Article by: Alice-Ginevra Micheli
What does summer mean to you? Typical responses may include such things as the beach, the sun, camping, vacationing and possibly a magical yet brief romance. For me, however, it means so much more. I can experience terrifying scares, inexplicable dance numbers and visitors from out of space. That’s right, summer is also a time for us to experience the stories and worlds brought about by a great movie (even those that are so bad they’re good). Whether it’s to get you primed for an upcoming trip, or to help you escape for the sake of it, summer films always tend to leave you with a feeling of nostalgia and warmth.
As a result, I’ve compiled a list of my 10 best Summer Films to experience this season, including everything from the cheesiest romance to some of Hollywood’s most iconic films.
10. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)
There is no better coming-of-age film for any female than this one right here. A movie about the friendship of 4 girls, who keep in touch through letters and a pair of mystical jeans, it will teach you all you need to know about love, life and everything that comes in between. Essential viewing for anyone in the mood to relive those confusing teenage years, the film delivers many emotional and thought provoking moments that can easily resonate with any viewer who experiences it.
9. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Back when romantic comedies meant rushing through airports and epic kisses under the rain, this film gave us Peter Brenner (Jason Segel) escaping his life and reality after his famous girlfriend (Kristen Bell) leaves him humiliated, naked, and alone. Where better to escape than to Hawaii, the best summer vacation spot on the planet, where he learns how to put himself back together. If you’ve ever been through a break up where you’re feeling lost and confused, this film will resonate deeply. If you haven’t, then you still get to enjoy the laughs and the sunshine delivered in spades throughout its run time. Whatever the case, this film has romance, comedy and sun, all the things needed for a great summer flick.
8. Independence Day (1996)
Roland Emmerich’s quintessential disaster film is so prominent in today’s culture that the long awaited sequel is just weeks away from hitting our screens. Therefore there is no better time than now to watch Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) and President Thomas J Whitmore (Bill Pullman) battle an alien cavalry with just their talent and hope to guide them. A blood-pumping classic sci-fi action flick, this choice is sure to have you feeling nostalgic for the days when a computer virus was seen as the deadliest weapon, and Will Smith was the answer to all of our problems.
7. Meatballs (1979)
Can you think of anything better than having Bill Murray be your camp counselor for a whole summer? In lieu of him turning up on your doorstep with fishing gear and a tent ready to go, you can experience this wondrous journey in the classic comedy, Meatballs. The movie follows Murray’s Tripper, as he tries to help his less-than-average campers have a great summer, making them feel important in an unimportant world. With all the hear-warming moments and underdog feels this film provides, it’s sure to have you longing for those days when camp was the highlight of your summer.
6. Before Sunrise (1995)
The ultimate portrayal of a summer romance, this follows two young people (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) who meet by chance in Europe and proceed to spend their only night exploring Vienna and getting to know each other. It’s quick, ethereal and magical, and a film that makes you long for the thrill of knowing someone for a limited amount of time. It’ll give you intense pangs of wanderlust as well as the longing for a connection as strong as the one between the two protagonists. It’s a dream translated onto the screen, and therefore something to experience this summer.
5. (500) Days of Summer (2009)
Who doesn’t love a good manic pixie dream girl tale? The movie that went against all the romcom cliché’s, we are given an insight into the heart and mind of hopeless romantic (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), as he traverses 500 days in love with someone who is constantly slipping through his fingers. There’s moments of sweetness, melancholy and ridiculousness all throughout the 95 minute runtime, that will hook you from the moment Zooey Deschanel’s cheeky sideways smile appears on screen. A perfect flick to round out anyone’s summer, if for nothing else than the season literally being in the title.
4. The Sandlot (1993)
Set during the summer of 1962, this film revolves around the new kid in town (Tom Guiry) as he’s taken under the wing of the local baseball team. It’s fun, silly and something that will throw you back to when the most important thing in life was fitting in and making friends. With everything you’d ever need to have a fantastic summer, this movie will make you believe that the greatest adventure can be just around the corner, and that the strongest friendships are those closest to home.
3. Lilo & Stitch (2002)
“Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten”.
This Disney flick brought us a story with the ability to melt anyone’s heart, no matter how frozen it may be from the winter. Taking place on the sandy shores of Hawaii, delivering exciting alien sequences and intimate emotional beats, this film makes you long for a familial connection and a warm sun on your back. Accompanied by a great Elvis soundtrack and paired with a cute and fluffy sidekick, this movie will make you want to scoop up your loved ones and head to the nearest beach for a memorable outing.
2. Weekend at Bernie’s (1989)
The main image of this film has been parodied more times than I care to mention. Becoming prevalent in the minds-eye of anyone who has or hasn’t seen it, this crime-comedy caper follows two friends (Andrew McCarthy & Jonathon Silverman) as they pretend their dead boss is still alive so they can have the weekend of their lives. Full of dark comedy antics and tropical themes, this film is infused with so much summer imagery that it’s difficult to think of anything else while watching it. Despite it’s rather macabre central plot, it’s still a fun time that instantly brings about feelings of partying, lounging and relaxing, evoking what it really means to be on vacation during the warm season.
- Jaws (1975)
A villain that’s brought to life with only two musical notes. A film that literally scared away millions of people from the beach in fear of an improbable giant shark. The brilliance behind this monster movie cannot be exaggerated. An expert delivery of suspense, this film will toy with your longing for splashing around the crisp ocean waves during the summer heat, only to then disintegrate any hints of that dreaminess with a single attack. This movie is legendary, to the point that it should be on everyone’s essential viewing list regardless of the upcoming season. Therefore, there’s no other choice to round out this list of the Top 10 Summer Movies, than with one that introduced the world to the brilliance of Steven Spielberg and the fear of what’s beneath the water.
Friday the 13th (1980)
This is a film that has become an icon, not just of horror or of summer but of cinema itself. During Halloween, you will always find people dressing up in hockey masks and leather jackets, emulating the villain, Jason Voorhees. A name that has come to mean so much, that there are now 11 sequels/remakes because people still want to see where he goes next. The movie that began the horror film camping cliché, the only reason why it’s not on the list is that, while it is set during summer, it doesn’t exactly make the idea of vacationing look like the most attractive choice.
Mamma Mia (2008)
Infamous stars, scandalous mysteries, and confusing romances all wrapped up in a singing bow that is what this ABBA musical delivers. Is it shallow, cheesy and sometimes just darn silly? Yes. However, is it vastly underrated and does it make you long for far away islands, beautiful beaches and a summer love you can hold onto forever? You’re damn right it does.