19 Movies That GenXers Absolutely Love


Written by:

Generation X is famous for three things – apathy, grunge music, and social media memes about how their parents were negligent. However, if you dig a little deeper, you may find that there are some classic movies associated with this much-maligned demographic.

 This cohort, born between 1965 and 1980, made certain movies popular that spoke to them directly, and a few of them even went on to make their own movies that resonated with their contemporaries. Here are 19 of those movies, and whether Gen Xers made them or just went to see them, they’re inextricably linked to their lives, even the stupid ones.

Image Credit: MediaFeed / DALL·E 3.

1. ‘The Breakfast Club’ (1985)

Directed by John Hughes, “The Breakfast Club” features an ensemble cast that includes Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, and Emilio Estevez. They play a group of teenagers imprisoned in an all-day detention one Saturday at their high school for various offenses and represent different teenage stereotypes, which resonated with then-adolescent Gen Xers. At the end of the movie, they learn that they are all uniquely marvelous, like snowflakes. The “makeover” that Ally Sheedy’s goth character receives in this movie is a crime against humanity.


Image Credit: IMDb.

2. ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ (1986)

To the extent that “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’” has a plot, it involves a high school kid played by Matthew Broderick and his friends, portrayed by Alan Ruck and Mia Sara, who all cut school together. Another John Hughes joint, the movie inspired a lot of things that people still talk about today – if you ask a group of people a question and are met with an awkward silence, this movie is why some people will break that silence by saying, “Bueller… Bueller… Bueller…” in actor Ben Stein’s monotonous voice.

Image Credit: IMDb.

3. ‘Ghostbusters’ (1984)

Three parapsychology professors, played by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis, lose their jobs and decide that rather than wait tables or take up exotic dancing, they’re going to supplement their incomes by starting a service that rids hotels, libraries, and domiciles of unwanted ghosts. This Ivan Reitman movie remains funny and is still held in high regard by Gen Xers, and it contains such oft-repeated lines of dialogue as “dogs and cats, living together” and “there is no Dana, there is only Zuul.”

Image Credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / IMDB.

4. ‘Dirty Dancing’ (1987)

“Dirty Dancing” was directed by Emile Ardolino and follows the exploits of Frances “Baby” Houseman, played by Jennifer Grey. Spending the summer at a Catskills resort with her family, “Baby” falls for smoking hot dance instructor Johnny, played by Patrick Swayze in one of his most famous performances. Swayze sadly passed away in 2009, and in all that time, no one has come along to say, “Nobody puts ‘Baby’ in a corner” with as much conviction and righteous anger.

Image Credit: IMDb.

5. ‘Stand by Me’ (1986)

“Stand by Me” is a very sweet movie directed by Rob Reiner and based on the Stephen King short story “The Body.” It tells the story of a group of middle school boys, portrayed by Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell,  who go off together to see a dead body in the woods. The movie defies its somewhat grim premise and keeps its focus on the young actors’ performances, and today, grown-up Gen Xers are sharing this movie with their own juvenile delinquent tweens. River Phoenix is particularly good in this film, underscoring what a tragedy his early passing was.


Image Credit: IMDb.

6. ‘The Karate Kid’ (1984)

“The Karate Kid” was directed by John G. Avildsen, who directed 1976’s “Rocky” (the good one). A teenage boy from New Jersey named Daniel (Ralph Macchio) moves to California, where he’s picked on by bullies who all look like members of the Hitler Youth. As luck would have it, he happens to meet a master of martial arts (Pat Morita), who teaches “Daniel-san” how to engage in hand-to-hand combat with his tormentors. The martial arts master also gets his car waxed and his house painted for free.

Image Credit: IBDb.

7. ‘Flashdance’ (1983)

A Pittsburgh woman played by Jennifer Beals works as both a welder and an exotic dancer, yet she dreams of bigger things in this Adrian Lyne movie. She wants to go to ballet school, but can she rise up from her blue-collar circumstances to grab hold of this dream? You almost certainly already know the answer to that one, just as you know that she wore legwarmers and a sweatshirt that had been cut so it could be worn off the shoulder, a fashion statement that every adolescent female Gen Xer replicated. You also almost certainly already know that she’s a maniac (on the dance floor).

Image Credit: IMDb.

8. ‘Die Hard’ (1988)

Much has been written about a burning question – is the John McTiernan action film “Die Hard” a Christmas movie? While that debate rages on, let’s just focus on the fact that it’s a solid actioner, none of the sequels were good, and it led to lots of derivative movies like “Under Siege 2: Dark Territory,” whose premise was “’Die Hard’ on a train.” If by some miracle you haven’t already seen this movie, Bruce Willis plays a cop up against terrorists led by Alan Rickman in an office building, and we’re sure you’ll watch it on pins and needles, worrying about the outcome.

Image Credit: IMDB.

9. ‘Goodfellas’ (1990)

The true story of gangster Henry Hill and his fellow mobsters, “GoodFellas” is one of Martin Scorsese’s greatest movies and features incredible performances from its ensemble cast. The fact that it lost the Best Picture Oscar to the completely inferior “Dances With Wolves” is one of the worst, most atrocious things ever to happen in the history of America. If you only watch it for Joe Pesci’s performance as a hotheaded psychopath, that’s fine because you’ll never hear someone say, “Funny how?” the same way ever again. Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta also star in the film, with each turning in some of the best performances of their careers.


Image Credit: IMDb.

