M.R.S. Recommends: Summer Flicks
We asked our columnists to list their favorite summer movies.
If you end up watching any, please let us know what you thought on social media or by dropping us a message on our contact page!
Grease 2 (6/11/82)
While this movie begins at the end of summer and start of the school year, HBO used to play it seemingly every day through August and my mother, sister, and I would watch as much as possible.
Superman III (6/17/83)
This underrated superhero gem was the last film I saw at a drive-in, and watching the Man of Steel fifty feet tall delighted my seven year old brain to no end.
Meatballs Part II (7/27/84)
While my horror loving sensibilities apologize to Jason Voorhees, this is my favorite summer camp film. It is silly, hilarious, and has the best alien this side of the Mos Eisley cantina.
One Crazy Summer (8/8/86)
I quote this movie every time I’m by the water. Savage Steve Holland never got his due as one of the quirkiest, most funny filmmakers of the 80s.
Major League (4/7/89)
Baseball and summer go hand in hand, and of all the excellent films about the national pastime, I’ll take this humorous yet heartfelt home run of a film any day.
Having freshly graduated middle school, my best friend Tom and I saw this together on opening day. It was one of my last great experiences before high school tried to kill me.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World (Edgar Wright, 2010) This movie doesn’t take place during the summer, but it did come out in the summer, and the year it came out I not only had free pre-screening tickets and saw it at the Loews in Boston (RIP the old sign), I also had a friend who worked at our local movie theater. She was obsessed with this movie, so we ended up seeing it at least five times in theaters because of her free tickets, so I’ll always end up associating Scott Pilgrim with hiding from the sun of late August.
Thank God It’s Friday (Robert Klane, 1978) You know movies that feel like a really good time out with your friends? This is like that, in the world of disco, with multiple plotlines that intersect throughout the whole movie. Donna Summer tries really hard to get her music on air, there’s a marriage on the rocks, and some high schoolers are trying to show how good they are at dancing (despite being underaged). Extremely late 70s energy in the best way.
The Sandlot (David Mickey Evans, 1993)
An absolutely formative film that everyone I went to elementary school with saw at least thirty times before finishing the fourth grade, The Sandlot still informs a lot of what it means to me to have a full summer experience: playing ball, sweating, pretending to drown to get attention from hot lifeguards, getting chased by giant dogs, and eating s'mores.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
This is kind of a cop out, but it not only came out for the summer, it takes place in the summer, and it takes place, obviously, in California, which I think of as an idealized place where it's never not summer and never not gilded to cover up the ugliness underneath. Also, I like movies that are ostensibly also about movies, so, there it is.
Ah, summertime, where I can become sweaty goo by sitting still on the couch. I have already written an extensive list of camp-related films. But now let us speak of some specific summer vibes.
The Lost Boys (1987), besides being my favorite film, is also an excellent summer flick. The Santa Carla beachfront, outdoor concerts with glistening saxophone players, motorcycle chases, cool sunglasses, not one, but TWO Coreys, and squirt guns full of holy water are all there waiting for you. You just have to drink from the bedazzled wine bottle and be one of us.
Speaking of camp films, the Friday the 13th series always calls to me in the summer. It’s practically almost autumn when June hits, as we all know, and rewatching the series, or at least viewing some favorites leading up to the Halloween season is not a bad way to go. Part III (in 3D!), Part IV: A New Beginning (new mask, who dis?), and Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (after he takes a long boat ride) are my personal go-tos.
Sure, you’re familiar with the Peanuts films from the winter and the fall, but how about 1977’s summer classic Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown? My family had this on VHS, taped off the TV, and the grand adventure that is summer camp ending in an epic river-raft race with the Peanuts gang facing cheating bullies always remained in a hazy blur in the back of my mind. A recent rewatch assured me it was a good one. They beat the heck out of that mean cat, though.
One Crazy Summer (1986) is totally a movie I should not have seen young. Sure, it opens with cute cartoon bunnies, but they soon murder the rhinoceros in a bloody, brutal display. The protagonist is a cartoonist, you see, and random animated elements pop up throughout the film. When the aspiring cartoonist struggles with his application for Rhode Island School of Design, he finds himself in Nantucket for the summer, mixed up with rock stars, evil land developers, an ugly dog, Bobcat Goldthwait stuck in a Godzilla costume, and a boat race with a big monetary prize to the winner. A superb cast including John Cusack, Demi Moore, Joel Murray (Bill's bro), and everybody's favorite loud dude Bobcat.
A new discovery is the film Up the Creek from 1984. It’s a comedic ‘80s romp of tropes, this one about an illicit deal for the worst students at a college promised passing grades if they win a big rafting race. Watch as they try to defeat the military school, the ivy league jerks, and the extremely attractive women’s college team. Also, Chuck the Wonder Dog, who is an inexplicably smart and adorable mascot to this silly film, adds an extra level of absurdity. Think of this as a bizarro version of that Peanuts movie. You now have many boat races to consume. Please note that Up the Creek is a movie with the name of the movie in the song. Cheap Trick did the title track and there is a music video in a bathtub if you wish to seek that out.
Lastly, I would like to throw in season nine of the horror anthology series American Horror Story with the subtitle 1984. A serial killer massacres counselors and campers alike in Camp Redwood in 1970, so naturally it is set to reopen with new owners fourteen years later, in, you guessed it, 1984. If you love ‘80s slashers and/or ‘80s camping films, this season lovingly weaves all that together, along with lots of blood and guts and sexy stuff which you would expect anyway. You don’t need to see the other seasons to get the story, though one of the series’ most beloved gimmicks is that actors (and sometimes characters) tend to be recurring.
Jenny From the Grave
Addams Family Values (Barry Sonnenfeld, 1993)
This is an absolute must for all horror lovers alike! This was my favorite of the 90’s franchise films. You’ve got the same cast as the previous film, but with a more developed story, including -complications like a new baby, a black widow murderess, and the most horrendous summer camp imaginable! Poor Wednesday and Pugsly only survive camp by commandeering the Thanksgiving play and literally burning down the house.
Camp Nowhere (Jonathan Prince, 1994)
Continuing with the camp theme and actually the Christopher Lloyd theme as well, this was one of my deep cut childhood faves This film centers around a young teenage boy who spends every summer at computer camp. “Mud” and his friends, yearning for a more independent summer, devise a plan to create a fake camp to fool their parents. They enlist the help of an ex-teacher (Christopher Lloyd) who plays a fake camp counselor. They rent a campground and run amok. That is until their parents want to visit. This movie is every kid's dream of what summer should be.
Goonies (Richard Donner, 1985)
Nothing says summer to me more than pirates and odd coastal towns….
This movie is about a band of adventurous kids who take on the might of a property developing company which plans to destroy their home to build a country club. When the children discover an old pirate map in the attic, they follow it into an underground cavern in search of lost treasure but come up against plenty of dangerous obstacles along the way. Goonies never say die!