30 ‘Beloved’ Movie Classics That Don’t Hold Up, According to Lifehacker Readers

30 ‘Beloved’ Movie Classics That Don’t Hold Up, According to Lifehacker Readers
Screenshot: The Goonies/Warner Bros.

Earlier this week, I asked you what movies you love that don’t hold up once nostalgia is removed from the equation. To illustrate this, I used the example of the 1991 Steven Spielberg film Hook, in which Robin Williams bounces around in a Peter Pan costume on a set that looks more like a ride at Disney World than a theme park. As I knew would happen, a large number of the comments featured people yelling at me for slamming this undisputed, critic-proof classic of their youths.

Because that’s the thing — it isn’t always obvious where your own nostalgia blind spots are, even if they are easy to spot in the tastes of others. And boy, did a bunch of you have plenty to say about the movies you’ve always found bafflingly beloved. Still, some others were able to take a more critical look back, admitting the films they used to find unimpeachable and infinitely re-watchable are kinda bad, actually — even if they still like to watch them.

And still other people wanted to debate whether any movie can really be “good” or “bad” because art is entirely a matter of taste, and who am I to suggest people are wrong for saying a movie is one or the other. And to those people I saw: Welcome to the internet.

Anyway, here are 30 movies y’all say don’t quite stand the test of time. Mostly I agree — except for Citizen Kane. I mean, really.

The Goonies (1985)

The Goonies is the one ‘80s classic I never managed to see as a kid. By the time I watched it in college, it was too late: It’s ugly, shrill, and, especially these days, deeply problematic. No need to try to instill a love of it in your own kids, let the past die, etc.

“I was [in my 20s] the first time I saw The Goonies, and I did not enjoy it. I’m pretty sure you need to have seen it as a kid in order to appreciate it.” — Duke of Kent

“Everyone I know who grew up on Goonies thinks of it as an amazing fixture of 80s film. Everyone I know who first saw it as an adult thinks it is a schmaltzy, obvious, nonsensical, racist hot mess.” — Jhamin

This one is long, but I’m just including the whole thing, because ouch:

“How about we stop arguing over whether movies are “good” or “bad”, which are entirely subjective and personal even in the presence of a common set of criteria which are rarely established, and instead talk about why we like or dislike a film? For example, instead of saying, ‘Despite being a cult classic, The Goonies is fucking terrible,’ I can say, ‘Due to nostalgia, most people give The Goonies a pass on its racism, sexism, misogyny, ableism, and homophobia that it really doesn’t earn, and even by the standards of the ‘80s, it’s horrifyingly insulting to Italian-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinx individuals, people with different body types, women, people with physical and mental disabilities, and it’s a rare movie where I’m actually grateful that there isn’t a single Black person because if they treated Latina women as superstitious maids, god alone knows what they would have done to a Black kid.” — johnseavey

Where to stream: Stan

Star Wars (1977/1997)

For years I’ve responded to those defending the Star Wars prequels with claims that the original movies also had bad acting and cheesy dialogue with assertions that, no, they don’t. But maybe they do? I know my kids won’t watch them, because they think they are boring. And Lifehacker Editor-in-Chief Jordan Calhoun, who didn’t grow up with the movies and thought the Ewoks were “little dog-like muppets,” called Return of the Jedi “objectively bad.” Hmmm.

“I think there is a heavy bias on the original Star Wars movies. I don’t think they are good movies, and I am huge sci-fi movie fan. I understand the nostalgia of seeing those movies back in the day. But if you take out all the fan fest and all that, they are very dry movies with a not so great premise.” — Kyle

“It’s just terrible filmmaking, glorified by nerds like me for whatever emotional reasons over the past few decades.” — ExtraDas

Where to stream: Disney+

Citizen Kane (1941)

Wait, what? No. C’mon. What? This comment had 14 stars and several other people mentioned it, so I am including it…grudgingly.

“Citizen Kane (I get it was influential, but what a BOREFEST.)“ — SenorValasco

Where to stream: Youtube Movies

Young Frankenstein (1974)

I really like this movie, but I will freely admit that it might not be funny unless you do your homework first — which means watching the old horror movies it parodies. If you have to have nostalgia for the movies a nostalgic favourite is nostalgically spoofing, maybe nostalgia really is the only thing it has going for it. (“Roll, roll, roll in zee hay!” still seems funny though.)

“I’ve heard from so many old farts how hilarious this movie is. I re-watched it recently and don’t think I laughed at all – I had to turn it off after an hour because it was so dull. I’m guessing maybe it was funny by 1970’s comedy standards, but it does not hold up.” — HumptyDance

Hackers (1995)

“Hackers. Absolute trash movie that I will watch every time it’s on.” — von Funnyname

“Agreed. I have this in multiple physical formats. I love it. It is not a good movie, but it’s a good time.” — MisterDaku

I was going to agree with both of the above, but maybe that means Hackers is just good, actually?

