Why The Age Of The Kids Adventure Movie Is Over

Illustration for article titled Why The Age Of The Kids Adventure Movie Is Over

Not so long ago, movies like The Goonies, Stand By Me, E.T., and many more sent pint-sized explorers out into the wilds of their own neighborhoods to have adventures. But, despite being imitated, they just haven't caught fire the way the once did. Why not? The real reason may actually be off-screen.

In response to this piece on why it was time to stop calling films the new Goonies, a discussion began about why movies like these — where a group of kids venture off to have adventures, seemingly almost entirely on their own — no longer seemed to have the hold on the public's imagination the way they used to.


The reason for this, some commenters argued, is not just that the movies have changed, it's also that childhood itself has also changed. And, in a much more closely-monitored world, those storylines of kids going off on their own resonate less and less:


Movies like the Goonies (or ET, or the Explorers) are no longer possible, because movies like that rely on the exploration of the world of children that is separate from the world of adults, and that world no longer exists. Kids don't go out to build forts in places their parents don't know about, or learn all the best short cuts to the candy store on their bikes. They don't walk home alone to and from school. All play is regulated, either for the sake of safety or the desire of parents to participate in childhood. Kids are raised to be risk averse.

And while teenagers certainly have more independence, the truth is that most people shed the sense of magic inhabiting the world, the feeling that there really could be a dragon behind that rock. The tale of the young lovers making out at the hangout spot is safe for now, though even teenagers are way lamer than they used to be.

But the story of the neighborhood children saving the town is dead, and will remain so as long as parents insist on their kids being in sight at all times. The glaring exception here is one of class - poor kids go more unsupervised. But these days Hollywood only makes popular movies about well to do sheltered kids with perfectly clean kitchens.

Jarod Forest

I otherwise agree with you, except that I would argue that it's not as much a case of the kids being too sheltered - at least where I live - as it is of kids now spending all their time in front of their tablets/phones/playstations/whatever. There's no need to search for adventures outside when you can find limitless entertainment without leaving your room.


That's true, but before we had mobile devices we had video game consoles and PC computers that you can't take outside with you. But if I wanted to go play Mortal Combat - which my otherwise overprotective mom said no to - I would walk to my friends house. The only one supervising that walk was my cat who would follow me around the neighborhood (no joke.) And if a third kid had a game or gizmo neither of us had, we would then simply walk to that third house.

What do you think? Is our more supervised and surveilled world responsible for closing the book on kids exploration movies? And, if so, what do you think has taken its place? Give us your thoughts in the comments.

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I'd pose another question to anyone with kids in this age-range.

How much of the day do your kids not have eyeballs on them?

Do they ever leave the house alone and wander the neighborhood to play with friends? Do they ever want to? Do you ever encourage them to?

As someone who's likely in the "having kids in the next couple of years" phase of life, I'm genuinely curious.