Who doesn’t love summer? The sun, the beach, and no school. This makes it prime moviegoing season, as everyone is free and looking to beat the heat. What better way to do that then retreating to an air conditioned movie theater? Luckily, even before “Jaws” invented the blockbuster, beach movies were already a staple at cinemas. Some things never change, as two beach themed movies duke it out this week at the Memorial Day box office. Disney’s sequel “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” faces off against TV remake “Baywatch.” Which will win? That remains to be seen. However, for those of you looking for an alternative beach movie this Memorial Day, check out the list of best beach movies below.
10. “Lilo & Stitch” (2002)
Is it weird that few Disney films make me cry as much as “Lilo & Stitch.” Stitch is an alien that crash lands in Hawaii only to be taken in by Lilo, an outcast Hawaiian girl. Like in any Disney movie, Lilo is without parents and is instead raised by her older sister, Nani, who struggles to get by while under review by Cobra Bubbles, a social worker. The film takes the stereotypical laid back perception of Hawaii and shows a family in conflict trying to make things work in a tropical paradise. The film is engaging and action packed. However, even more than that, its a winning testament to not-so-normal families trying to make things work with whatever means necessary.
9. “Blue Crush” (2002)
So much of this movie could have come off as bland “surfer girl power” teeny-bopper flick. If we are being realistic, a great deal of the film is just that. However, there is something positively winning about each cliched moment of the film. At the center of the film is Kate Bosworth as Anne Marie, a star surfer who finds herself in a burgeoning relationship with a football star (Matthew Davis). Michelle Rodriguez also makes a winning turn as Eden, Anne Marie’s best friend and hard edged best friend that keeps her eye on the prize. It’s a fun surfing film with a great message about female empowerment. There’s nothing one can’t do if they work hard and keep focused on their goals. It’s the perfect movie to relax to with the AC on when the heat of the summer has got one down.
8. “50 First Dates” (2004)
Believe it or not, some of Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison comedies are legitimately good. Henry (Sandler) is a playboy in Hawaii who has never committed to a relationship. That is until he meets Lucy (Drew Barrymore), a beautiful and energetic woman. However, he finds out that she suffers from a rare condition that wipes her memory each night, due to a traumatic car crash. Once one gets over the setup, they can appreciate the wonderfully sweet film about a commitment-phobe learning to stick around and work for the woman he loves. The film walks a hard line between baseline humor and handling Lucy’s condition with respect and dignity. Sandler and Barrymore have a sparkling chemistry. The jokes may be crude, but don’t be ashamed to admit if you laughed throughout.
7. “Mamma Mia” (2008)
A curious bride, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), mails wedding invitations to three possible fathers unbenownced to her motel owning mother, Donna (Meryl Streep). The jukebox musical “Mamma Mia” may not be looked at as high craft. However, there’s a reason the film remains the second top grossing musical worldwide (after this year’s “Beauty and the Beast”). The entire ensemble embraces the fun of frolicking on a beach for two hours singing Abba. While not all actors have the gift of singing (ahem, Pierce Brosnan), everyone is having the time of their lives. This cosmic joy is infectious and bounces off each frame in a way few films have captured. Don’t mind me. I’ll just be humming “Dancing Queen” until the sequel “Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again” dances into theaters in 2018.
6. “From Here to Eternity” (1953)
There aren’t many more romantic moments than Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr making out in the sand. This iconic image no doubt inspired many a fool’s errand of rolling around the beach with their beloved. However, even outside of the classic still, the movie around it is quite compelling. The romantic drama at a Hawaiian based army camp features everything one could want. There’s star crossed lovers and a sensuous affair. Donna Reed plays an “improper” woman at a gentleman’s club in an Oscar winning performance. Even Frank Sinatra earns his supporting actor trophy as an ill fated hothead recruit. It’s no wonder the film won Best Picture. For those looking for an involving and ill fated summer romance, look no further than this classic.
5. “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003)
Few genres seemed as dead as the pirate genre. The bomb “Cutthroat Island” seemed to put the nail in that coffin. However, the on-paper cash grab based off a Disneyland ride turned out to be one of the riskiest and most fresh blockbusters of the millennium. While the character has been run into the ground by star Johnny Depp getting lazier at characterization, Captain Jack Sparrow’s first entry was cataclysmic. For as much as people love to lay the success of the film at Capt. Jack’s hands, there are many other things working. Gore Verbinski has a great skill at filming action. Keira Knightley also displays impressive star power in an early role that led her to the stardom she possesses today. It’s a rolicking great action flick that more than stands the test of time in its own right.
4. “The Little Mermaid” (1989)
Few films were as watched in my childhood than the VHS for “The Little Mermaid.” Ariel captures one’s heart as she longs to escape the ocean and live as a human up on the sea. Her quest for independence is personified by the dreamy Prince Eric who saves her one fateful day. However, in order to be with her beloved, Ariel must sacrifice her voice to the evil sea witch, Ursula. It takes quite a film to kick start the Disney Renaissance. Thankfully, “The Little Mermaid” is an exceedingly charming romance that has more to it than meets the eye. It’s touching to watch the complicated father-daughter relationship serve as the emotional fulcrum of the final scene. Plus, few Disney songs are as beautiful and affecting as “Part of Your World.” Needless to say, this shall remain a classic for generations to come.
3. “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999)
Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law) has the right idea. Who wouldn’t abandon America to frolic around various Italian beaches? That’s the thinking behind trust fund kid Dickie, who runs off with his love Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow), much to his Father’s (James Rebhorn) dismay. In comes Tom Ripley (Matt Damon), a hired hand, to bring him in. Too bad Tom becomes infatuated not only with the sun drenched beaches, but also with Dickie himself. Director Anthony Minghella knows how to bring out all the beauty in Italy, not that it needed any help. The film is a beautiful marvel that will have you planning your next vacation. That is until the blood starts to spill and one becomes engrossed in the lies and mystery around each turn.
2. “Some Like It Hot” (1959)
Billy Wilder’s classic comedy is quite a lot of things. It’s a cross dressing extravaganza. It’s an uproarious romantic comedy. In fact, it was even cited as a gangster film by AFI. However, one can also define the tale of two musicians masquerading as females on a music tour to escape vengeful mobsters as a classic beach tale. Joe and Jerry (Josephine and Daphne) wind up in Miami where the hijinks and romantic entanglements ensue. Joe (Tony Curtis), in particular, has great fun wooing a beach bound Sugar (Marilyn Monroe) by pretending to be a rich, yacht owning man. Who can forget the classic ending of Jerry (Jack Lemmon) revealing to his older suitor that he is, in fact, a man? “Well, nobody’s perfect.” The two sail away into the sunset on a perfectly timed belly laugh. If one is looking for a good laugh this summer, look no further.
1. “Jaws” (1975)
There’s a reason the term blockbuster started with a beach movie. Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” had everything you could want in a film. It was scary. It was thrilling. Even more so, it was popcorn escapism that affected you on a guttural level. The film wastes no time making the audience squirm in their seat. Two kids sneak off from a party and go skinny dipping for some summer fun. The only issue, one girl feels something grab hold of her. Suddenly, she can’t escape and blood surrounds her. Our villain in question remains out of sight, and will continue to be out of sight for much of the film. Spielberg indulges us in our base fear of sharks and makes us almost never want to visit the beach again. It may cause one’s blood to run cold, but it isn’t summer without an obligatory “Jaws” re-watch.