Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Best Summer Movies

Every season gives me a great excuse to watch certain movies. It becomes like a tradition, and I have become an expert at planning my seasonal viewing. Summer is no exception! Here are a few of my favorite movies that celebrate sunny days and freedom for kids who escape the clutches of the classroom. Enjoy it while you still can!

Some of the best childhood memories are road trips with the family. It didn't really matter where you were going, you were just excited to get out of town at all! Often times, the unexpected parts of the trip turned out to be the stories you would tell for years to come. This film took all the elements of the family vacation and, in typical Griswold fashion, magnified it times ten! Wally World happens to be their destination, but sometimes these places aren't nearly as great as we built them up to be in our mind. With the exception of Disneyland, of course.


This film was directed by Savage Steve Holland, better known for his debut film "Better Off Dead".  It shares a lot of the same style of humor, but this time John Cusack finds love on summer vacation and is willing to conquer his greatest fear to win the girl of his dreams. In this case, it means beating an arrogant rich kid and his friends in a sailing competition. It's a bit over the top, and the humor is a tad corny, but it's all in good fun.


This was the first in the popular Frankie & Annette movies from the 60's, and my personal favorite.  Not exactly the greatest moment in cinema history, but I can't help but love every minute of it.  It takes you back to an innocent time when hanging out with friends and going on dates with your sweetheart was all that seemed to matter!  Besides, what teenager doesn't prefer to spend all their summer days at beach?


This was the hottest movie of 1987!  Patrick Swayze was every girl's dream hunk, and Jennifer Gray was simple, yet appealing, as the girl-next-door.  I'm sure many people were inspired to take dance classes and book trips to resorts after seeing this film.  We also learned that "nobody puts Baby in a corner".  Over the years I have seen it dozens of times and still get the urge every so often to revisit it, like an old friend.


John Candy takes his family on vacation to a cabin in the wilderness, and who should show up but his shiesty in-law, Roman (Dan Ackroyd), and his oddball family. This seems to be a common theme among John Hughes movies, but in his hey day he pulled it off every time, and this was no exception.  There's even a bit of summer romance to boot.


Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin are together again after starring in On The Town.  This time they are engaging in America's favorite past time as professional baseball players.  The movie takes place somewhere around 1910, so get ready for some old fashioned music and fun.  Esther Williams also stars as the lovely team manager, K.C. Higgins, but we don't get the pleasure of seeing her in one of the elaborate swimming numbers she's so well known for.  Betty Garrett once again adds her own comic flavor as Frank's love interest.



Nothing ever works out for Charlie Brown, and going off to summer camp isn't going to change that.  Still, he gets an A for effort as he is chosen to be the leader in the raft race against some very competitive bullies. This feature is pretty low key, but that's just the Peanuts style. Still, there are some very funny moments and you can't help but enjoy going along for the ride!  The only thing I can't help but wonder is, where are all the adults at this camp?  The kids go off on a pretty dangerous, overnight raft ride with no supervision!


They're all a little looney!  This time we watch how each character spent their summer vacation (hence the title) and no one seems to be having as much fun as they planned!  Well, maybe with the exception of Hampton.  My favorite story here is where Plucky joins Hampton's family on a road trip to an amusement park called, Happy World Land. Similar to the Griswold's road trip to Wally World, there are lots of ups and downs throughout, but mostly downs. As for Babs & Buster, they spend most of their time up the river (literally) after going a little too far in a water gun fight.


An unusual outing by the kings of the holiday special, Rankin & Bass. Their stop motion style has been enchanting children for decades!  Most notably in the classic, "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer", but their hand drawn animated special, "Frosty The Snowman", has long been considered a classic as well. This time the two pair up for some Independence Day fun.  It's really not quite the same caliber as the former, but it's kind of a nice excuse to sneak in a little holiday cheer for summer. After all, I have to watch at least one special to celebrate Christmas In July!


GOONIES (1985)
When I was a kid, this movie absolutely ruled the day. My friends and I would go into the woods and pretend to be on some grand adventure, much like the Goonies experienced. Of course we never really found any pirate ships or treasure, and thankfully we were never held hostage by a creepy old lady and her criminal sons, but it was still fun to pretend that there was some hidden underground caves to be found.


STAND BY ME (1986)
Much like the Goonies, this movie is about a group of friends who set out for the adventure of their young lives. Although in this case their motivation is a bit more sinister...to find a dead body.  The neighborhood bully torments them in the process, but whenever Stephen King is at the helm there is certain to be an element of terror and disappointment. Things rarely end in a satisfying manner, but for these kids it's more about what they learn along the way.


I was never much of a sports fan, but my brothers sure were. Otherwise I don't know if I would have ever been introduced to this little gem that's a flashback to the summer of 1962. It's not really a typical sports film, with the exception of the underdog team being put to the test, but it's much more about friendship and learning how to work together. One of the highlights of the film is when the kids are forced to face what appears to be a vicious dog in the neighborhood. I think every neighborhood had one of these, but sometimes things aren't all they seem to be!


Kristin said...

Hmmm . . . haven't seen many of those. "Dirty Dancing" (but I'm not really a fan of it) and "Stand by Me" (ditto.) I'm not sure if I have any movies I have to watch in the summer . . . I'll have to think about that. (Oh, I DO like "Take Me Out To The Ball Game!")

Jakki said...

Wow, you never even saw National Lampoon's Vacation or The Great Outdoors?

Kristin said...


Kristin said...

OK, you can add "The Goofy Movie" as my favorite summer flick. :oP

Jakki said...

Goofy Movie is a good one! Maybe I'll add it next year. I've got more. :P

Kristin said...

Big Foot is on there. Hey, add "Harry and the Hendersons" and don't forget the family favorite, "What About Bob?"

Jakki said...

What About Bob was on my list, but I wanted to stick with 6 & 6 this time around. Also watched a flick with John Candy in it last night called "Summer Rental".