Oh, the 90s, the golden age of cartoons, music, and kids movies. Or, at least that's what all of us born in the 90s think because we idealize our childhood. Either way, to someone born in the 90s, certain pieces of media defined our youth, like many of the movies below.
Some of the most magical films for kids to be churned out in the 90s, you'll no doubt get a hug rush of nostalgia just be seeing the posters for these movies. So get prepared for a few childhood flashbacks and that odd sensation where you feel super old in our list of 30 kids movies from the 90s you totally forgot about.
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
You know what will make you instantly depressed when thinking about Homeward Bound? The fact that every animal in the movie has been dead for years. Actually, that's true for every movie in the 90s featuring an animal. Wow, sorry to bring you down like that, but I just shed a tear for Air Bud, so I'm right there with you.
Nowadays, a movie like 3 Ninjas would get panned for being an example of cultural appropriation or racially insensitive. Fortunately, stuff like that could fly in the 90s, which is why a movie about three white kids getting trained by their Japanese grandfather (even though they don't look related at all) to be ninjas totally got produced. Good thing, too, because 3 Ninjas always delivers on a dose of nostalgia.
Dunston Checks In
Befriending a jewel-stealing orangutan became my life goal after watching Dunston Checks In. Unfortunately, 5-year-old me never achieved that ambition, but at least I could watch Dunston (played by the esteemed Sam the Orangutan) get into zany antics and save a hotel, or whatever the movie is actually about. All I remember is wanting an orangutan.
A Goofy Movie
Goofy finally got the credit he deserved in the mid-90s, finally breaking off from his posse that was just holding him back, Zayn Malik-style. More than just about the laughs, A Goofy Movie seriously played with your heartstrings. That scene where you realize why Goofy doesn't have a wife nor his son a mom...that shit was real.
No other film in the last 20 years has knocked Hocus Pocus from its place as being the Halloween movie, and that isn't going to change any time soon. The triple-threat of Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker (who looked way better as a witch, tbh), and Kathy Najimy made for movie magic, and the movie is even better when you watch it now.
If you needed a lesson on how "the world is awful and will keep on shitting on your life" when you were a kid (and lets be honest, a lot of is did) then My Girl was the movie to give it to you. Vada, the movie's protagonist, keeps getting hit with emotional blow after blow, with her mom dying, her dad being an ass, then her first-ever boyfriend dying from a hornets sting, and you feel every single tragedy. My Girl taught me life is rough, something we all need to learn sometime.
Screw Home Alone, Richie Rich, or that movie with Elijah Wood where he's evil, The Pagemaster is the greatest Macaulay Culkin movie of the 90s. Half live-action, half-animated, The Pagemaster took you through a magical journey through literature that was so fun it almost made reading cool. Almost, because Patrick Steward, Whoopi Goldberg, and Leonard Nemoy can only do so much.
You know how, sometimes, you watch an old kid's movie and think "oh my God, they made this for children?" Much like Mufasa's death scene in The Lion King, The Witches is one of those movies. Creepier than most horror movies, The Witches instills fear into all viewers, because whether you're a kid or not, those witches are incredibly creepy.
Harriet The Spy
Before Michelle Trachtenberg was The Slayer's sister or the hot chick in Eurotrip, she was clue-finding and curious to the point of being intrusive eleven-year-old Harriet, who was also a spy. Filled with lessons on friendship, family, and understanding (as kids movies are wont to do), Harriet The Spy also really made you wish your life was half as interesting as Harriet's.
Drop Dead Fred
On the surface, Drop Dead Fred is a fun movie about a woman and her imaginary friend who just won't go away. Below the obvious story, however, is a narrative about prescription medication and how they destroy the imagination of children. Ok, maybe I'm reading a bit too much into Drop Dead Fred, but either way, the movie is straight up fantastical.
90s kids movies were really big on the whole "having a monkey for a pet" thing (and TV shows, for that matter. Everyone remember Marcelle from Friends?), and Monkey Trouble is probably the best example. Dodger was pretty much the cutest thing ever, and far easier to take around than an orangutan (sorry Dunston), thus making him the ideal pet for an entire generation of kids. You know you wanted Dodger, or any monkey, too.
John Leguizamo is so young and adorable in this movie, I really can't even. And that opening theme song and shower scene? Too much. The rest of The Pest is similarly zany and nonsensical (who would agree to be hunted by a racist German bounty hunter?), and that's what makes it amazing.
The Big Green
If you played soccer as a kid, you could relate to The Big Green, especially if your team kind of sucked. A classic tale of the loser team eventually achieving greatness, The Big Green gave all of us uncoordinated kids hope that one day maybe we could actually get a medal or a trophy for playing sports. It was a serious blow to later learn that only happened in the movies.
The Secret Garden
A little bit of a tear-jerker, The Secret Garden also had moments that made your heart light up with happiness, making it an emotional rollercoaster to say the least. Sure, the main characters parents die and she's kind of a bitch in the beginning, but by the end things lighten up, so you can re-watch this 90s movie and not finish feeling all depressed.
The Land Before Time
The original that spawned a plethora of sequels that continues to this day, The Land Before Time is entrenched in the memories of all 90s kids. Probably the only movie that made a leaf look delicious, The Land Before Time had plenty of sad moments to make you tear up, with all the feels bolstered by the fact that, eventually, all those dinos were gonna die and become oil.
