In my adult life, I hear a lot of talk about how kids of a certain age can't distinguish between real life and the fantasy world presented to them in video games, television and movies. This belief is widespread, thanks to politicians like Hillary Clinton and those damned kids in China who keep forgetting to eat while playing World of Warcraft.
Get that grilled cheese out of here dawg, I'm about to level!
As a pop culture fanatic, I like to think that a certain level of absorption into a movie or game is a healthy part of being a kid. There were some movies that I loved so much as a kid because of one certain character - a male character, specifically.
First, allow me to explain what this list is not. This is not a list of actors who were considered hot in the 80s/90s. It usually had little to do with the actor himself, but who he portrayed in the movie that I found attractive.
Also, this list will not include TV characters. You really just didn't get the same kind of story that would make you fall in love with a TV character, and those shows were usually set in modern day so you didn't have that longing to be in another time and place. (Honorable mention - Uncle Jessie)
OK, so without further ado, So here's the rundown of my top 10 childhood movie crushes!
10. Matthew (Martha) - Ladybugs
Johnathan Brandis (RIP) rose to popularity in the awesome 1992 comedy "Ladybugs" where he plays star soccer player Matthew who dresses up as a girl to play on an all-girls team. He does so in order to help out coach Dangerfield, AND (naturally) to get close to KiMbErLy!! ooooOOOooh! Loved how they made them look older in the dream sequence where he imagines getting married to her.
However, when the girl of your dreams thinks you are a chick, it doesn't really fare well in terms of getting any action. The film had lots of moments where this issue came up. Sometimes they were for humor...sometimes they were just awkward.
As you can see, I was pretty into the younger guys at this point, they seemed attainable and I knew from reading my friends' copies of Tiger Beat that I was supposed to be into this type of guy. I loved this movie and since this was around the time I started playing soccer myself, I loved the idea of a cute boy playing on my team. But I never REALLY had too much of a crush on JB, nothing like the top 2 or 3 on this list, which is why he remains on the bottom of the top 10. Here's a clip from the movie where he's clearly made of pure unadulterated testosterone.
9. Atreyu - The NeverEnding Story
Atreyu was a mystery in every way. First of all, he had that foreign exotic look going for him. What nationality is he exactly? I didn't know but I wanted to find out.
Next, the foreign appeal extended beyond just his appearance. The way he said and did things, his mannerisms, and everything about him was so 3rd world chic. He was not the average kid from America: the experiences he drew from were from Fantasia after all!
Lastly, he was a badass little kiddo! And he had a sensitive side. Everyone remembers the horrible scene where his horse Artax falls prey to the sadness!!
(Broken YouTube Link Removed)
(I had to attach the keyboard cat version because I lack the emotional depth to be able to watch this horrific scene without mocking it.)
Anyway, Atreyu was a little kid in this movie, but it was my first introduction to how interesting male fantasy characters could be. You'll see much more of that as this list goes on.
SIDE NOTE: Until I started looking up pics and clips from this movie for this article, I had no idea that the theme song "The NeverEnding Story" (na na na, na na na, na na na) was NOT sung by a woman. It's sung by this guy:
Why yes, that IS a two-tone mullet.
Eh hem...moving on...
8. Raphael - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Confession: this was actually not MY crush as a kid, but my sister's. If I were going to overlook their outside appearance and cross the boundaries of both species and convention to crush on one of the turtles, I think I would more likely be into the fun-loving humor of Mikey or the corny and intelligent nature of Donny. But my sister's reasoning for crushing on Raph were so hysterical to me that I had to include him in the list.
My sis is 3 years older than me and the oldest child, so as is the case with many oldest siblings, she was the most somber of the three of us. She loved Raph because he was the tortured soul of the siblings, just like her. He was always sneaking out, trying to take on all the crime of New York City by himself. On one of those excursions he met Casey Jones, who would later prove to be a great ally to the turtles.
"A Jose Canseco bat? TELL me you didn't pay money for this!"
Of course, on many of the other times he'd rebel, Raph would end up captured, injured or both, forced to recover by sitting in a bathtub on a farm.
Anyway, the scene where they come home to find Master Splinter taken is a great example of Raph's raw passion that my sister must have found so exhilarating. This is probably why she still dates the fixer-upper-tortured-soul-types today.
7. Daniel LaRusso - The Karate Kid
Oh Ralph Macchio, you WERE the best around! What made Daniel earn a place in my heart was what a sweetheart he always was, despite all the lemons life seemed to give him. He had to move across the country and start a new school (as a kid who moved around a lot, I could always relate) And when he gets in with this total smokin' hottie cheerleader, of COURSE she is already taken by the biggest douche in the world, Johnny Lawrence.
Johnny's (and Cobra Kai's) treatment of Daniel throughout the movie was one long string of textbook "OMG that is SO UNFAIR!" moments. I guess it was my maternal instincts that even back then made me want to hug him and make him feel better. He wears the bandaged up look well. But of course, our hero comes out on top at the end.
The Karate Kid setup was one of those situations where I really questioned the worthiness of the movie's love interest.
If she is lame enough to go with that tool Johnny Lawrence, why do you put her on such a pedestal, Daniel!?? This was a reoccurring theme in movies that I was never cool with. Ok maybe I was jealous, but WHATEVER. I was so over it by the time I discovered this next movie.
6. The Kid - Purple Rain
Growing up, my brother was a record collector and my mom loved pop music, so I was blessed to be introduced to Prince at a young age. As I got a little older and began to understand the lyrics a little more, I became even more intrigued. The sensuality of it all was a little above my comprehension level. I mean, was he gay or something maybe? I turned to the movie Purple Rain to find out, and let me tell you, I certainly no longer believed Prince to be gay.
