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Do you remember these 70s and 80s kids’ movies?

Parents today can turn to kids’ movies from the 1970s and 1980s for many wonderful teachable moments that still resonate today. For kids who struggle with life lessons, children’s movies often have the answers. In Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, we are treated to a humorous but familiar look at the characteristics of terribly behaved children who are rude, greedy, and selfish; in the end, the rewards go to the honest, kind, and patient child.

Movies of the 70s and 80s tended to have less intense special effects, more happy endings, and humor that is more slapstick than subtle.  Whether the old-timey G and PG movies we love are about our favorite superhero, body-swapping mixup, human-animal connection, underdog athlete, book-loving child, imagination fantasy, or animated story of love and loss, 70s and 80s kids’ movies taught kids valuable life lessons about the importance of honesty, integrity, and kindness to ourselves and others.  

Do you remember these 10 70s kids’ movies?

Going to the movies with kids in the 1970s was certainly a lot cheaper than it is today. The decade started off with average movie ticket prices at just $1.55 in 1970, climbing to an average of $2.52 by 1979.  At the time, more and more local movie theatres were popping up to the delight of parents looking for entertainment that the whole family could enjoy.

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During the 1970s, Hollywood was busily churning out some of the greatest movies of all time like The Godfather, Jaws, The Exorcist, Love Story, American Graffiti, and Saturday Night Fever.  But studio executives were also discovering major box office success with movies for children and families, including some blockbusters.  Here’s our top 10 list of the best children’s movies from the 1970s you can watch at home right now 

Do you remember any of these classics? Let us know on Twitter.

1. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), Rated G

“Good day, Sir!” Originally a book called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by the legendary Roald Dahl, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a fantastical story about a man named Willy Wonka (brilliantly played by Gene Wilder), owner of the famous Wonka Chocolate Factory, who sponsors a contest for children.

There are five Golden Tickets hidden in his chocolate bars, and whoever finds them will get to spend a special day touring the Wonka Chocolate Factory and receive a lifetime supply of chocolate. Mr. Wonka tempts each child as a test of their character, and it’s poor, humble Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum) who wins the day. This movie has spawned a popular remake, real-life versions of the candies prominently featured like the Everlasting Gobstopper, and even a band named Veruca Salt (“I want it NOW!”) named for the brattiest, but most memorable, of the child characters played by Julie Dawn Cole. Plus, Nicki Minaj referenced Willy Wonka in her verse on the song “Monster.”

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Where to watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Buy or rent Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on Amazon

2. Superman (1978), Rated PG

Christopher Reeves is the original Superman and played the superhero part to perfection. The movie is based on the DC Comics character of the same name about a man of steel fighting for “truth, justice, and the American way.” Originally from the planet Krypton, Clark Kent is masquerading as a regular person but uses his special powers in a kind, compassionate manner with a sense of duty to right the wrongs in the world. The movie stars Marlon Brando as his father Jol-El, Gene Hackman as archnemesis Lex Luthor, and Margot Kidder as Lois Lane. 

Where to watch Superman: Buy or rent Superman on Amazon

3. Rocky (1976), Rated PG

Set in the city of Philadelphia, Rocky is the story of a poor, Italian-American fighter who earns a shot at becoming the heavyweight champion of the world. Written by Sylvester Stallone who also stars as Rocky the 70s movie tells the story of a fighter’s coming of age in the boxing world, including unconventional workouts with his trainer Mickey (Burgess Meredith), his “cornerman” and friend Paulie (Burt Young), and falling in love with Adrian (Talia Shire). A true underdog story right to the end, Rocky faces off against the reigning champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) for one of the most unexpected movie endings of all time. 

The original Rocky was such a massive success, it launched a hugely successful franchise series with eight sequels, in total earning more than $1.5 billion at the box office. In November of 2020, Rocky celebrated its 40th anniversary with 40 years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic, a documentary-style look back at the making of the film narrated by Sylvester Stallone.  

Fun fact: turtles Cuff and Link are real-life pets of Sylvester Stallone and are still alive today, despite being featured in the original 1976 movie!

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Where to watch Rocky: Buy or rent Rocky on Amazon

4. The Black Stallion (1979), Rated G

Based on the 1941 classic children’s novel of the same name, this movie starring Teri Garr and Mickey Rooney explores wild freedom and willfulness through a beautiful story about a boy and a horse. The boy and “The Black” rescue each other throughout this movie, which lurches from one heartwarming moment to another. For parents keen on a happy ending and who would prefer a spoiler alert over a traumatized child, there’s no Old Yeller ending here. 

