20 Iconic Summer Movies
Nothing says summer like family vacations, the great outdoors, coming of age journeys, graduations and a bit of nostalgia. Throw in camp-outs, star gazing, beach scenes, plus romance and the scene is set for the season. Movies can capture every emotion of good ole summertime. Make it a date night or round up the family and some friends. Here’s our list of the iconic summer movies:
- Grease: One fateful summer good girl Sandy and greaser Danny fall in love, and the rest is American musical history. This story is as sweet and iconic as they come.
- Summer School: Mr. Shoop is a gym teacher who gets roped into teaching remedial English for summer school slackers. High-school stereotypes and ‘80s clichés are rampant, but that’s part of what makes this comedy so much fun.
- Dirty Dancing: Who can forget the timeless story of forbidden summer love between Baby and Johnny Castle? There’s romance, an endless supply of quotable lines, and of course, there’s dancing.
- National Lampoon’s Vacation: This Chevy Chase masterpiece centers on an ill-fated trip to Wallyworld. A vicious family dog, weird cousins, and dad obsessed with having a good time: the Griswolds are a national lampoon treasure.
- The Sandlot: Take a coming of age story, add a gorgeous local lifeguard, a dog nicknamed “The Beast” and a baseball autographed by some lady named Babe Ruth, and you get “The Sandlot.”
- Adventureland: For anyone who has ever held a summer job, this film hits home. A college grad lands a last-resort job at a local amusement park and ends up having the time of his life.
- Dazed and Confused: Schools out, so now what do we do? This film depicts oh-so-accurately the last day of high school, and though it’s set in the 1970s, its events and characters are universal.
- Stand by Me: When four boys set out to locate a missing body, they get the adventure of a lifetime. This classic brings viewers a nostalgia that can only be associated with true childhood friendship, marking its place as one of the finest coming-of-age films of all time.
- Jaws: Don’t go in the water. With only two notes composer John Williams, managed to instill fear in every audience member. One of the best thrillers of all time and the ultimate summer movie.
- The Lion King: “The Circle of Life” meant that this animated feature got rewound again and again and again once it hit video. Familial love and protection are at the heart of this Disney classic about a lion cub who rises on the Serengeti plains to his rightful place on the throne.
- The Great Outdoors: No list of summer movies is complete without John Candy and Dan Aykroyd’s misadventures in the wilderness. A Chicago man’s hope for a peaceful family vacation in the woods is shattered when the annoying in-laws drop in.
- Blue Crush: Surfer girl Anne Marie finds all she needs in the adrenaline-charged surf scene until a pro quarterback Matt comes along.
- Breaking Away: Classic sports movie with a bored high school grad who takes up cycling as a hobby and starts training for the Indiana University Little 500 race.
- Now and Then: Demi Moore narrates as four women who were childhood friends reminisce about the summer of 1970—a summer of discovery that changed their lives.
- One Crazy Summer: A neurotic aspiring teenage cartoonist Hoops McCann has two weeks to write and illustrate a love story for a college scholarship application.
- Meatballs: Tripper (Bill Murray) is the head counselor at a budget summer camp called Camp Northstar and inspires his young charges to defeat rival Camp Mohawk in the annual Olympiad competition.
- Caddyshack: A snob-infested Bushwood Country Club has to deal with a brash new member and a gopher intent on destroying their beloved golf course. Classic slapstick comedy.
- Little Miss Sunshine: A dysfunctional family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their blazing yellow VW bus.
- Vicky Cristina Barcelona: Two girlfriends get the vacation opportunity of a lifetime and become enamored with the same painter, unaware that his ex-wife is about to re-enter the picture.
- The Notebook: There’s no romance like a summer romance: those three intense months together can feel like a lifetime. And for a lucky few — like teenage sweethearts Noah and Allie — that’s exactly what it becomes.
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