“I have seen Hackers, easily, 100 times. I fucking adore that movie, 100% unironically, and I guarantee that damn near everyone is in on it. Maybe Johnny Lee Miller and Jolie aren’t, but everyone else absolutely is, they’re too fun not to be.” — Gene Jacket

Where to stream: Stan

Top Gun (1986)

When I was 5, my parents went on vacation and left us with the neighbours. They all wanted to go out and see Top Gun, so they called my folks to ask if we could go with. My dad said no because he had heard there were boobs in it. I was very mad — not about the boobs, but because I wanted to see the planes. For years I never understood what my friends were talking about when they talked about Maverick and Iceman (who I naturally assumed could shoot ice from his hands). I didn’t end up watching the movie until last year, during the pandemic. It runs out my dad did me a favour: Top Gun is a plotless commercial for the military, and I hated it. Plus, no boobs.

Top Gun is bad.” — endlessben

“A masterpiece commercial for the US Airforce, yes. But still a bad movie. But it would have been my entry for this. I loved Top Gun when I was 7.” — justdan

Where to stream: Stan

The Breakfast Club (1985)

Any number of John Hughes movies could have been nominated for this slideshow, but I support this choice. This is the right answer. This, or maybe Sixteen Candles.

“Some of the John Hughes movies don’t hold up very well (in particular The Breakfast Club, but also Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink). Others do ok (Planes, Trains, & Automobiles is still pretty damn good). Ducky [from Pretty in Pink] is pretty damn toxic. But everything about Breakfast Club is worse.” — tedboone

“Breakfast Club. Yeah, I said it.” — @flearhcp97 (on Twitter)

Where to stream: Foxtel Go

Space Jam (1996)

I was 15 when Space Jam came out, and a few years past my Looney Tunes t-shirt phase, so I skipped it. Also, I could just tell it was bad.

“Space Jam for me, I’ll never watch it again because I know without a doubt I’ll hate it.” — MrSimm

“Fucking Space Jam. It’s shit.” — Greg Hyatt

“Space Jam. I still love it, but I cannot watch it.” — BlueRidgeTrekkin

Where to stream: Youtube Movies

Ghostbusters (1984)

WHen everyone was so mad about the 2016 Ghostbusters committing sacrilidge by recasting the roles with women, all I could think was “…her?” I mean, whatever. It’s fine.

“Listen, one of my favourite movies is Ghostbusters. I adore it. I also completely get why a younger person watching it thinks it’s slow and unfunny.” — EmIsMe

“Ghostbusters. The entire Venkman-Dana arc is super problematic and creepy, with Venkman stalking her, barging into her apartment, and generally not taking no for an answer. When they kiss at the end, you have to wonder… where was the romance that this is supposed to be the payoff for?” — OnceInAMillenia

(Someone pointed us to the comments section of The A.V. Club’s retrospective review of Ghostbusters, where you can “enjoy” many arguments, both for and against it.)

Where to stream: Foxtel Go

All of the James Bond movies (1963 — 2021)

This suggestion came from Mike Winters, our finance writer, and since today is his last day, I feel safe enough calling him out by name. Not that I disagree: I am into James Bond enough to the point that I listened to every episode of a podcast that went through each film one-by-one twice, but I still think the vast majority of them are nearly unwatchable as anything but time capsules.

“Casino Royale and Skyfall are the only Bond movies I ever want to watch. I wonder how they’ll hold up in ~20 years.” — Leoz Maxwell Jilliumz

Where to stream: Look there are 26 of these things, you figure it out

A Christmas Story (1983)

I’ve seen this movie way too many times to be objective about it; so many of my memories of it are tied up in Christmas traditions, and Christmas traditions are the worst for nostalgia. It does have a bit of a Garrison Keillor feel though, doesn’t it?

“It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story. Both of those movies are terrible and I can’t believe people watch them every year.” — JimFive

“I don’t know if I like any movies where I can identify that it’s just based on nostalgia, observer bias I guess. There are plenty of movies other people like that I don’t get and that may be based on nostalgia. Looking at you, Goonies and A Christmas Story.” — Adamixoye

Where to stream: Youtube Movies

Forrest Gump (1994)

I cried at that stupid feather along with everyone else, but considering what a phenomenon it was at the time, it’s pretty wild that Forrest Gump the least fondly remembered of that year’s big Oscar films. (It’s also a big part of the reason my wife shows strong resistance to watching any Tom Hanks film, which sucks because he’s usually a pretty safe bet.)

