With May in bloom, you may be getting ready to finish your exams, go on a well-deserved vacation, or just soak in the sun or pool after a long barbeque. While summer may have its traditional activities like going to the beach, buying ice cream off a truck, or watching fireworks on the 4th of July, we cannot ignore the absolute staple that is watching a movie in the summer. The summer has always been one of my favorite movie-watching times, whether it be going to see the newest blockbuster with my family at the nearby Cinemark, watching classics like “The Birds” on the big screen of the Majestic Theater (my college town’s local theater) with fellow cinephile friends, or just sitting in the cool air conditioning of a friend’s house to enjoy a movie with a script we can recite flawlessly while shoveling popcorn into our mouths. Some movies are just easy to associate with the summer due to the film’s setting, release date, or overall vibes. If you’re looking for some motivation to start organizing your summer agenda, here are five memorable movies to get you pumped for summer!
1. “National Lampoon’s Vacation”
What better way to start a vacation than with a road trip? A comedy classic, “National Lampoon’s Vacation” follows the famous Griswold family led by patriarch Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) on their chaotic road trip to Wally World. Throughout their trip, the Griswolds cross the country under increasingly unusual circumstances. This hilarious John Hughes comedy hosts classic performances from not only Chevy Chase but also Beverly D’Angelo and Randy Quaid. “National Lampoon’s Vacation” is the perfect movie for anyone who can relate to the trials and tribulations of planning and going on what is supposed to be a fun and relaxing family vacation.
“National Lampoon’s Vacation” is available to stream on HBO Max and Peacock.
For a movie that takes place over a whole school year, this immortal musical does a fantastic job hyping up the summer season. After an eventful summer fling, high school seniors Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and Danny (John Travolta) must figure out their relationship while confronting the social pressure of the greaser gangs of the T-Birds and Pink Ladies. This movie is a fun ride for anyone who likes to sing and dance (not just musical theater fans) with classic songs like “Summer Nights,” “Born to Hand Jive,” “We Go Together” and more. “Grease” will have you singing your way to the nearest summer sock hop.
“Grease” is available to stream on Paramount+.
3. “The Goonies”
If you’re anything like me, you spent your summers as a kid pretending to go on daring adventures with your friends. As a teen, those daring adventures possibly turned into memorable Dungeons & Dragons sessions that lasted until sunrise. For many of us, the feeling of summer comes with a built-in sense of friendship and the desire to journey. This is perhaps the reason why “The Goonies” is a perfect movie to get you ready for the next season. When a group of friends known as the (you guessed it) “Goonies” find what they believe to be a treasure map in their leader’s attic, the gang goes on a courageous mission to find the bounty while avoiding booby traps and evading the dangerous Fratelli crime family. A staple of the 80s, “The Goonies” is a movie for anyone longing for a summer adventure.
“The Goonies” is available to stream on HBO Max and Peacock.
4. “In the Heights”
The most recent film to grace this list, “In the Heights” might seem like an outsider here. This musical, based on the Lin Manuel Miranda stage show of the same name, follows Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a young bodega manager, as he observes ongoing events in the tight community of Washington Heights. While the original stage show explicitly takes place over Fourth of July weekend, the film stretches out its story over the entire summer. This exciting movie musical will make you want to sing, dance and swim (possibly all at the same time) along with its show-stopping numbers.
“In the Heights” is available to stream on HBO Max.
5. “Mamma Mia”
Finishing off this list, we have another musical. “Mamma Mia” follows Donna (Meryl Streep), the dynamic manager of a hotel on a Greek island, as she prepares for her daughter Sophie’s (Amanda Seyfried) wedding. After Sophie invites three men she thinks may be her father to the wedding, Donna must confront her past all while singing the classic songs of ABBA. Based on the eponymous stage musical, “Mamma Mia” is like if a karaoke machine took the form of a movie. Aside from featuring classic summer themes like beaches, vacations and weddings, “Mamma Mia” knows how to keep its audience excited, making it the perfect movie to get ready for the upcoming season.
There are countless other films I’m sure people always associate with summer (“Jaws” was on my shortlist, but got cut for its potential discouragement from going to the beach), but these are certainly the ones that will do their best to encourage you to pack your beach bag.
“Mamma Mia” is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.