Summer is for box office hits. There are few things better than a movie screening outdoors, or even watching a hit film as soon as it’s released. But what makes a quintessential summer film? Well, it should take place during the summer months, capturing those feelings of freedom, possibility and warm weather.
Another aspect that will help transform a film into “the film of the summer” would be if it could capture a wider audience. It would need to be a movie that everyone wants to see and talk about. Something truly buzz-worthy and universal. It’s a playful film, with memorable dialogue, and a wry sense of humor. Below, let’s go through a few particularly great films that fit perfectly for the best season of the year.
“Jaws” (1975) dir. Steven Spielberg
“Jaws” is the quintessential summer film that is also a vital piece of film history. The thriller, whose violence may feel benign by today’s standards, successfully captures that summer movie experience. “Jaws” accomplishes this while also inciting summer scares. The film brilliantly takes a fear that plagues many vacationers – the fear of predators from the deep blue sea – and examines it on a large scale.
“Inherent Vice” (2014) dir. Paul Thomas Anderson
With an all-star cast that includes Joaquin Phoenix, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin, and Joanna Newsom, it’s hard not to enjoy this cooky film. What makes PTA’s trippy entry work is the electric “Doc” Sportello (Phoenix), who fumbles through a befuddling, nonsensical world with dopey charm. It is the atmospheric qualities that makes this movie ideal for summer, and the fact that it is set in a nostalgic Los Angeles helps, too. “Inherent Vice” is an adventure film made out of pipe dreams.
“Booksmart” (2019) dir. Olivia Wilde
Wilde’s directorial debut is perhaps the film of this summer. With masterful performances by the leads Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, the coming-of-age movie is a female-led cast and production that balances the raunchiness of “Superbad” with a celebration of female friendship and sexuality. With an electric supporting role by Billie Lourd, “Booksmart” has a strong appeal. Many will be replaying the movie time and time again throughout the summer.
“Moonrise Kingdom” (2012) dir. Wes Anderson
This playful romp from Wes Anderson, “Moonrise Kingdom” captures the all-consuming feeling of being young, moody, and in love. It introduced us to up-and-coming star Kara Hayward, and brought in some of Anderson’s usual suspects like Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman, in addition to stars Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and a surprising Bruce Willis. Anderson evokes the energy of a wayward New England summer throughout the movie. It’s breezy and dramatic all at once, perfect for summer.