The sun is shining, the mercury is rising, and the drinks are flowing. Summer is here, it’s getting hot, and now is the time to kick-back and enjoy some lazy summer fun.
And when the sun is blazing in the sky and things are getting a bit too hot, what’s better than sitting back with a bit of big screen escapism? Watching a movie can be the perfect way to dodge the heat and keep cool, and in this post I’m serving up plenty of top summer flicks to choose from!
From big blockbusters to touching coming-of-age stories, these scorchin’ summer sizzlers are perfect for anyone’s watchlist. Here you’ll find plenty of movies which are summer themed, and will keep you entertained during the longer days and lighter nights.
Oh, and these films are also ideal for those wanting to hold onto (or recapture) the summer days, when the weather takes a turn for the worst. So, if you’re reading this post once the sun stops shining, these films should heat you up a degree or two.
Summer of ’85 (2020)
First up, a touch of romance with the French-Belgian LGBTQ+ romantic drama, Summer of ‘85. The film – starring Benjamin Voisin and Félix Lefebvre – follows the story of two young men who fall in love, whilst living in a coastal town.
However, things don’t run quite so smoothly for the pair, leading to a great deal of heartache along the way. Yet despite some tears, Summer of ‘85 is a superb romance movie, perfect for those seeking a dash of love during the long hot summer.
BMX Bandits (1983)
Next up is a rip-roarin’ Australian adventure film, and an ‘80s cult classic to boot! The movie is BMX Bandits – a beloved children’s movie about a trio of bike riding kids, who find themselves getting in over their heads when they cross paths with a gang of crooks.
Although BMX Bandits is mostly famous for giving a teenage Nicole Kidman one of her first major acting roles, the film remains a lot of fun in its own right. BMX Bandits is a pure bit of escapism, and a reminder of the more carefree (and adventurous) summers of yesteryear.
Rear Window (1954)
A change of pace now with this tense thriller from director Alfred Hitchcock. Set over a string of sizzling summer nights, Rear Window follows the story of a man who becomes convinced his neighbour is a murderer.
Starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly, and Raymond Burr, Rear Window is a nerve-shredding picture which has lost none of its sparkle over the years. If you want to lose yourself in suspense and mystery this summer, it is certain to offer all this and more.
Summer of ’84 (2018)
In Summer of ‘84, four teenage boys begin to suspect their neighbour is behind a series of disappearances. However, this same neighbour is a police officer and a highly respected member of the local community.
Can the teens get to the bottom of the mystery, or are they in over their heads? All the answers and more can be found in this superb throwback to the ‘80s, which feels like the perfect mash-up of The Goonies (1985) and The ‘Burbs (1989).
The Kings of Summer (2013)
Next up, Nick Robinson and Nick Offerman star in this coming-of-age comedy-drama, about three teenagers who move out of their homes and build a house in the woods. Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, The Kings of Summer highlights the conflict that can arise between adults and teens, in a film which is both touching and humorous.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)
Set ten years after the events of Mamma Mia!, this all-singing, all-dancing follow-up is not only as good as its predecessor, it’s actually even better!
Featuring more ABBA songs than you can shake a stick at, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is an emotional and uplifting look at love, loss, and everything in between. The film acts as both a prequel and a sequel to what came before and is a sun-filled spectacular for the whole family!
Do The Right Thing (1989)
In Spike Lee’s socially and politically charged drama, Do The Right Thing, racial tensions reach breaking point in a once harmonious Brooklyn neighbourhood. Set on one of the hottest days of the year, the movie shows what happens when disagreements escalate, in a story that feels all too relevant today.
Summer of Sam (1999)
And now onto another Spike Lee-directed movie in the shape of the crime thriller, Summer of Sam. The film – which stars John Leguizamo, Adrien Brody, and Mira Sorvino – tells the real-life story of the Son of Sam serial murders which took place in The Bronx during the summer of 1977.
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
A year after they cover up a car accident which resulted in the death of an unnamed man, a group of teens find themselves stalked by a hook-wielding killer in teen horror movie, I Know What You Did Last Summer. Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, and Freddie Prinze Jr. star, while Jim Gillespie directs.
The Sandlot (1993)
Set during the 1960s, The Sandlot is a coming-of-age sports drama about a group of pre-teens who spend the summer playing baseball. During the course of the film the group become firm friends with newcomer, Scott Smalls, and get up to a spot of bother with a dog known as ‘The Beast’.
Delightful and funny, The Sandlot is a lovely movie perfect for the whole family. It offers a gentle look back at the past, when everything seemed so much simpler.
Days of the Bagnold Summer (2019)
Based on a graphic novel of the same name, Days of the Bagnold Summer is a British comedy-drama, about the relationship between a mother and her son. The film stars Monica Dolan and Earl Cave, with Simon Bird on director duties.
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (2021)
In 1969, while Woodstock was making headlines, more than 300,000 people in the US attended a less-publicised event. The event was a series of six summer concerts known as the Harlem Cultural Festival – a free to all, soul music extravaganza.
The docu-film, Summer of Soul showcases a wealth of footage from those concerts, including never before seen shots of some soul icons. Set against the backdrop of a very turbulent period in US history, Summer of Soul is both an important historical document, as well as a great slice of entertainment.