No really. Somehow this is both straight AND sexy.
In Purple Rain, Prince's semi-autobiographical character is called "The Kid". He spends most of the movie being a total jerkoff to his girlfriend(ish) character Appolonia, who I might add, showed The Kid her giant boobies during the scene out at Lake Minnetonka.
This was one of the first R-rated movies I remember seeing, particularly one so dated from the time I first saw it, so I remember how weird it was hearing the F-word in an 80s flick.
ANYWAYS, this was totally the point in my life when I realized musicians were hot. The costume changes, the screaming fans, the onstage sweat...it's showtime, baby!
This fascination will certainly come into play later in the countdown, so keep reading.
5. Iceman - Top Gun
So, I know a lot of people were into Maverick during Top Gun, but I couldn't keep my little eyes off of Val Kilmer as Iceman. He was quite the badass. Yes he had the aviators:
...and he rocked them just as hard as Tom Cruise. But Ice just had a little more of that 80s 'tude that was so incredibly cool. Like that scene when he and maverick are in the locker room...and he makes the air-bite at him.
Woah. I also loved Val Kilmer as Mad Martigan in Willow, and I thought he was an awesome Batman, although many purists disagree.
It's a shame that Val got so fat and gross as he aged. He really was superbly attractive in the 80s and early 90s.
4. Jack the Forrest Dweller - Legend
So maybe you were the girl who was into Maverick, but my heart was set on a different Cruise character...Jack, also known as the forest dweller or Jack O' the Green. I watched Legend for the first time because my mom rented it...she loved Tim Curry (who plays "The Lord of Darkness", aka the devil) and Tangerine Dream who did the soundtrack. I think Jack is the sexiest at the beginning of the movie, when he looks nothing like "Tom Cruise"
The reason I say that is because he played the part of the peaceful, naive boy of the forest so beautifully. The scenes where he and Lilli are frolicking in the forest, singing to birds, chillin with the Unicorns, and engaging in some pretty hardcore making out... it's all so euphoric. I'm not sure if I was really longing for the cuteness of Jack or just the magic of living in that imaginary nirvana. Cruise's characters usually have that cocky, I-know-I-look-good kinda swag, but here, he looks truly innocent. See?!?
Later in the film, as he's trying to save the Unicorns and the world and Lilli and everything else, Jack starts trying to be a little more of a badass. I know I have made my love of bad-assery very clear in this countdown, but I just don't buy it from him. I know he's like 5'3 and shit!
3. Han Solo - Star Wars
Oooohhhh, we're in the top 3 people! Home stretch!
Now HERE's a badass I can really get behind (that's what she...oh nevermind.) Han Solo is the outlaw of, well, pretty much the whole universe in Star Wars. While Luke was cute and noble and all that, I can definitely see why Leia would've gone for Han. I mean just check him out.
DREAMY! And while Han was selfish, a braggart and a theif, he also turned out to be pretty loyal in the end. Although, we could gather as much from his relationship with Chewie.
And here is the scene that pretty much says it all about my #3 childhood crush:
2. Jareth the Goblin King - Labyrinth
Yes, he wore makeup. Yes, some of that makeup was glittery. But although the appeal is similar, Jareth the Goblin King beats the CRAP out of those glittering vampires of today's teen heartthrobs. He was the bad guy, the king of the goblins who robbed Sarah's little baby brother away from her in the dark of the night. Yet while he spent most of the movie tormenting Sarah as she weaved her way through his impossible maze, King Jareth was actually hopelessly in love with her. GASP!
It was the music that told the story of his love, otherwise you might have missed that part altogether. I know I did as a little kid, but after you watch the same movie about 200 times during your childhood, you start to pick up on these things. "As the World Falls Down" and "Within You" remain two of my favorite Bowie ballads. Look how pensively, how delicately, he tosses those crystal bubbles into his dream world!!
However, everyone knows the main reason Bowie appears so high on this list. In this movie, a children's movie I might add, Jareth the Goblin king is notoriously...bulgy. By that I mean the pants he wears in nearly every scene of the movie show, without question, a very detailed outline of his cocknballs. I found a very hilarious homage to King Jareth's bulge on YouTube, which cuts up interviews from the "Into the Labyrinth" documentary in such a way that highlights this taboo feature of the flick.
And now, the #1 biggest 80s or 90s crush from my childhood!!
Also known as The Man in Black or the Dread Pirate Roberts, Wesley was the main character of The Princess Bride (other than The Princess Bride herself, of course.) He was one of my favorite characters of all time from one of my favorite movies of all time. First of all, he starts off as Farm Boy. He has no other name, just Farm Boy.
He was only in the movie for like 5 minutes as Farm Boy, but those were like the best 5 minutes ever. He was SO cute. Ahh, the babyface, the careless blond hair, it's all so glorious!
But all good things must come to an end...or MUST they? Because then we are introduced to the mysterious MAN in BLACK, whose origin is unknown and charisma is unmatched! We see him climbing a cliff with his bare hands...
Then proceeding to perform a stunt-packed sword fighting scene...
And finally his true identity is revealed, and we find that he is actually Farm Boy! And his name is Wesley! *melts* He then promptly fights an ROUS (rodent of unusual size) and looks pretty fly in the process.
All in all, Cary Elwes as Wesley is the finest, coolest, badest-ass of all the 80s and 90s movie heroes, and it took me several years to get over him. I'm not sure that I'll ever truly get over him, but I guess since I married my own boyishly handsome and man-tastically daring Dread Pirate Roberts, I sort of never have to.