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7 great movies to watch in the summer

Now that the hazy, lazy days of summer are upon us, there are plenty of opportunities to get outside and do whatever it is you might want to do there. The natural world is full of wonders that are well worth exploring. When you’ve had your fill of all that, though, you might be looking for a few summer movies that extend the vibe of summer, but come with the comforts of air conditioning.

These movies are sure to fit the bill, and they range from laugh-out-loud comedies to edge-of-your-seat thrillers, which hopefully means there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Dirty Dancing (1987)

Dirty Dancing
Drama, Music, Romance
Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze, Jerry Orbach
Directed by
Emile Ardolino
Watch on Peacock

Telling the story of a summer of forbidden love between the daughter of a wealthy New York City family and a down-on-his-luck dance instructor, Dirty Dancing is one of the sexier blockbusters ever made to include very little actual sex.

The movie works because of the scintillating chemistry between Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, and because it knows to lean into to sexual chemistry of its stars. The final lift is iconic for a reason, but the dancing is excellent throughout, making it one of the best movies on an admittedly short list of great dance movies as well.

Dirty Dancing (1987 Movie) Official 35th Anniversary Trailer - Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey

Jaws (1975)

Horror, Thriller, Adventure
Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss
Directed by
Steven Spielberg
Watch on Amazon

If you’re headed to the beach this summer, Jaws may not be the ideal thing to watch before you leave. Almost 50 years after the movie first hit theaters, though, Jaws remains one of Steven Spielberg’s most definitively great films. It tells the story of a small Massachusetts town being terrorized by the presence of an especially persistent and sinister shark.

The movie is still just as frightening as the moment it first hit theaters, and it features a trio of legendary central performances. Spielberg’s camera is the ultimate star, though, and Jaws is the reason we all know his name today.

Jaws | Trailer | Own it on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital

Midsommar (2019)

Horror, Drama, Mystery
Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper
Directed by
Ari Aster
Watch on Paramount+

A great movie about the tyranny of daylight, Midsommar focuses on a traumatized young woman who travels with her boyfriend and his friends to a town in Sweden where the sun never sets.

The events that unfold once she arrives are harrowing and gruesome, but part of the movie’s inherent charm is that they take place against the backdrop of Sweden’s beautiful vistas. One of studio A24’s best horror movies, Midsommar takes the beauty of the natural world and twists and perverts it, all the way up until its final revelatory moments. It also firmly cemented Florence Pugh as a generational talent.

MIDSOMMAR | Official Trailer HD | A24

Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

Wet Hot American Summer
Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Michael Showalter
Directed by
David Wain
Watch on Amazon

Set at a summer camp that would probably be fairly unpleasant to actually attend, Wet Hot American Summer is really just a series of extended, interrelated sketches, and each of those sketches is painfully brilliant.

Featuring an all-star roster of comedic talents in the earliest stages of their careers, including Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania‘s Paul Rudd, Wet Hot American Summer is hilarious in a way that most modern comedies never dare to be anymore. Is it stupid? Yes. But if you want a movie that will make you laugh until you cry, you need look no further.

Wet Hot American Summer Trailer

Do the Right Thing (1989)

Do the Right Thing
Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee
Directed by
Spike Lee
Watch on Amazon

It’s impossible to feel the temperature of a movie, but Do the Right Thing gets you pretty close. Set over the course of a single exceptionally hot day in a neighborhood in Brooklyn, Do the Right Thing remains a deeply relevant commentary on the state of race in America.

The film follows the inhabitants of the block as tensions continue to rise between the primarily Black residents and the Italian owners of a pizza parlor on the corner. When things eventually erupt into violence, the results feel both tragic and utterly predictable, which is of course the whole point.

Do the Right Thing Official Trailer #1 - Danny Aiello Movie (1989) HD

Girls Trip (2017)

Girls Trip
Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith
Directed by
Malcolm D. Lee
Watch on Amazon

The movie responsible for giving us the comedic genius of Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip is one of the great comedies of the 21st century. The film follows a group of old college friends who reunite in New Orleans because one of them is receiving an award.

Over the course of the weekend, things get both hilarious and weird. Haddish is definitely a standout, but Jada Pinkett-Smith, Regina Hall, and Queen Latifah all turn in fine work as well, making this one of several movies on this list that we definitely need a sequel to.

Girls Trip - Official Trailer #2 [HD]

Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)

Everybody Wants Some!!
Blake Jenner, Zoey Deutch, Ryan Guzman
Directed by
Richard Linklater
Watch on Amazon

Following a college freshman who has joined his college baseball team on the last day of summer before school officially starts, Everybody Wants Some!! is a hangout movie in the truest sense of the word.

The film has a wonderful ensemble of young male actors that includes Glen Powell from Top Gun: Maverick and Zoey Deutch, and they play off of each other in magnificent ways. What truly makes the movie work, though, is the way that the movie captures the possibility of a day defined by a total lack of obligations. It’s a feeling you want to hold onto from the second the movie starts until long after it’s over. Everybody Wants Some!!! is the kind of movie you never want to leave.

Everybody Wants Some (2016) - Official Trailer - Paramount Pictures
Movie images and data from:
Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance writer based in upstate New York focused on movies and TV.
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