to run on cable on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Sadly, the mixture of animation and live action just doesn’t hold up, especially when compared to older films who have done it better and more tastefully, like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The story, if you want to call it that, is wafer thin, and while we’re not expecting The Godfather here, it would have been nice of the writers to at least try. Jordan’s not the world’s best actor either, and it definitely shows when Porky Pig proves to have better acting chops than him. What was once an enjoyable movie as kids is now a pretty hollow production that will inevitably be rebooted within the next couple of years. We’re waiting on you, LeBron James.
1. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995)
A lot of movies have aged terribly, but none of them crush fond memories of our childhood more than a repeat viewing of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie. Every kid with a television set in the early ’90s was obsessed with the Power Rangers, which spliced recycled footage from a Japanese program with new storylines about high schoolers that fight hordes of monsters. The Power Rangers were the world’s coolest fighting team, teenagers with attitude, and when it was announced that they were getting their own movie, children everywhere went bananas. Admit it, you dragged your mom and pop to see this flick 2 or 3 times in 1995. Unfortunately, that’s 3 times more than you should watch it now as an adult.
Everything in this movie has become mind-numbingly dated since then. The horribly stilted acting that you didn’t notice years ago is more prevalent than ever as the actors try unconvincingly to show genuine feelings of regret or anger. The fight scenes are even more dated; you don’t have to look too closely to see the wires holding up the Power Rangers as they swing around the set. And the effects, oh the effects. The practical Zord models that were used in the television show are replaced here with computer animations that couldn’t pass nowadays for a B-grade sci-fi movie. If you’re ever feeling nostalgic and want to pop in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, take our advice: don’t. Not surprisingly, Lionsgate will be rebooting the franchise next year, so this could be a chance for the Power Rangers to finally appeal to the adults that grew up on the once beloved franchise.
Did we sufficiently ruin your childhood? Which of your favorite ’90s classics simply don’t hold up? Sound off in the comments below.
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