“Might get some hate for this, but I gotta say Forrest Gump. Not only is it a bad and boring movie with no story and no interesting characters, it relies on double nostalgia — nostalgia for the time periods depicted in the movie (whether or not you actually experienced them first hand, it’s clear that the point of showing a “normal guy” being present throughout so many parts of 20th century history is to connect to people who have feelings for those things) as well as the regular nostalgia for when you saw it the first time.” — Platypus Man

“Forrest Gump was ALWAYS trash. Good on you for seeing through all the BS!” — YourOpinionIsHorrible

Where to stream: Netflix

Caddyshack (1980)

I’ll go one step further and say the early “classic” seasons of Saturday Night Live don’t work in 2021, so it only tracks that all the early ‘80s comedies featuring that legendary cast don’t hold up either.

“Caddyshack is definitely one of those movies for me too. My dad loves it, I didn’t see it until I was a teenager, some 25 years after it came out. I don’t hate it, but I didn’t really get it.” — Yes I drive a 240… Sort of

“I didn’t see it until I was in my 30s, in the 2000s, always heard how funny it was. I don’t think I laughed once. It’s… not a good movie.” — cdeck

“I wasn’t there, but I honestly think comedy was different in the 70s/80s. Watch any SNL-character based movie from the era and it falls flat for anyone born post-1990. There was some very low effort comedy then.” — modularfordfan

“A classic case of a movie where you have to be on the same drugs as the cast to enjoy watching it as much as they enjoyed making it.” — IpZilla

Where to stream: Prime Video

Clue (1985)

A few people mentioned Clue and those comments got some stars, so it makes the list. I personally love it — love a cosy mystery, love extremely dull board games — but it was certainly panned when originally released, so maybe nostalgia is the main factor behind its new cult canon status. That said, this comment:

“Clue. It is great in my memory, and it could still be great except it is tremendously problamatic in all the ways. It’s one of those movies that really could use a re-boot with the right cast.” — Jasnah Kholin

Leaving aside whether Clue is a good movie, it definitely has a great cast (RIP Madeline Kahn).

Where to stream: Youtube Movies

The Boondock Saints (1999)

Lots of guys in the early aughts had posters for The Boondock Saints on their dorm walls. I have one for The Iron Giant. Make of that what you will. Certainly this movie has a…let’s say problematic legacy.

“Boondock Saints, hands down. Several of my younger cousins love this movie, and have for years; when I finally saw it a few years ago, I was genuinely taken aback by just how absolutely, irredeemably shitty it was.” — 2 Fast 2 Spurious

“It’s a better ‘I’m a college freshman, I should have this poster on my wall’ movie than actually being a movie. It’s terrible.” — Batista Thumbs Up

Where to stream: Prime Video

Every Peanuts special

I have an incredible amount of nostalgia for Peanuts and I think the comic strip is a work of genius. I genuinely love Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown. But even though we watch them every year, I kind of hate all the holiday specials. (The music slaps though.)

“Every Peanuts special.” — SenorValasco

“Ugh, right? If I see those little shits bitch about the great pumpkin, or Christmas, one more time…” — zeel

Where to stream: Apple TV+ for some reason

Tron (1982)

I was very excited for Tron: Legacy to come out in 2010, but probably only because I hasn’t rewatched Tron in a long time.

“Everyone thinks they like Tron, but nobody really likes Tron.” — Good Ol’ Uncle Meat

Where to stream: Disney+

The NeverEnding Story (1984)

I can’t argue too hard with this one, because when I showed it to my kid, she told me it was one of the worst movies I ever made her watch. She didn’t even get sad about the horse!

“The Neverending Story…is less fantastic and more boring than you remember, and the horse dies earlier than you think.” — Good Ol’ Uncle Meat

“Yeah, the last time I saw Neverending Story, I was surprised by how early the horse died. Like, he’d barely gone anywhere yet!” — Silverwing548

(I noted this as well. Stupid horse.)

Where to stream: Stan

Hocus Pocus (1993)

One of the movies that inspired me to ask this question in the first place.

“Easily Hocus Pocus. Watched it again this Halloween with my son. He was bored out of his mind. And I just noticed all it’s flaws. But I still love it to this day.” — sanmansan

“Hocus Pocus kind of only really works if you’re familiar with ‘90s culture and how it relates to ‘80s culture. There was the whole Wicca/witchcraft revival thing around that time, people had become aware of the “final girl” trope and were flipping it on it’s head (the whole deal with Max in that movie), children’s horror was in — the movie plays heavily to that now dead sub-genre, and the fact that Disney of all companies made it was a shock at the time.” — Vee

“I’m familiar with all of that but I’m still not a fan of Hocus Pocus.” — Yes I drive a 240… Sort of

Where to stream: Disney+

Drop Dead Fred (1991)

My sister loves this movie. I don’t, because I have taste. (Probably she isn’t reading this.)

