Do you like the idea of summer, but yet dread the heat, the bugs, the awkwardly high shorts on old people? If so, shut the blinds, crank up the AC, and embrace the idea of summer with these summer movie recommendations. For this list, I’m looking for movies with what I consider the summerest qualities. Yes, summerest. These are ten movies that embody what I feel captures the essence of summertime.
It’s a brilliant movie, and better than some to follow on this list. Dustin Hoffman’s character just finished college. He’s home for summer and doesn’t know what the hell to do with his life. His parent’s rich friends give him all sorts of suggestions and he spends his days doing fairly useless shit. Everything turns around when Mrs. Robinson, one of the aforementioned friends of his parents, decides to seduce him. The movie has a good post-graduation feel to it. Plus that image of Dustin Hoffman sitting at the bottom of his parent’s pool in full scuba gear is just so memorable.
9. Weekend at Bernie’s
Speaking of movies that The Graduate is better than, Weekend at Bernie’s mainly takes place over the Labor Day weekend. What can I really say: it makes the list because it’s a big summer party. People swim and drink and frolic around Bernie’s house, all while Bernie is dead and two young business grunts go to lengths to pretend he’s still alive. No, Bernie’s death is not a spoiler. Most jokes in the movie hinge on him being dead. Still, this movie still has a certain likable charm. The only thing I’ll never understand is how a sequel was possible.
Some people golf in the summertime…I guess. Sure, it’s a sort of summer sport. But the movie isn’t strictly about golf. For some, the coming of summer means the busiest work season of the year. Caddyshack celebrates the idea of seasonal work, mainly in the form of serving a bunch of snooty people. The cast is amazing, with Bill Murray, Rodney Dangerfeild, and Chevy Chase, to name a few. I won’t even attempt to explain the humor. There are plenty of swimming scenes, sunshiny golf days, and work-related situations gone awry.
This movie is all around quirky. The storyline is partially about young children in love, and to be perfectly honest, I find most the kid-stuff boring. The adult characters make the movie great. My favorite is played by Edward Norton, who plays a nerdy “scout” leader…ah scouts, going camping with a youth group and having to do a bunch of unwanted crap in the woods. Sure sounds like summer.
6. The Parent Trap (1961 version)
There are many great movies about summer camps. I do like a good cut-up-the-counselors horror flick, and need I again mention Bill Murray (Meatballs)? Still, of summer camping movies, Parent Trap has the most outrageous twist. A girl goes to camp and sees someone who looks exactly like her. Aside from summer camp, there are also some family tent-camping scenes later in the movie. I highly recommend the original, over the Lohanified version, simply because The Parent Trap was made perfect the first time through.
Of course: Jaws. How could Jaws not make a list about summer movies? The setting takes place on a vacation island during Fourth of July weekend. There are lots of beach scenes, swimsuits, cooking, all that jazz. There is also a giant shark preying on beachgoers. If you haven’t seen this movie, see Jaws ASAP. But even though it is a summer movie, the focus of the movie ultimately turns toward the giant shark, and so I don’t really consider this the summerest of summer. At least, I hope encountering giant people-eating sharks in summer is a pretty atypical activity for most
4. Doc Hollywood
There’s swimming, fishing, town parades, bug bites, festivals, barbecues, sparklers, even pissing in the woods. On top of all these summer activities, the movie has a good story. A young doctor, played by Michael J. Fox, is stranded in a small town. For anyone who has ever lived in a small town, they likely know that summer is when the community really comes together. It’s impressive for a movie to not only have fantastic humanized characters, but for the town itself to almost feel like a character.
3. A League of Their Own
When I was kid, my parents made me play pee-wee baseball. Why? I asked. They answered that summertime is meant to be for baseball and I had to suck it up and do it. There are plenty of baseball movies: The Natural, The Sandlot, Major League. So why choose a movie about a women’s baseball league when baseball is primarily a male sport? Because this movie takes the sport more seriously than many others, and having women in the roles of players helps define the idea that the sport can be played by anyone. The movie is based on a factual league, which unfortunately, this league only existed due to men fighting in WWII, and the magic faded for the league a few years after the war ended. Yes, anything that can make baseball seem fresh, sure seems like magic.
2. National Lampoon’s Vacation
Parents think summer vacation is going to be about bonding with the family, about getting away from their jobs and capturing some of the joy they once had when they were young during the summertime. Then all the preconceived ideals go out the window. Lampoon’s captures the reality of summer vacations: fighting in the car, visiting distant family we don’t want to see, getting lost and everything taking longer than planned. Even though this movie is over 30 years old, the Griswald family has what feels like a timeless relatability to them.
1. Breaking Away
My top pick for a summerest movie hasn’t stood out in the mainstream. It’s not like Jaws, where every generation feels a need to see it. The main stars became somewhat obscure names over time. Breaking Away features many summer activities: sports—cycling to be exact, swimming, summer-work, and long sunny days with friends. What makes this movie really feel like summer is that it captures a transition in life. Summer for the young might often be a time to party, to relax during school break, to think one will never get stuck in the drudgery of a 40-hour workweek. After high school or college, summer is usually the season when people shift into some more responsible aspect of life. The main character in the movie is partly unaware of all that he has going for him. He has some funny and likeable parents, and his friends are all fairly different in how they want to approach the future. Give Breaking Away a shot, and you’ll find yourself cheering along with the story and the characters.
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