Falling Down (1993)
On a blisteringly hot day, former defence engineer, William Foster says ‘to Hell with everything’, abandons his car in the middle of a traffic jam, and proceeds to walk across Los Angeles on his way home. Along the way, Foster finds himself getting into a series of brutal and dangerous situations, as he meets a collection of people from all different walks of life.
Directed by Joel Schumacher, and loaded with social commentary, Falling Down stars Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, and Barbara Hershey. The film is a superb action-thriller which uses the summer heat as a metaphor for the anger and rage bubbling up inside Foster.
Directed by Ari Aster, and starring Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor, Midsommar is a slow-burning, mind-bending folk horror, about a group of twenty-somethings who travel to Sweden for the midsummer festival. But little do they know, their participation is a lot more mandatory than they believe, leading to a disturbing and terrifying outcome they may not survive.
Live is Life (2021)
Directed by Dani de la Torre, Live is Life is a Spanish coming-of-age drama about a group of friends who go on one last summer adventure before adulthood. Set to the backdrop of a gorgeous Spanish summer, the movie follows the young friends as they embark an important task which could cement their friendship forever.
Independence Day (1996)
In this bombastic ‘90s sci-fi blockbuster, it is the July 4th weekend and aliens arrive on Earth. Their intentions are far from good, leaving humanity to fight for its survival.
Roland Emmerich directs this stunning action epic, while Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Pullman star. The movie is loaded with huge scenes of spectacle and is a tour de force of effects wizardry.
Sticking with the theme of July 4th for this next movie, because it also takes place over the US holiday weekend, leads neatly onto Jaws! The Steven Spielberg horror-thriller, about a shark that terrorises the quiet coastal town of Amity Island, is a must-watch for any fan of summer movies.
Jaws is the original blockbuster and arguably one of Spielberg’s finest (alongside Jurassic Park). The movie is also a tense piece of cinema that keeps getting better with age.
The Way, Way Back (2013)
Directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, The Way, Way Back is a comedy-drama about an introverted teenage boy, who goes on a summer vacation with his mother and her boyfriend. Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell, and Liam Duncan lead the cast.
In Disney-Pixar’s Luca, a young sea monster leaves the safety of his underwater home to experience life above the shore. Here he meets a fellow monster, who becomes his best friend, as the pair explore the Italian town of Portorosso, and take part in a triathlon.
Hilarious, heartfelt, and truly gorgeous to look at, Luca is an exquisite animated movie, which is perfect for audiences of all ages. If you’re missing the summer sun, or you want a virtual trip to Italy, Luca is most certainly a movie to check out.
Jurassic Park (1993)
Arguably one of the best summer blockbusters of all-time, which deserves to be on every list of summer movies, is Jurassic Park. The action-adventure movie, released during summer ’93, tells the story of a dinosaur theme park that goes out of control.
Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum star. Steven Spielberg directs.
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Directed by Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name is a romantic drama about the relationship between a 17-year-old and a 24-year-old graduate student. Set during the 1980s, to the backdrop of a beautiful Italian summer, the movie looks at the highs and lows of a whirlwind romance.
The Inbetweeners Movie (2011)
Conceived as a spin-off of the popular British sitcom, The Inbetweeners, this feature-length movie follows the story of four teenagers as they go on holiday to Malia, following the final year of school. The movie – which stars Simon Bird, Joe Thomas, James Buckley, and Blake Harrison – is filled with endless gags and is a heck of a lot of fun.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)
Based on Ann Brashares’ novel of the same name, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a touching tale about four best friends who purchase a mysterious pair of pants. The film stars America Ferrera and Blake Lively, with Ken Kwapis in the director’s chair.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
In this nerve-wracking horror movie from Tobe Hooper, a group of teenagers fall victim to a family of cannibals, while out on a road trip. The most horrifying member of the family is Leatherface – a mute, hulking man, who wears a mask made of human skin.
Set in the blazing Texas heat, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a notoriously violent horror movie starring Marilyn Burns and Gunnar Hansen. It’s far removed from many of the films on this list, but it is a sizzling flick not to be missed.
Dirty Dancing (1987)
And finally, a movie which is one often regarded as one of the best romantic summer dramas of all-time. It could only be Dirty Dancing!
Set during the summer of 1963, Dirty Dancing tells the story of a young woman who falls in love with a dance instructor while on vacation with her parents. The film stars Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, has a fantastic soundtrack, and is as good as everyone says.
So, those are a run-through of all the summer movies. Now, to save you having to scroll back up, here is a list of all the best summer films in one place.
- Summer of ‘85 (2020)
- BMX Bandits (1983)
- Rear Window (2954)
- Summer of ’84 (2018)
- The Kings of Summer (2013)
- Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)
- Do The Right Thing (1989)
- Summer of Sam (1999)
- I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
- The Sandlot (1993)
- Days of the Bagnold Summer (2019)
- Summer of Soul (2021)
- Falling Down (1993)
- Midsommar (2019)
- Live is Life (2021)
- Independence Day (1996)
- Jaws (1975)
- The Way, Way Back (2013)
- Luca (2021)
- Jurassic Park (1993)
- Call Me By Your Name (2017)
- The Inbetweeners Movie (2011)
- The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)
- Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
- Dirty Dancing (1987)
Thank you for stopping by It’s A Stampede! to read this post about the best summer movies to stick on your watch list – I hope it has proved useful. For more informative posts, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.