This weekend’s “Super 8” looks awesome because it’s directed by J.J. Abrams, produced by Steven Spielberg and features badass kids saving their town from an unseen monster. It’s reminiscent of ’80s cinema when children regularly saved adults from bad situations. We’re not talking about cartoonish plots like “Spy Kids” or “Agent Cody Banks,” but films we still like watching. There are a couple strong examples since the ’80s and those are highlighted below, but we’re hoping “Super 8″ starts a badass kid film renaissance.
A few notes on our selections: Teens do not count, and the kids have to be the ones to save everyone. Feral Kid from “The Road Warrior,” while a definite badass, needed Mad Max to save him. The Pevensie siblings from “The Chronicles of Narnia” are too whiny and British. And Peter Pan doesn’t count because he could be 75 years old.
6. Mikey Walsh in “The Goonies”
Sean Astin would go on to be Rudy, Samwise Gamgee and now a politician, but he began as Mikey, leader of The Goonies. When the Goon Docks’ neighborhood faces foreclosure, Mikey forces Mouth, Data, Chunk, Brand, Andy and Stef on a hunt for the buried treasure of One-Eyed Willie. They face the Fratellis crime family, Indiana Jones-esque booby traps and freaky skeletons to get the loot to save their parents’ houses.
5. Sean Crenshaw in “The Monster Squad”
Crenshaw and his boys in The Monster Squad had been preparing for the day they’d fight the supernatural by building a cool clubhouse, studying every horror film and translating Van Helsing’s diary. The town is lucky they did because Count Dracula, a werewolf, a mummy, Frankenstein’s monster and Swamp Thing all invade at once.
4. Atreyu in “The Neverending Story”
In Fantastica, Atreyu may be a boy, but he’s the bravest warrior around. He rides a flying luckdragon that looks like a dog, fights Gmork the werewolf, figures out how to fix the “Nothing” hurting his land and leads a revolt against Bastian when his human greed for power becomes too great. It’s no wonder the popular metal-core band Atreyu took his name in badass honor.
3. Sam Emerson and Edgar Frog in “The Lost Boys”
Santa Carla, California, is full of teenage vampires and no one is doing a thing about it. We’re not talking pleasant, emotional teen vamps like Edward Cullen, either. The flick brings Coreys Feldman and Haim together in their best project (until “The Two Coreys”). While they do need some help from Grandpa in the end, they’re still responsible for wining most of the vampire fight.
2. Harry Potter in the “Harry Potter” series
By “The Deathly Hallows,” Harry Potter is a teen, but he’d already proven himself to be a real tough guy multiple times. He fights off Voldemort’s efforts to kill him, jealous classmates, giant spiders, adult wizards and giant snakes, all while putting up with the lofty expectations of being the greatest wizard ever. If something goes wrong at Hogwarts, you can bet it’ll be Potter’s problem to deal with.
1. Cole Sear in “The Sixth Sense”
As a child, you’re scared of the dark, your closet, mean teachers, big dogs, two-wheeled bicycles…the list goes on. Those fears dissipate with age, but you know what is still scary as an adult? Ghosts. Roll your eyes all you want, but if you’re alone and a door opens by itself, you’ll piss yourself in fear. Now imagine being a kid and seeing ghosts constantly. In fact, imagine ghosts actually seek you out. That’s why Cole Sear, although puny, has ice water in his veins. Plus, at the end, you realize he’s been doing it all alone because (MOST SPOILED SPOILER ALERT OF ALL TIME) Bruce Willis is a ghost!