Top Ten Summer Movies
Summer movies hold a special place in my heart. What makes a summer movie?
They're usually terrible, with plots more hole than substance, beautiful people
in beautiful places doing beautiful things, and they're the absolute best when
you don't feel like thinking because it's 101 degrees outside. They're the kind
of movies that make you daydream and think about the best moments from summers
past and dream about summers future.
So now that the last vestiges of summer are disappearing (or, in Houston, lingering around like an unwanted guest), enjoy the list of the top 10 best summer movies.
10. My Life in Ruins
Nia Vardalos stars in this romantic comedy about a tour guide in Greece who struggles to find the Greek "love for life". Yes, it's your typical chick flick. Yes, it's the same chick and the same schtick from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Yes, it's totally awesome anyway. It's charming, beautifully shot, and makes you melt a little inside. Actually, this is one movie I honestly would say that I would prefer it if they had focused more on the romance and less on the side stories—and trust me when I say that this is a rare, rare thing.
9. Fool's Gold
This movie was released in the spring, which was a mistake. The scenery, plot, even the actors are pure summer. This movie makes you start thinking about things like chucking away your job and life to go be an underwater treasure hunter somewhere in the Caribbean. The soundtrack consists of reggae classics, including Bob Marley, and the plot is peripheral compared to gratuitous shots of sparkling blue water and shots of Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson in swimsuits. If you try to actually enjoy this movie for its plot, you will start tearing your hair out. The first time I watched this movie, I kept saying, "Wait a minute, didn't they just--" and then Matthew McConaughey would appear without his shirt again and I'd forget it. So pop it in, kick back, and let your mind shut off completely.
8. Blue Crush
I first heard about this movie because of my not so unreasonable crush on Michelle Rodriguez and found out it was based on a wonderful piece by Susan Orleans called, "Surf Girls of Maui", which is well worth reading. It focuses on Kate Bosworth, a girl big-wave surfer who had a bad spill and now struggles to overcome her fear of surfing again in time for the big surf contest. This one I have the opposite complaint about than My Life in Ruins; I wish they spent more time on the storyline and less on the romance. Still, the supporting cast is wonderful, especially the beautiful and absolutely charming Sanoe Lake, and the storyline, while it may be cliche, still makes me smile.
7. The Endless Summer Series
The first is the 1966 classic, Endless Summer (natch), the second, Endless Summer II, filmed in 1994, and the "unofficial" third, Step Into Liquid. The first feels like a real-life Gidget movie, but has its charm in nostalgia and a kind of quirky look at '60s surf-life. The second features two modern surfers who grew up watching the original and plan to pursue it. It captures the spirit of the first, particularly with the original's director/writer Bruce Brown narrating, while tackling issues with surfing today, such as housing development and overcrowding. Step Into Liquid is more documentary, less slapstick, but is still an awesome movie and is actually directed by the son of Bruce Brown. It looks at the evolution of surfing from early Polynesian surfing to modern surfers. If you've ever seen Riding Giants, then you'll recognize many of the same surfers: Laird Hamilton, Kelly Slater, and Gerry Lopez among others.
6. Fantastic Four 1 & 2
So you may have noticed a trend with my favorite summer movies thus far. They all have beautiful shots of islands and crystal water and surfing. Fantastic Four may not seem like it, but it's got the same elements that draw me to the other movies: it doesn't take itself too seriously. Chris Evans is pretty to look at, too. Many people compared this unfavorably to other superhero movies that came out during the same time period, but again, I don't think you're meant to take this movie seriously. No, it's not as polished as Ironman nor does it have the psychological finesse of Batman, but it's got decent action scenes, some funny lines, and Chris Evans' boyish good looks.
5. Pirates of the Caribbean
Remember when Pirates of the Caribbean came out? When Orlando Bloom was still popular and we all had those wonderful hopes that the other movies would be just as hilarious and fun as the first?
In that magical time, before our hopes were dashed with two awful sequels, we had Pirates of the Caribbean, which introduced us to Captain Jack Sparrow. And we loved it. Everything about this movie--the swelling music, the romanticized pirates who wore tri-cornered hats and beads in their dreadlocks, even the chilling ghost story that reminded me of Caribbean folk legends, humid and hot and spooky all at the same time, everything about this movie was fun. I was so disappointed by the second that I had almost forgotten how good the first one was. Do yourself a favor and re-watch the original.
4. Mamma Mia!
I confess, I wasn't that much of an ABBA fan before I saw this, but immediately went and bought all their songs after I saw this movie. This movie has a lot to criticize: for one thing, no one is going to be rushing to offer Pierce Brosnan a record deal. But it's still an absolute blast to watch and makes me happy all over. I'm normally not a huge fan of musicals, but this is one I could watch all day. The plot is feel-good, the music is feel-good, and to top it all off, there are beautiful, beautiful shots of Greek islands throughout the entire film. Like I said, it's the perfect movie to leave on in the background; nothing feels as good as belting out "Dancing Queen" while cleaning the house. Just make sure no one’s around first.
3. Fast and Furious series (except for Tokyo Drift)
I am a guy-movie-girl. I love action movies and being awful does not detract me from watching it. Fast and Furious pretty much hits everything I love about summer if you don't include surfing: hot cars, hot people, hotness everywhere. Paul Walker practically glitters in every shot, if you watch 2 Fast, 2 Furious, you get the bonus of watching Eva Mendes pretend she's not starring in a terrible movie while the two male leads live it up in the background to a soundtrack that actually made me kind of like hip-hop, and finally we reach the fourth (seriously, do not watch Tokyo Drift, it's not worth it), which is more serious and actually a little bit more polished than the previous, but for my money, I'll take the first any day. It's got Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel and pretty much embodies everything terrible (acting, lines, plot) about these movies and yet... everything I kind of love about them, too.
2. The Replacements
Yes, I am a total sucker for sports movies and this is one of my favorites. Keanu Reeves stars in this summer-sports farce. The plot features around second chances; a pro-football team goes on strike, forcing the league to hire scabs as replacements (hence the title). Naturally, these scabs are all odd-balls who have some form of quirky eccentricity. Keanu Reeves plays the replacement quarterback, who was on the professional-track, except he chokes whenever the pressure is on. It's got a romantic storyline with the head cheerleader (yes, the quarterback and the cheerleader get together), some truly funny moments with the replacement team, and makes you remember why rooting for the underdog is so much fun.
Number one on the list is someone featured on this list before, Matthew McConaughey. What can I say, the man embodies summer. In this story, based on the Clive Cussler novel (perfect summer reading, by the way), McConaughey plays Dirk Pitt, adventurer, romantic, and explorer extraordinaire, with his trusty sidekick, Al Giordino. It's got everything you want from a summer movie: a plot so weird and off-beat that there's no way it should work, beautiful shots of water, a soundtrack that includes an Epic Scene corresponding with "Magic Carpet Ride", gorgeous male lead meeting a gorgeous female lead, adventure, comedy, you name it.
This movie, unlike Mamma Mia!, My Life in Ruins, and some of the others, doesn't give you a warm fuzzy feeling, it gives you a rush. The others may make you think about running away to have an adventure, this one makes you feel like you're already in one. I love this movie. It is absolutely one of my favorite movies, but it definitely, hands-down, wins for the best summer movie.