The NeverEnding Story
Another one of those kids movies that is also strangely terrifying, The NeverEnding Story was definitely drummed up by some people on the best drugs ever. Technically an 80s movie, any 90s kid surely saw this one more than a few times, just from when it played on TV alone.
The Indian in the Cupboard
If 3 Ninjas is a tad culturally insensitive by today's standards, then The Indian in the Cupboard would definitely be labelled straight up racist. Didn't the creators know it's not okay to say "Indian" when referring to First Nations peoples? Of course not, this was the 90s, but regardless, The Indian in the Cupboard is a beloved kids movie of the era. Does loving this movie make you racist? Probably, but it's a little late for that now, you racist.
A Kid In Arthur's Court
Following the classic plot of "child gets transported to magical land, child becomes hero," A Kid In Arthur's Court wasn't all that groundbreaking, but it was still fun. And can we just talk about what a little wuss Arthur is in this movie? This is the dude who wields Excalibur and is the biggest badass in English lore? I think not.
It's kind of sad to think about how Pauly Shore and Brendan Fraser used to be big movie stars, and are kind of just nobodies today. Fortunately we can relive their Hollywood glory days with movies like Encino Man. Ridiculous at its core, Encino Man is a fine piece of history, showcasing just how weird 90s teen fashion was.
No list of 90s kids movies would be complete without a Robin Williams movie (or a few), and on ours we're going with what I regard as the best of the decade: Hook. Reimagining the Peter Pan tale, Hook brought in so many more narrative elements to create a film that still stands the test of time today. Honestly, just give it another watch this weekend and experience all the feels.
A 90s movie set in the 60s, The Sandlot (or The Sandlot Kids if you're Australian) is built on nostalgia. The movie was also a shining example of how amazing summer is to a kid, being able to do whatever you want all day and just play. Personally, the movie also made me really want to play baseball, which I would never do because I was too busy Pokemon'ing, but I hope some more active-and-healthy kids actually did.
The Power Rangers Movie
Two words: Ivan Ooze. That guy scared the crap out of me when I watched this movie in theatres, to the point that I had to leave the cinema. And since I basically forced my mom and sister to watch it, they were no doubt kind of annoyed. The Power Ranger's first foray into the big screen, the movie stayed true to the roots of the show, except for the change-up in actors for the Yellow and Black Rangers. I guess Hollywood couldn't handle having an Asian person play the Yellow Ranger or someone of African-descent be the Black Ranger, because yes, it's more than a little racist.
Ernest Goes to Camp, Ernest Saves Christmas, Ernest Goes to Jail, Ernest Scared Stupid, Ernest Rides Again, Ernest Goes to School, Slam Dunk Ernest, Ernest Goes to Africa, Ernest in the Army; the list goes on. Well, actually it doesn't, but you get the point: if you were a kid in the 90s, you watched an Ernest movie. Or five.
Jingle All The Way
Oh, Arnie. It tickles my heart to see the action star try to do family-comedy roles, especially since you can see him struggle to say every single line, with all the other actors barely being able to understand whatever the hell he's saying. One of my favourite Christmas movies ever, Jingle All The Way makes you wish Arnold was a comedy actor...unless he has been the entire time.
The Mighty Ducks
A blessing to all Canadian children who played hockey growing up, The Mighty Ducks made hockey Hollywood-level cool. Combine the fact that Pacey from Dawson's Creek played the leading role, and you have what may be the 90s movie for Canadian kids.
Okay, we all know that a sequel to Space Jam is in the works, but lets take a minute to forget the fact that the new one may ruin our childhood memories and just pay our respects to the original. Sure, Michael Jordan couldn't act, nor could any of the other pro sports players who appear, but hey, give the guy a break. His only co-stars were animated characters, and considering that, MJ didn't do too bad a job.
Pretty much the dream for any young kid, Blank Check filled your mind with dreams of what you would do with a million dollars. Back then you probably just wanted the Spice Girls minibus (and that hasn't changed for me) or a Power Rangers inflatable castle (again, still same), but none of us would ever be lucky enough to get a legit blank check like in the movie.
Honestly, the kid in Problem Child remains one of the sassiest mother-truckers of all time. That line he says about how grown men shouldn't wear so much damn blue (upon meeting his new foster father, clad in a Canadian tuxedo) remains one of my favourite lines in film history. Truly, Problem Child should have been named Sassy Queen. Hopefully the remake will be.
I have a running theory that Mathilda is actually the prequel to Carrie. Given Mathilda's somewhat traumatic childhood and telekinetic powers, it makes sense she would grow up to be an emotionally fragile shut-in like Carrie, one abused by a foster mom after she accidentally kills Ms. Honey. Okay, maybe that's a stretch, and Matilda is far too cutesy of a movie for that. Lets also take a moment to remember Bruce Bogtrotter, the boy who ate all the cake.
Okay, when I watched Fluke as a four-year-old, I seriously cried my eyes out. I mean, even after the main character (who was reincarnated into a dog) finds peace after kinda-reconnecting with his family, he's still a frigging man trapped in a dog's body who will never be able to raise his son or love his wife. Yes, me at age four was that grim, but it's true. Fluke is heartbreaking.