Although the Summer Solstice isn’t until June 21st, I’m already preparing for the season by getting together all of my essentials: Bronzer? Check. Sea-salt spray? Check. Gold eye shadow? Check. Cute wedge sandals and a big beachy hat? Check and check. I’ve even picked up a bright, lightweight tote to make my hustling and bustling around the hot, humid city a little easier through the most sizzling months of the year.
But apart from my wardrobe changing and my makeup regimen getting switched up- one thing that definitely gets me in the Summertime frame of mind is gathering around with friends in front of the A/C (or strategically placed fans,) with a popsicle or frozen yogurt, and watching a good Summer-y movie. Over the years, I’ve accrued a handful of go-to favorites that never get old that I thought I’d share for anyone who needs a break from getting sunkissed for an hour or two- or for an all-night marathon.
So here are my top eight Summer flicks!
1. Dazed and Confused (1993)
“AIR RAID!” Matthew McConaughey just looooves those high school girls, Ben Affleck can’t seem to let go of his (two-time) senior bully status, and Parker Posey initiates (and humiliates) the incoming freshman girls by covering them with ketchup, mustard , eggs, and flour while wearing an impressive pair of tube socks. ‘Dazed and Confused’ is a cult classic with a terrific ensemble cast and an awesome soundtrack as the movie depicts the carefree craziness, the hilarious mischief, the innocent crushes, and the poignant coming of age during of the last day of school in the Summer of 1976.
2. Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
Another cult classic with an impressive ensemble cast. ‘Wet Hot American Summer’ is one of the funniest, most insane movies of all time. Featuring the likes of Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon, Janeane Garofalo, Christopher Meloni (as Gene- my favorite character,) Michael Ian Black, and Paul Rudd- among so many others- this movie follows the counselors and campers during the last day at Camp Firewood in the Summer of 1981. There’s a talent show, a gay wedding, fridge-humping, sweater-fondling, an inspiring dance segment- and a piece of a sky-lab falling from space that threatens to destroy them all. Years later, and I laugh from start to finish whenever I watch this.
3. Grease (1978)
Although ‘Grease’ doesn’t just take place during the Summer, and instead follows the tumultuous romance between greaser Danny Zuko and good girl Sandy Olsson (as well as he ups and downs of their friends- Rizzo being my #1 girl!) throughout their senior year of high school in the 1950’s- I only ever watch this movie during the Summer. With a ridiculously catchy, can’t-help-but-sing-a-long soundtrack- this movie’s questionable “change yourself for the person you have a crush on” moral/ending was a tad on the ridiculous side- but it’s still a classic nonetheless- and Jeff Conaway was a babe as Kenickie.
4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974 & 2003)
You can’t have a Summer movie marathon without one or two good horror movies- and they don’t get much better than ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, both the 1974 original and the 2003 re-make (which I’m actually a big fan of,) that needs no introduction. Five teenagers are traveling through desolate Texas when they encounter an unhinged hitchhiker and make the mistake of picking them up- setting in motion a series of horrifying events that include, but are certainly not limited to torture, murder, cannibalism, and power tools. Even though I’ve watched these movies countless times, I still jump and cringe during certain scenes. The sound of the chainsaw gets me every. single. time.
5. Now and Then (1995)
I have a special place in my heart for “Now and Then,” which I watch every Summer with my mom at least once- and have done so since it’s release when I was a kid. The funny, often touching film follows four girlfriends in their small town during the Summer of 1970 when they are coming of age, dealing with changes in their families (divorces, death, etc.) saving money to purchase a tree house, feuding with neighborhood boys, and attempting to solve a murder mystery after a seance gone awry. The movie often fast-forwards to the four friends as adults in the 90’s, where they have reunited in their old neighborhood for the birth of a child and reminisce about the lessons they learned during that Summer and the mistakes they’ve made since. This movie is a tear-jerker for sure, but I love it.
6. Dirty Dancing (1987)
With moves that make ‘Grease’s’ Danny Zuko look like an amateur, Patrick Swayze’s portrayal as Johnny Castle was nothing short of swoon-worthy, and his chemistry with Jennifer Grey as Frances “Baby” Houseman make them one of my favorite on-screen couples of all time. ‘Dirty Dancing’ follows Baby and her family during their Summer vacation at a failing resort in the Catskills Mountains in 1963. She meets Johnny, the resort’s seasonal dance instructor, and through unfortunate circumstances surrounding his dancing partner- Baby ends up temporarily taking her place- and the two eventually fall in love despite the disapproval of Baby’s family and the meddling of Johnny’s superiors at the resort. Everything works out in the end, though- with a poignant dance number and Baby nailing the lift she’d been too afraid to try earlier in the movie. It’s a beautiful scene that may or may not bring a tear to my eye (it totally does.)
7. The Seven Year Itch (1955)
Hands down one of my favorite and most beloved Marilyn Monroe films, ‘The Seven Year Itch’ has withstood the test of time, still being clever and funny all these years after it’s release. Richard, an ad executive with an overactive imagination, and whose wife and son are vacationing out of town for the Summer, befriends his beautiful new neighbor (played by Monroe.) He develops an innocent attraction to her- never actually leading to anything that would spoil the overall good nature of the film and it’s characters- but his fantasies and paranoia make for some really fun scenes.
8. Lords of Dogtown (2005)
And lastly, a biographical movie with an incredible soundtrack- ‘Lords of Dogtown’ is based on the rise of the Z-Boys, skateboarders who paved the way for extreme sports in the early 1970s in Santa Monica. I saw this in theaters with friends and was not only impressed with the music used throughout the film, but by how beautifully shot this movie was and by the performances from all of the actors- especially the late Heath Ledger’s portrayal of Skip Engblom. Even if you’re not a fan of skateboarding- this is a must-watch.
And there you have it! Eight films that are sure to get you ready for the Summertime. A lot of these titles are currently available on Netflix, should anyone want to watch them right now!
And of course, I am always open to recommendations- so if anyone wants to leave their favorite Summer movies in the comments section- feel free! I’d love to check them out!