There are few people more opposed to nostalgia-as-a-fetish than I am, but even I’m not such a joyless Grinch that I have to smack people for enjoying the “can you name the influence for this scene?” jigsaw puzzle that is Stranger Things on Netflix.

For me, the appeal of Stranger Things begins with the kids they cast in the show. One of the reasons I’ve never liked The Goonies (I know, I know, get over it) is because I find the particular combination of kids and the way they were directed to be grating. That’s the nicest way I can put it. I hate any scene where they’re all together and shouting over one another. I find them off-putting at best, intolerable at worst. With Stranger Things, the kids all strike me as real kids, and the way they relate to one another is very sweet, very real. Of the kids, wee Gaten Matarazzo is by far my favorite. The moment he shows up without his front teeth and he starts talking, he reminds me of every best friend I ever had as a kid.

There’s no real news value in the videos I’m posting here, but if you’re a fan of Matarazzo’s work, then I’m guessing you’ll enjoy this just as much as I did. I had no idea he is already a seasoned Broadway performer, and the idea that he broke out a Les Miserables song at a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party is awesome.

But then seeing him perform Bruno Mars with Natalie Weiss just confirms that he’s pretty much sunshine in human form.

I can’t wait for these kids to come back for a second season. If the Stranger Things team wants to keep the same kids onboard, they’ll either have to jump forward in time each season or shoot very, very quickly.

While we wait for a second season, maybe we can just get the entire cast to record covers of songs, like Millie Bobby Brown (so very good as Eleven) and her cover of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.”

Come on. Adorable. All of them.
Stranger Things is available now exclusively on Netflix.

A respected critic and commentator for fifteen years, Drew McWeeny helped create the online film community as "Moriarty" at Ain't It Cool News, and now proudly leads two budding Film Nerds in their ongoing movie education.