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- Paramount Pictures
11 movies guaranteed to put you in a sunny mood.
By David Riedel
Summer movies, in addition to being fun—though only occasionally—exist mainly as a way for studios to make major money (quality be damned) and for patrons to get out of the heat.
"But Dave," you say, "Salt Lake City summers feature what climate peeps call 'dry heat.'"
News flash: Dry heat is still heat, man. Just because it takes 15 minutes to start sweating instead of five, doesn't mean it ain't hot out there.
I can only speak for myself, but there are many times I've ducked into a movie house to avoid melting into a puddle of perspiration and angst. In fact, the only reason I've seen Bridesmaids and Wedding Crashers (see below) is because I wanted to avoid becoming a greasy spot on the sidewalk.
With that horrifying image in mind, if you're looking for a cool way to avoid the hot temps (I can't believe I just wrote that), take a gander at the list below, fire up the Netflix (or Hulu or Amazon Prime or HBO Go) and chill, baby, with these movies that scream summer! Yeah!
Back to the Future
This was the movie of the summer in 1985, and though it's completely dated, it's dated in a charming way. When your kids or the unemployed millennials who babysit them ask, "What's Pepsi Free?" you can say, "Oh, kid, sit back and let me learn ya something." Like the fact that George McFly ain't no one ta fuck with.
I was never a fan of Kristen Wiig on Saturday Night Live (she struck me as one-note), but I became a convert after Bridesmaids. The scene when she's freaking out on the plane is THE. BEST. Plus, Maya Rudolph is tops. Best line in the movie, via Ellie Kemper: "You are more beautiful than Cinderella! You smell like pine needles and have a face like sunshine!"
The Endless Summer
Filled with eye-popping surfing footage and dad-humor narration ("Lance is so relaxed on the surfboard's nose, you get the feeling he could have a ham sandwich while waiting around"), this laidback documentary takes the position that one could surf year-round if one stuck to the appropriate hemisphere. No other movie captures surfing's innate beauty so well. Fun pre-British Invasion-inspired music, too.
Technically Footloose isn't a summer movie; it was released in February. But something about it is totes summery. Maybe it's the sweaty dancing. Maybe it's the students' attempts to get a dancing ban lifted in order to have prom (the last thing you do before summer break). Maybe it's because Chris Penn (who's fantastic) sweats so much that it becomes an unspoken character trait. Of note: Footloose was filmed in Utah though it takes place in fictional Bomont (a stand-in for Elmore City, Okla.)
Mad Max: Fury Road
Fury Road isn't just a great action movie, it's one of the best movies ever made. George Miller topped everything he's ever done (including The Road Warrior and Babe!) in this tale of Max (Tom Hardy) helping a group of women escape evil Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Essentially one long car chase through the desert, Fury Road just feels hot. Of note: Charlize Theron is more badass than Hardy in this flick.
If The Endless Summer features surfing at its most carefree, Point Break is the movie that makes it a blood sport. No one seems to remember this, but Point Break didn't light up the box office when it was released in 1991. It's become a cult classic, and for good reason: Awesome surfing visuals, rip-snorting action and stellar performances by Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze and Gary Busey (I said it). It really is 100 percent pure adrenaline.
Here's the movie that made Sandra Bullock a star and resurrected Keanu Reeves' flagging career the first time (it's happened twice since with The Matrix and John Wick). Speed is so tense and action-packed it doesn't give you a chance to breathe, which is good, because there are some goofy moments ("Cans!"). But why quibble with an otherwise flawless summer ride? Best line (when Joe Morton is told there's a gap in the freeway): "YOU'RE FIRED! EVERYBODY'S FUCKIN' FIRED!"
This is my dark horse. Two graduating high school seniors and best friends (Michael Cera and Jonah Hill) endeavor to get summer girlfriends (Martha MacIsaac and Emma Stone) while dealing with the fact that they're going to different colleges in the fall. Funny, honest and surprisingly sweet despite its earned R-rating.
Perhaps this is most summer of all summer movies. Top Gun is at once a ton of fun with its thrilling flying sequences, and a reprehensible piece of jingoism because of its extreme right-wing us vs. the Commies bologna that was perfect for Reagan's America. The story is dumb—daddy issues, boo hoo!—but it coasts a lot on Tom Cruise's charm. Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer, Rick Rossovich and pre-fame Meg Ryan aid him immeasurably. Try to watch it on the big screen with a sound system so powerful you have to sit in a different room.
The Way, Way Back
This nifty little sleeper kind of came and went in the summer of 2013, but it's worth a watch. Lonely and awkward Duncan (Liam James) suffers through a long beach vacation with his mother (Toni Collette) and her mean-spirited boyfriend (a nasty Steve Carell). Local cool-guy Sam Rockwell and his pals, including Maya Rudolph, at the water park make it bearable. Another sweet (if predictable) summer flick with some good dramatic moments.
A peak among the many valleys that dot both Owen Wilson's and Vince Vaughn's careers, Wedding Crashers knocked everyone on their asses in the summer of 2005 (it was a huuuuuuge hit). The story of two guys who pose as brothers to crash weddings (duh) and meet women, it won't win points for progressivism, but it's a riot nonetheless. Wilson's natural smarm charms and Vaughn's bulldozer personality is somehow endearing. A sharp supporting cast brings it all together.