“Drop Dead Fred. Enough said.” — emptyaccount (How to you people give yourself these blank Kinja names?)

Where to stream: Youtube Movies

Xanadu (1980)

There is a reason other than nostalgia that people love Xanadu, and it is irony.

“I have friends that LOVE this movie. I had not seen since I was a kid and rewatched recently. OUCH.” — QJ201

“The 80s turned out the way it did because of the insanity that was Xanadu.” — L&T

Where to stream: Youtube Movies

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1981)

Four of you starred this. Now you’re just trolling.

“ET. I watched it several times as a kid, and I just never enjoyed it.” — panthercougar

Where to stream: Stan

Toys (1992)

After Aladdin, Robin Williams was the biggest name in family entertainment, and mine went to see this on opening night. I haven’t seen it since, but I’m still angry at it. I was floored when I learned how many people on the internet think it was unjustly maligned; that maligning was just af.

“My friend loves the movie Toys and to this day I don’t get it. I’ve never been more bored in a movie theatre and when I recently gave it another chance as an adult, I still don’t get it.” — GinsuVictim

Léon: The Professional (1994)

 

Where to stream: Youtube Movies

Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Considering they spelled the title wrong, I’m pretty sure this person actually is trolling. Though it is definitely very of its era in like every way.

“dr stranglove not as funny since cold war over” — 4jim

Where to stream: Apple TV

Grease (1978)

“My wife got me to watch Grease for the first time a few years ago as she remembered it being ‘so good!’ Afterwards we both agreed that it was terrible.” — jomonta2

This applies to Saturday Night Fever as well.

Where to stream: Stan

Beverly Hills Ninja (1997)

Basically everything I said about the SNL cast movies from the early ‘80s applies to the SNL cast movies from the ‘90s. (No plans to rewatch Tommy Boy, is what I’m saying.)

“Beverly Hills Ninja (with Chris Farley) for me. I LOVED that movie when I was a kid probably around 12 or 13.. My best friend and I watched it probably a dozen times, and I remember just rollin’ on the floor laughing. We would stay up all night and watch it a couple times, playing video games, eating junk food. Rolling around n shit. Man, good times. Watched it again recently as a 33 year old man with my Fiance… Yeaaaaaaa. Let’s just she was not impressed.” — Umfozzles

Where to stream: Youtube Movies

The Addams Family (1991)

I got all offended at this one, but then I remembered that no, it’s Addams Family Values I actually like.

The Addams Family is boring and full of hacky jokes, and now I have to watch people go full ‘It’s good, actually’ just because Addams Family Values slaps. No, the first movie stank, and I’d argue that it stank so bad that it turned people off from the sequel.” — Ninja Robot Pirate

Where to stream: Stan

Star Treks II, II, IV (1982–1986)

“Sacrilege!” I shout, along with the rest of the internet. “Actually,” says my wife, who prefers The Next Generation. “Star Trek is all boring,” says my daughter.

“I adored these movies and argued endlessly with my fellow nerd friends about how the USS Enterprise could mop the floor with the entire Imperial fleet, but having rewatched them back during the depths of the pandemic I realised just how poorly acted (obvious exception being Khan himself chewing the scenery) poorly written and just overall silly they were. Yet in the day they were serious science fiction cinema to me.” — OnTwoWheelsAllTheTime

Where to stream: Netflix

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

Jim Carrey was the biggest star in the world in 1994, the year Ace Ventura, Dumb and Dumber, and The Mask all came out. One of those three still holds up.

“Loved it when I was a kid (I was 10 when it came out), and to be honest the first ~75% is still funny, but the overt transphobia of the final act really does not hold up, and knowing it’s coming makes it damn near impossible to enjoy the first 2 acts.” — Brock Samson

Where to stream: Stan

The Monster Squad (1987)

Since we started with The Goonies, we may as well end with this one, which is pretty much The Goonies plus classic monsters. I also didn’t see this one until I was in my 20s, and only then because the internet convinced me it was a gem of the ‘80s. I guess I should have known when the only evidence they could offer up was that joke about the wolfman having “nards.” Of course he has nards, kid. Did you think his dick fell off when he transformed?

“The Monster Squad is another of these movies people have said for years was the bee’s knees, if I hear one more person talk about the wolfman’s testes, I am going to kick them in theirs. Even though I was the target age at the time it came out, I missed it until a few years ago and it’s just not good, it feels incredibly derivative and one-note. The best I can say is it wasn’t absolutely terrible, but that’s it.” — Burners Baby Burners: Discussion Inferno

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