10. ‘Reservoir Dogs’ (1992)

“’Reservoir Dog” was Quentin Tarantino’s first movie, and it’s the story of a heist gone wrong in which we never see the actual heist. The ensemble cast, which includes Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, and Michael Madsen, is uniformly excellent, and we see everything leading up to the heist and the bloody aftermath, the latter of which is mostly confined to a single room, giving it the feeling of an ultra-violent stage play. At the time of its release, there was nothing else like it, and Gen Xers welcomed Tarantino’s movie as an example of something that reflected their sensibilities. But what could the director possibly do next to top it?


Image Credit: IMDb.

11. ‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994)

Director Quentin Tarantino followed up “Reservoir Dogs” with “Pulp Fiction,” and when it came out, there had never been anything like it before, including the director’s previous film. From its nonlinear chronology to the tons of screen time given to inconsequential dialogue to its horrific violence, it signaled that “Reservoir Dogs” was not a fluke and that Tarantino was a filmmaker to watch in the future. John Travolta, Uma Thurman, and Samuel L. Jackson all turn in career-defining roles, and Samuel L. Jackson, in particular, was robbed when he didn’t win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

Image Credit: IMDb.

12. ‘Fargo’ (1996)

Poor Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy). A milquetoast car salesman who decides to engage in criminal activity, his tragic ineptitude and lack of long-term planning lead to a trail of bodies racked up by his henchmen, played by Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare. The only person who can possibly bring the perpetrators to justice is Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), a pregnant police officer with a midwestern accent thicker than the odor of lutefisk. Due to its 1996 vintage, it was a favorite of Gen Xers in their 20s, although it’s such a work of high quality that it appealed to lots of different demographics.

Image Credit: IMDB / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc..

13. ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ (1991)

One of the biggest cinematic phenomena that Generation X got to see take place was the transition in movies from practical effects to CGI. “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” was director James Cameron’s sequel to the 1984 original, and it represented a massive technological leap forward in its use of CGI to depict the “liquid metal” Terminator that serves as the movie’s big bad guy, and whom Arnold Schwarzenegger’s less technologically-advanced character must stop at all costs. When you watch it today, it doesn’t seem dated at all, and with just a couple of exceptions, everything in it still works very well.

Image Credit: IMDB.

14. ‘Toy Story’ (1995)

John Lasseter’s “Toy Story” may have been marketed as a children’s movie, but whatever age you happen to be, it remains very relevant. It’s the story of a bunch of kid’s toys, one of whom is a cowboy named Woody (Tom Hanks), who has always been the favorite toy of his owner Andy. Then, one day, the astronaut doll Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) comes in to disrupt everything, and the movie then becomes very relevant to any adult who happens to be watching, particularly adults who have become yesterday’s news to a friend, a significant other, or a workplace. If you were a Gen Xer in your turbulent mid-20s at the time, you may have found yourself on the outs with all three of those things.

Image Credit: IMDb.

15. ‘Repo Man’ (1984)

If you were a Gen Xer with a VCR and a rental VHS copy of “Repo Man” during the Reagan years, then you were sitting pretty. This Alex Cox movie is about a teenage punk rocker (Emilio Estevez) who repossesses cars and eventually learns that one of them defies its status as an ugly jalopy to be worth a huge payday to the repo person who gets their hands on it. The plot is almost a secondary consideration for this movie, which is really much more about the dialogue, the soundtrack, and lots and lots of generic products.  

Image Credit: IMDb.

16. ‘Robocop’ (1987)

1987’s “Robocop,” directed by Paul Verhoeven, stars Peter Weller as the titular cyborg-constable. The movie is an absolutely stinging rebuke of corporate greed and a cautionary tale about what happens when a society starts privatizing everything, such as police. Unfortunately, a lot of people at the time – including teenage Gen Xers – saw it merely as an incredibly violent action movie with no subtext. Today, its message is a lot easier to understand as corporations get their hands into everything. But even if none of that were the case and “Robocop” were just another generic action movie, the melting man scene towards the end would still guarantee its permanent place in the pantheon of great cinema.

Image Credit: IMDb.

17. ‘The Matrix’ (1999)

Whether you liked this movie or not, there was no arguing with the fact that this Lana and Lilly Wachowski effort represented a big step forward in science fiction and in filmmaking in general. The story of a hacker played by Keanu Reeves, he ends up in a very complicated situation that’s a little hard to write in a couple of concise sentences but suffice it to say that when people arguing on Reddit say that they’ve been “red-pilled,” they’re making a reference to this movie. In fact, many of those people arguing about the movie on social media are Gen Xers who feel that the younger folk who saw the movie got its premise all wrong.

Image Credit: IMDB.

18. ‘Fight Club’ (1999)

An insomniac office worker, played by Edward Norton, encounters a man who makes soap, played by Brad Pitt in this David Fincher movie. They form an underground fight club whose purpose is to turn the adult man-babies of the impending 21st century into MEN who pound the crap out of each other because, as we all know, that’s what MEN do. It’s a great movie, but unfortunately, a lot of men didn’t get the fact that it’s a satire and started aspiring to become the self-centered jerks depicted in the movie.

Image Credit: IMDb.

19. ‘Reality Bites’ (1994)

“Reality Bites” is directed by Ben Stiller, who also stars in it alongside Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke. Its release coincided with an economic downturn in the United States, which saw a lot of Gen Xers graduate college with hard-won degrees, only to end up at a soul-destroying, tedious “McJob” with no glory and nominal compensation. At one point in the movie, Winona Ryder is offered a job at the clothing store the Gap, which she disdainfully refuses on the grounds that she’s better than that, what with having a degree and all. Gee, where did Gen X’s reputation as a bunch of whiny complainers who were too good for everything come from?

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

Image Credit: 1994 – Universal Studios / IMDb.

More from MediaFeed

The Best Movies to Watch When You Just Need a Good Cry

Like MediaFeed’s content? Be sure to follow us.

Image Credit: IMDB.