Childhood’s End: 9 Movies Where Kids Save the World

The Lost Boys - 700x384W.C. Fields once said, “Never work with children or animals.” But when did Fields ever prevent nuclear annihilation or stop an evil mastermind from raising a robot army? Here are nine movies that prove that when it comes to saving the day, the kids are more than all right.

1. Big Hero 6
In futuristic “San Fransokyo,” robotics prodigy Hiro (Ryan Potter) is grieving the death of his big brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) when he realizes the explosion that killed his sibling might not have been accidental. Hiro teams up with Tadashi’s friends and a huggable robot named Baymax (Scott Adsit) to unmask the culprit and stop him from using Hiro’s microbots to transport a large chunk of downtown into a portal from which there is no return.

2. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
Kyle, Stan, Cartman and Kenny (all voiced by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker) sneak into an R-rated movie, launching a sequence of events that culminates in war between the United States and Canada. Even worse, Satan (Parker) rises from hell with Saddam Hussein (Stone) in tow. When Saddam announces his intent to rule the world, Kenny sacrifices himself to save mankind.

3. Spy Kids
When secret agents Ingrid and Gregorio Cortez (Carla Gugino and Antonio Banderas) are captured by demented-genius/kids-show-host Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming), their kids Carmen and Juni (Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara) have got to rescue them. Luckily, they’ve got jet packs and other gadgets courtesy of their Uncle Machete (Danny Trejo) to battle freaky robots in Floop’s fun-house lair.

4. Super 8
A group of teens who sneak out of their homes to shoot a zombie movie are nearly killed by a spectacular train crash. Inspecting the wreckage, they find boxes filled with mysterious white cubes. Then even stranger things start happening: People go missing, dogs disappear, soldiers arrive to evacuate the town. What could all these abductions and government cover-ups and weird shapes of unknown material mean? Aliens? Probably aliens.

5. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) escape war-torn London for a countryside mansion, where a magical armoire transports them to war-torn Narnia. Once they vanquish the White Witch (Tilda Swinton) with the assistance of a lion named Aslan (Liam Neeson), a prophecy marks them as future kings and queens.

6. The Goonies
The houses on the Goon Docks of a small Oregon town are set for foreclosure when a group of preteen friends (including Josh Brolin, Martha Plimpton and Sean Astin) discover a map leading to pirate booty. What better adventure for a last hurrah? The Goonies evade a serious of booby traps, as well as the criminal Fratelli family, to save the Goon Docks homes with newly found riches. Goonies never say die!

7. The Lost Boys
Brothers Michael and Sam (Jason Patric and Corey Haim) move to a California beach town and do battle with a gang of magnificently coiffed teen vampires led by the laconic David (Keifer Sutherland). But — spoiler alert! — it turns out the head hellion isn’t David, but the middle-aged video-store owner (Edward Herrmann) who happens to be dating their mom (Dianne Wiest).

8. The NeverEnding Story
Bastian Balthazar Bux (Barret Oliver), on the run from bullies, hides in his school’s attic with a book he’s just liberated from a bookstore. As he reads, Bastian is drawn — figuratively and literally — into the magical world of Fantasia, a land he saves from a threat called The Nothing with help from a boy named Atreyu (Noah Hathaway) and a mystical dragon known as Falkor (Alan Oppenheimer). After saving Fantasia, Bastian borrows Falkor to take on his bullies back home.

9. WarGames
High-schooler David (Matthew Broderick) hacks into a mysterious computer named Joshua to play a game called Global Thermonuclear War. Since Joshua’s connected to NORAD, David inadvertently tricks the military into thinking the Soviet Union has launched its entire ballistic arsenal at the United States. It’s up to David to teach Joshua about the futility of war before total destruction takes place.

Speaking of adolescent heroics, cast your vote for which up-and-coming auteur might become the next John Hughes.