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Dublin: 10 °C Monday 18 March, 2019

Countless childhood films from the 90s passed me by: Which one do I need to watch?

School me.

I KNOW SOME people who never learned how to ride a bike.

I know other people who never learned how to swim.

And I also know people who never learned how to do either; something I discovered the hard way when they told me that they used to know how to swim but had since ‘forgotten’.

Naturally, I told them that you can’t just ‘forget’ how to swim because it was just like riding a bike; something I then discovered they were also unable to do.

awkward silence Source: Giphy

A Nickelodeon devotee as a child, I didn’t exactly have a reputation for being excessively active, but I was rarely off my bike or my rollerblades when outside the house.

If I wasn’t flung on the couch with Sister Sister reflecting in the lenses of my glasses, I was perched above two wheels or awkwardly maneuvering my way around on eight.

When I hear that other people never mastered the art of cycling as a child, I invariably – and with all the charm of Alan Partridge – ask them what the hell they spent their childhoods doing.

And this is generally when I’m reminded of the myriad things I didn’t do or have as a kid; activities and toys that many would believe encompass a standard childhood in 1990s Ireland.

I never climbed a tree any higher than its first branch. I never got chased by a farmer whose land I was trespassing on despite pretending I once did. I never jumped into a body of water bigger than a puddle. I never helped build a treehouse, scale a wall taller than myself or go up against a mate at Quasar.

I didn’t own a Dream Phone. I never got my hands on a Baby G watch, and Adidas rip-offs never made their way into my wardrobe.

I didn’t own a hairband that had my name applied on the top in glitter glue. I never got a Furby, and no matter how many times I asked Santa Claus, Mr Frosty never appeared in my living room on Christmas morning.

Those ‘revelations’ are generally noted with little to no interest by those reflecting on their childhoods with me, but this always changes when talk turns to films.


If I was perplexed as to how they spent their formative years without a bike, they’re even more baffled as to how I navigated childhood and adolescence without ever seeing countless films which are generally considered mandatory viewing if you were born in the 1980s.

And with the benefit of hindsight, they have a point.

When people my age reflect on the films which helped shape their childhood, I generally respond that I think I’ve seen bits of it, or I always turned it off the moment it came on, or the whole franchise just plain passed me by.

So, for context, I have never seen, among many, many others…

  • Hocus Pocus
  • The Mask
  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
  • Mulan
  • Hook
  • The Mighty Ducks
  • The Addams Family
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol
  • Any Harry Potter film* 

*Yes, it’s noughties, but it gets a special mention given its cultural impact.

Oh, and up until last December, I had never seen Elf. Yeah, I know.

So, it turns out you can learn to ride a bike at any age, but I’ll never be able to watch one of these modern-day classics through the eyes of a child again.

That won’t stop me trying, however.

So, which one do you think it’s imperative I watch if I want anyone to believe I genuinely was a child of the 90s?

Poll Results:

25% Hocus Pocus (796)

17% The Mighty Ducks (533)

13% Any Harry Potter film (421)

11% The Muppet Christmas Carol (344)

7% Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (241)

6% Hook (195)

5% The Addams Family (174)

4% The Nightmare Before Christmas (154)

4% The Mask (140)

2% Mulan (89)


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About the author:

Niamh McClelland

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