Where to watch The Black Stallion: Buy or rent The Black Stallion on Amazon

5. The Muppet Movie (1979), Rated G

This first film featuring the Muppets is produced by Jim Henson, the original creator of the Muppets characters. It features cameo appearances by Dom DeLuise, James Coburn, Steve Martin, and Mel Brooks. The film tells the origin story of how the characters met on their way to Hollywood. We won’t keep you guessing: it was love at first sight for Miss Piggy and Kermit. In this 1979 original Muppets movie, we see the wit and antics that came to define the later movies and Muppets franchise. The Muppet Show’s February 2021 arrival to Disney+ has re-ignited Muppet mania. The Muppets movies and characters have marked our culture so indelibly that NPR recently ran a contest for listeners to vote on “Best Muppet.” Kermit won.  

Where to watch The Muppet Movie: Watch The Muppet Movie on Disney+

6. The Shaggy D.A. (1976), Rated G

Produced by Walt Disney Productions, this comedy is inspired by a 1923 novel The Hound of Florence and is a sequel to The Shaggy Dog (1959). This 70s kids’ movie stars Suzanne Pleshette, Tim Conway, Dean Jones, and Dick Van Patten. This movie is fun for the whole family as it tells a story of a good guy versus a bad guy using a classic Disney gimmick of a supernatural force. The Shaggy D.A. is one of the early themes of swapping bodies or souls with another. Who can resist the spell of an Old English sheepdog?  

Where to watch The Shaggy D.A: Watch The Shaggy D.A. on Disney+

7. Charlotte’s Web (1973), Rated G

Based on the 1952 book of the same name by E.B. White, this animated musical drama features the voice of Debbie Reynolds as Charlotte. The movie premiered at Radio City Music Hall and is produced by Hanna-Barbera, better known for TV cartoons like The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and Scooby-Doo. In Charlotte’s Web, farmer Homer’s miraculous pig gets to “live to a ripe old age,” thanks to the friendship between Wilbur and Charlotte the spider. Charlotte spins her web full of words like “radiant,” and the whole barn shimmers with the activity of life. Love knows no bounds in this movie. It’s “TERRIFIC! TERRIFIC! TERRIFIC!” (in the words of the goose). In the portrayal of a profound friendship, this movie reminds parents and kids that everyone is unique and irreplaceable. Even when Charlotte’s 514 children are hatched, and 511 of them leave the farm, the three that remain are named by Wilbur. As much as he loves the charming Joy, Nellie, and Aranea, Wilbur is still bereft. No one will ever replace Charlotte. Sniff. 

Where to watch Charlotte’s Web: Watch Charlotte’s Web on Amazon Prime Video

8. Freaky Friday (1976), Rated G

Did you know Freaky Friday is considered one of the earliest body-switcheroo plotlines that set the stage for the seemingly endless run of 80s kids’ movies (and beyond) with a similar theme? 

The concept was so popular, it inspired movies like 18 Again!; All of Me; Like Father, Like Son; Vice Versa; and, of course, the biggest blockbuster of them all — Big.

In Freaky Friday, we are treated to Jodi Foster as 13-year-old Annabelle Andrews, the rough-and-tumble daughter of Mom Ellen (Barbara Harris). After a particularly heated argument, the two wish they could trade places, and magically — because it’s Friday the 13th — they do! Hilarity ensues, lessons are learned, and mutual respect begins. 

Where to watch Freaky Friday: Watch Freaky Friday on Disney+

9. Benji (1974), Rated G

Movies featuring animals as lead or prominent characters enjoyed widespread popularity in the 1970s and Benji was no exception. This was, hands-down, my favorite movie as a child. I loved it so much that I had my kids watch it, who loved it so much they voted to name our new puppy Benji.

Written and directed by Joe Camp, the star of this movie is Benji, a stray, mixed-breed dog who lives in an abandoned house and visits neighbors and townspeople each day for food, love, and companionship. Over time, the dog bonds with Paul and Cindy, a brother and sister whose father dislikes dogs but whose housekeeper, Mary, loves Benji, too. The story has mystery (a double kidnapping!), suspense (a ransom!) and plenty of loyal doggie love between Benji and his humans and Benji and his doggie girlfriend, Tiffany. Made on a small budget of $500,000, the movie was a huge success, grossing $45