Whether it's streaming or simply watching them on the old TV, there are plenty of classic — and underrated — summer movie comedies to enjoy. He's a look at 25 films that seem even better when taken in during the summer.
Regarded in plenty circles as one of the greatest movies of all time, "American Graffiti" is the epitome of the coming-of-age comedy . George Lucas directed it, Ron Howard and Richard Dreyfuss starred and Harrison Ford was also along for the ride. High school graduates looking for one last hurrah as summer vacation nears an end is a traditional rite of summer passage.
Far from a PC movie, and one that might be downright offensive to many in this day and age; however, summer means baseball, especially little league. By far the best movie about organized little league baseball, the Walter Matthau vehicle is inappropriate and endearing at the same time. Plus, how many kids can change speeds on the ball like Amanda Whurlitzer (Tatum O'Neal)?
Technically, "Grease" really gets going at the start of the school year. However, Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy's (Olivia Newton-John) fling takes place in the summer. Come on, Summer Nights? Grease is a great sing-a-long film and has managed to stand the test of time and span generations of fans. So find a poodle skirt and slick back the hair for a good time while spending a summer night at home.
Are you ready for the summer? That's the question when talking about the original summer camp romp. In his first starring role, Bill Murray is the wacky head counselor at a summer camp full of misfits looking for a good time. By today's standards, the movie is pretty tame but randy enough to still draw plenty of laughs on a summer viewing. Why? because "it just doesn't matter!"
Plenty will hit the links in earnest this summer. There's also a good bet many times over that lines from this comedy golf classic will be spewed while trying to sink a big putt or flopping one into a water hazard. Another film that might not be for the whole family and probably could not be made today — it's from those less-stringent times of the late 1970s and early '80s. Yet it's just so much fun for golf fans to revisit.
Car travel might be the preferred method of vacationing for the time being. So why not take a crash course in what not to do in this family road trip staple? That being said, the Griswolds are good for plenty of laughs, starting with the classic that spawned a movie franchise. The Family Truckster, Aunt Edna, Wally World. For those unable to take a summer vacation, here you go?
A truly special movie for kids and families, and while it's certainly a comedy of good fun, it's also heartwarming and genuine. The adventure of trying to find a lost treasure is the focal point, but "The Goonies" is also a great example friendship and pride. The legacy of the film, starring Sean Astin and Josh Brolin, was enhanced when the gang got together for a virtual 2020 reunion via Zoom.
Those fans of 1980s teen films probably remember this underrated romantic comedy . For everybody else, it's likely not on many radars. That doesn't mean it's not worth a trip back in time. John Cusack (as Hoops McCann - great name) and Demi Moore (a musician running from a biker gang) spend a summer on Nantucket. It can be a little over the top, but it also has a great deal of charm.
Late funny man John Candy and buddy Dan Aykroyd get together for some outdoor family fun. Nothing better than good times at a lake retreat, unless everybody does not get along. Still, this is a 1980s classic that Gen Xers might want to pass along to their kids this summer. It's harmless, yet hilarious. Just don't let any bears enter the house when up at that family cabin.
Arguably Spike Lee's best movie or at the very least, his most recognizable. There are many moments of brilliant comedy — usually from the late Danny Aiello. But as with all of Lee's films, there's a message, in this case, trying to make sense and deal with racial tensions during a summer in Brooklyn. Lee stars as Mookie, a pizza delivery slacker looking for purpose.
Summer love is a consistent theme in the movies. However, when it comes to this Cameron Crowe hit, it's also a movie for the underdog. Slacker everyman Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) shoots for the moon in asking out brilliant and beautiful Diane Court (Ione Skye). Their relationship is quite the adventure over the summer. It still holds up well enough for today's teens to appreciate. Then, of course, there's the famous boom box scene.
Now, we don't we encourage toting around a dead guy at any point during the summer. That would just seem weird. However, it sure is fun to watch. Nothing better than some senseless comedy courtesy of two 1980s staples: Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman. It's the kind of comedy that is actually needed during this time, as it is mindless,and a break from reality. Enjoy! We'll even suggest the 1993 sequel too.
More Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss. This is one of Murray's unheralded comedic roles, as he plays the unsteady Bob, who tracks his cocky psychiatrist (Dreyfuss) on a lake vacation. Of course, hilarity ensues — as one would imagine. Another film with a vacation theme and outdoor setting that is just a fun way to break free from reality for a bit.
Perhaps the most family friendly film on this list. Again, summer means baseball. especially for your children. For those of a certain age, playing baseball in an open field or vacant lot was a staple of summer fun. "The Sandlot" no doubt depicts that well but also showcases friendship, belonging and forging relationships that have the potential to last a lifetime. Another movie readily available for those still watching on cable.
While this Richard Linklater gem takes place over the last day of school in 1976, it's a gateway to summer for junior high and school students. It's a film that's pretty relatable, maybe not exactly in the same manner (not condoning underage drinking or the use of other substances) but enough that there's the potential for that one adventurous, exciting, socially significant day in everyone's life.
This was made back when Lindsay Lohan was an innocent budding child star. While times have changed in that sense, her breakthrough role as twins in this modern version of "The Parent Trap " remains a Disney classic. It's a great family film that has plenty of wholesome humor and feel-good moments. However, it's also a little bittersweet seeing the late Natasha Richardson shine on screen.
Despite struggling upon release, this satirical look at summer teenage hijinks/sex romps is grown into a cult favorite . It can be slow at times, but like the previously mentioned "Dazed and Confused" (which is arguably a better-paced movie) it has a knack of growing on one after enough showings. It also boasts one powerful cast, including David Hyde Pierce, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler and Bradley Cooper to name just a few.
Soccer is a year-round sport, but this is another family movie that seems to make sense as a mid-week, summer night option, regardless if it's a house full of sports fans or not. Jess (Parminder Nagra) is a Sikh teen living in London torn between pleasing her strict family and her love of the game. The movie also introduced Keira Knightley to a worldwide audience.
This is based on the popular Ann Brashares novel, with the screenplay co-written by the late, brilliant Nora Ephron. Young — at the time — Hollywood stars Blake Lively, Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera and Amber Tamblyn don't disappoint. The book has long seemed like required reading for adolescent girls, and the movie is one today's youth can also enjoy. It's a story of four close friends spending a summer apart, but still bonded together. Make it a double dip and include the sequel.
No offense at all to the classic 1988 John Waters version of the film; however, this take is based on the the Broadway musical from the early 2000s. It's also a little less campy than the original and features Hollywood heavyweights like John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and Christopher Walken. Also the final ensemble number of "You Can't Stop The Beat" is the highlight and done remotely quite well.
Here's a secret for those with an infant at home: while Pierce Brosnan's voice can be nauseating at times, this is a very visual film. While watching on HD, it tends to capture a child's attention and can offer mom and dad some quiet moments. It's campy and overindulgent, but the music of ABBA usually means a good time . Don't be surprised if you find yourself dancing around the living room with Meryl Streep and Co.
A little dirtier version of a rom-com, with an almost kind of indie, coming-of-age feel. College grad James (Jesse Eisenberg) needs money and ends up working at a shoddy amusement park for the summer , alongside Emily (Kristen Stewart). The two hit it off, which has its moments of sweetness. However, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Ryan Reynolds and Martin Starr provide quality support.
Can't have a list like this without some animated entertainment. As we've covered, musicals can be a fun way to enjoy some family viewing, and "Trolls" comes through. This happy-go-lucky species likes to sing and dance but has to face some adversity. Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake and Christine Baranski are just a few of the multi-talented stars lending their voices to this hit.
Plenty of heavy hitters in this cast: Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish and Jada Pinkett Smith. The "Flossy Posse" heads to New Orleans for a music festival. Maybe the perfect summer girls night film — perhaps even doing so remotely. The laughs are plenty and offer an opportunity for fun while longing for a time when these kinds of experiences again become the norm.
Barely in theaters, this female comedy and mini "Saturday Night Live" reunion (Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer and Tina Fey) found a home on Netflix. Many might not even know of this picture about a group of women taking part in a wine tour in California. Though the plot and overall comedy might not live up to the reputation of these big names, it's still a fun vacation film that female — and male — fans can appreciate and enjoy.
Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.