19 Underrated '80s Movies Streaming Now, From ‘An American Tail’ To ‘Working Girl’
It seems like each decade over the past half-century has had a lasting impact on a different pop culture medium. The '60s gave us timeless music, the '70s brought in a new generation of serious filmmakers, the '90s was the golden age of the sitcom, and this millennium's two decades have delivered Peak TV™. The '80s, meanwhile, was the decade of fun at the movies. Shaking off the gritty seriousness of the '70s, the blockbuster movies of the '80s are arguably looked back on with more nostalgia than the cinema of any other decade — but not all '80s movies get the recognition they deserve. There are currently loads of underrated '80s movies streaming now, and they're all worth a watch.
You'll likely be familiar with some of these films, while others may be a mystery to you. But what they all have in common is that, in some way, shape, or form, they are underrated. For example, just about everybody has seen The Land Before Time, but how often is it mentioned among the greatest works of Disney? Never! But it should be, as the dino-adventure packs the same emotional punch and features animation that's just as breathtaking as any of the classics Disney has locked away in its vault. And that's the case with all the films on this list. While some did receive accolades — Working Girl was nominated for six Oscars — none are remembered today with the same sort of passion as '80s mainstays like the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, or Back to the Future series.
So take a look below at 19 underrated '80s gems that you can currently stream on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO Now.
1. 'An American Tail' (Netflix)
A 19th century Russian mouse fulfills his dream of emigrating to America in one of the best animated films of the '80s.
2. 'The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension' (Hulu)
If you're looking for something weird, look no further. This Peter Weller-starrer is one of the strangest films ever made. It's about a brain surgeon/rock star/test pilot who accidentally finds himself in the middle of an interdimensional war.
3. 'Baby Boom' (Hulu, Amazon Prime)
Diane Keaton is a no-nonsense businesswoman who inherits a distant relative's baby against her will in this very '80s romantic comedy.
4. 'Beaches' (HBO)
Is it cheesy? Yes. But those in the know will recognize the charm in this Bette Midler tearjerker from Garry Marshall.
5. 'Big Trouble In Little China' (HBO)
Another weird one, and a cult classic, this Kurt Russell adventure had all the charm and action to be one of the biggest blockbusters of the '80s, but was a box office bomb instead.
6. 'The Dark Crystal' (Netflix, Amazon Prime)
Thanks to the new Netflix series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, this Jim Henson fantasy is finally getting some respect. But for decades it languished — undeservedly — in the shadow of Henson's other full-length fantasy from the '80s, Labyrinth.
7. 'Explorers' (Amazon Prime)
A group of plucky and extremely smart kids build a spaceship and end up meeting some aliens.
8. 'Halloween III: Season Of The Witch' (HBO)
After two Halloween movies featuring masked killer Michael Myers, it was decided that the franchise would become an anthology and feature a new unrelated scary story with every installment. This idea lasted exactly one film before the series reverting back to the Michael Myers formula for Halloween IV, making Halloween III quite the novelty in the series.
9. 'The Land Before Time' (HBO)
In the '80s, Disney was not the animation powerhouse like it's been in basically every other decade both before and since. The decade marked dark times for Disney, which allowed movies from other studios to leave their mark on the genre. This gem from Amblin Entertainment and Don Bluth admirably filled the Mickey Mouse-shaped hole in the decade's heart.
10. 'The Last Unicorn' (HBO)
Another non-Disney animated film, this adaptation of Peter Beagle's beloved novel is one of the best fantasy films of the decade.
11. 'Little Monsters' (Netflix)
Long before Monsters, Inc. made bedroom monsters cute and friendly, Howie Mandel portrayed a truly terrifying nocturnal visitor in this seriously messed up kids movie.
12. 'The Monster Squad' (Hulu)
If the monster-hunting gang from this film had been around to help Fred Savage in this list's previous entry, they could have saved him a lot of trouble.
13. 'Pumpkinhead' (Hulu)
Perfect for Halloween viewing, the directorial debut from special effects master Stan Winston unsurprisingly features one of the coolest creature effects ever made.
14. 'Road House' (Netflix)
Make no mistake, this movie where Patrick Swayze plays a bouncer who saves a town by ripping out bad guys' throats is dumb. But it's the best kind of dumb.
15. 'Stripes' (Netflix)
Before they teamed up for Ghostbusters, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis made a dynamite comedic pairing in this Cold War farce.
16. 'Supergirl' (Netflix)
OK, this is not a good movie by any stretch, but it deserves some recognition as the first major studio film with a female superhero lead.
17. 'Three Fugitives' (HBO)
Martin Short remains one of the most underrated comedic actors ever, and his teaming with Nick Nolte in this film is definitely worth a look.
18. 'Throw Momma From The Train' (Hulu)
Dark comedies don't get much darker than this film about Danny DeVito wanting someone — specifically, Billy Crystal — to kill his mother.
19. 'Working Girl' (HBO)
Some of this 31-year-old film's sexual politics are dated — that's obvious. But Working Girl still had a major impact on how women in the workplace were viewed in American society — something which still needs to be improved all these years later.
The '80s were bursting with great movies. But, as this list proves, not all of them are still raved about today. It's time to change that.