A life without love is like a year without summer.  ~Swedish Proverb

The summer has a magical way of intoxicating the senses and adding a sense of whimsy and wit into all of our lives.  Something about the sun being out more than usual, the weather warming, and the general expectation to have fun allow us to let our guards down and enjoy the little things in life.  Cinema has always had this similar magical feel, albeit year-round.  However in the summertime it is important to stay well versed in film, and there are a few that add quite a bit to the season’s magic.  Keep in mind these are not listed in any order, as I could not bring myself to choose which ones are the “best”.  They all merely exist in a great summer film category.  They should be viewed with friends on warm, late nights.  Preferably outdoors.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer

500 Days of Summer:  While not chosen for the title, this film encompasses the hopefulness of the middle season and the idyllic feel.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel have dynamite chemistry and genuinely seem to be having fun on screen together.  This is a romantic film for men, as it is told from the guy’s perspective.  It features many moments that are relatable to real life and real experiences in love and loss; So much that you are sure to compare the romance on screen to a relationship in your past or a current relationship.  Plus the Hall & Oates montage is just plain awesome.

Jaws: Spielberg’s quintessential summer movie is a must for a summer night, especially in a place close to the coast. This film basically invented the summer blockbuster by grossing so much money in its early summer release.  The film creates such a genuine sense of fear of the unknown predator in the water, which was a necessity due to the failure of the mechanical shark.  It has inspired many, many impersonations yet none create the same fun and scary ride that Spielberg has now mastered.

Grease: The Musical that launched John Travolta to stardom and Olivia-Newton John to mediocrity is essential summer viewing.  It chronicles with great accuracy the pure bliss of summer love, then the frustrating reality of that Fall brings with it.  It is full of great fifty’s music and nostalgic high school experiences.  It arrives on this list even though it isn’t set during the summer.  This is because the whole film leads into the final scene at the end of the school year carnival.  Nothing is more summer than the last day of school, that euphoric feeling of freedom that can never be replicated.  That alone makes me want to sing, “You’re the One That I Want.”

Wet, Hot, American Summer: This movie slipped under the radar at the time of its release in 2001, making just under 300,000 dollars at the box office compared to a 5 million dollar budget.  However since it’s release on home video it has steadily gained a following of loyal fans.  People love this movie because it is about summer camp, one of the timeless American summer traditions.  It also features stars from today such as Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, and Molly Shannon.  It’s grown so popular because people can connect so may of their memories to the film and their great times at summer camp.

This is a shortlist, there are obviously many more that are worthy and many more that qualify.  These were what struck me at the time, but what about all you?  Favorite summer movie ever?

Home Culture Top Movies to Watch in the Summertime