Thursday, July 25, 2013

What are the best summer movies of all time?

When most people think about summer they think about beaches and barbecues.

Summer does manage to muster up a certain level of nostalgia for just about everyone. For many, that nostalgia is wrapped around summer blockbusters and movies that stole their imagination for an entire afternoon (or a lifetime, in some cases).

It’s hard to define a summer movie – and picking a “best of” list is always subjective.

Still, what better do I have to do while I enjoy my air-conditioning and iced tea?

The best summer movies are?

10. Jurassic Park: As far as summer blockbusters with fantastic special effects go, this really is the cream of the crop. I can still remember seeing the dinosaurs walk onto the big screen for the first time – and the gasp of surprise from my absolutely overflowing theater audience. Those special effects still hold up today. The original ‘Jurrassic Park’ is clearly the best – but it didn’t succeed because of an outstanding story or the cast (both are just middling, if you ask me). The movie became a worldwide phenomenon on the strength of the dinosaurs alone – and there’s still a little magic in the dinosaur discovery even today.

9. Major League: This is one of those oddball comedies that had no business becoming a pop culture phenomenon – and yet it did. Tom Berenger centers a screwball cast that includes a pre-winning Charlie Sheen, a pre-prison Wesley Snipes, a pre-bald Corbin Bernsen and a pre-All-State Commercial Dennis Haysbert. The entire film is hilarious – and I can’t help but laugh every time I watch it. I also can’t help singing along to ‘Wild Thing’ every time I hear it.

8. Caddyshack: This is a great soundtrack and a laugh-out-loud movie that is effortlessly quotable – and forever funny. Bill Murray is not only hilarious (and steals every scene he’s in) but he’s also charismatic. Chevy Chase continues his funny tradition of the 1980s – which unfortunately fell apart given the actor’s antics of late. Still, I don’t know anyone that doesn’t watch the “shark in the pool” scene and laugh like a maniacal 12-year-old. Yeah, it’s low-brow but hilarious. I debated giving Chase’s ‘Vacation’ this spot – but ultimately tipped my hat to ‘Caddyshack.’

7. E.T.: Hands down, this is one of my all-time favorite movies. I remember being a kid and my mom
making me go to this movie – and then falling in love with it. The friendship between Elliott and E.T. is one for the ages. I don’t know anyone that wasn’t brought to tears at the end of the movie – and I’m just enough of a geek to admit that I can recite the entire goodbye scene between E.T. and the children from memory (tears included). To this day, the scene where E.T. and the boys are making their getaway on the bikes and E.T. flies them all over the cops is one of my all-time favorite movies scenes. “I’ll be right here.”

6. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Any one of the ‘Indiana Jones’ movies could have made the list – but I opted for my favorite. Harrison Ford is always appealing – even if the movies he chooses are duds – but his chemistry with Sean Connery is nothing short of magical. While I like most of the ‘Indiana Jones’ movies – this one is by far my favorite.

5. Top Gun: Kenny Loggins is a soundtrack God – and he’s half the reason that this summer flick
still stands up today. Long before he became famous for telling everyone else how to live, jumping on couches and being blindsided with divorce papers – Tom Cruise was just a hot guy in a really hot volleyball scene in a little movie that made everyone want to be a fighter pilot. The truth is, ‘Top Gun’ is still enthralling – and rousing -- and everyone needs to be reminded when they've lost that "loving feeling."

4. Ghostbusters: “What did you do Ray?” The 1980s flick could have went horribly wrong. Instead, everything went delightfully right. Between the casting – Bill Murray and Dan Ackeroyd have one of the best bromances ever – and the hilarious script, ‘Ghostbusters’ hit at the perfect time in cinematic history. The movie is a great mix of one-liners and emotional beats that still make fans laugh while worrying about the fate of their heroes.

3. The Goonies: I don’t know any kid that hasn’t sat at home on a rainy day and dreamed about
going on an adventure and finding buried treasure. That’s just what these kids did – and they did it with a lot of camaraderie and fun that can’t be matched in cinema. An argument can be made that ‘Stand By Me’ is the definitive kid adventure movie – and it is a great movie – but the ‘Goonies’ is the one film that can always brighten my day – no matter what. While I showed my geekdom by admitting that I can recite the entire goodbye scene of 'E.T.' above -- the truth is, I can recite this entire movie from beginning to end. Go ahead, start laughing.

2. Empire Strikes Back: Technically, ‘Star Wars’ was the first “summer” film of the franchise. ‘Empire’ was my favorite (and arguably the best). Sure, it’s weird to think about the ice planet Hoth being the location for a great summer movie – but it is. While ‘A New Hope’ introduced fans to the franchise, ‘Empire’ spawned one of the greatest love stories of all time – and one of the greatest revelations in movie history. “No, I am your father.” Anyone else really excited for the new ‘Star Wars’ in a couple years?

1. Jaws: Get out of the water! Never before has there been a film that simultaneously terrified me and engaged me more than ‘Jaws.’ The story, about a sleepy Cape Cod town that is terrorized by a Great White shark is timeless – even though two of the three main stars have since passed away. The film is beautifully shot by Steven Spielberg and the special effects – though dated – mostly still hold up today. The magic of ‘Jaws’ is not only the acting and the story but the score, as well. Movie legend has it that viewers were supposed to see more of the mechanical shark throughout the film – but since it was never working Spielberg had to do more suggestion than anything else. What a happy accident.

Honorable mentions go to:

Back to the Future: Michael J. Fox is so endearing as the central character – and the story is so fun – that this franchise continued to entertain decades later.

National Lampoon's Vacation: Hilariously tasteless and poignant at the same time. What's not to love?

Avengers: This movie just debuted last year but it’s still endlessly rewatchable (and full of fun beefcake).

Now and Then: This is a coming of age story for girls that has a delightful younger cast (and a fairly annoying older cast). Still, the fight scene at the ballpark will always be a winner for me (mostly because it's something I would have done at that age).

Stand By Me: This is a better movie than the ‘Goonies’ – but it’s more serious, as well. Sometimes you just want a few laughs in your summer movies.

Terminator 2: The first ‘Terminator’ could have also made the list but I went with the strongest entry in the franchise. Trust me.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley is one of my favorite big screen cops. I waffle back and forth between the first and second movies trying to decide which one is my favorite. The original gets the win here.

Indian Summer: If ‘Now and Then’ is a coming of age story for girls and ‘Stand By Me’ is a coming of age story for boys then this is a coming of age story for adults who are still struggling to find their “grown up” identity. "Uncle Lou, we're adults, you can't make adults take a swim test."

Grease: I’m not a big musical fan but this movie just screams summer.

What do you think? What are the best summer movies of all time?


Blogger krazyrabbit said...

I'd add to your list The Blues Brothers and Die Hard, two wonderful summer escapism films.

July 25, 2013 at 8:26 PM 
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