Weekend Roundtable: Favorite Movies About Summertime

I don’t know how things are where you live, but I am sick and tired of this goddamn winter. I have already shoveled approximately 8.6 metric tons of snow and another major storm is due to hit this weekend. I’ve had it. I’m done. I don’t want to think about snow anymore. I want to think happy thoughts about warm weather. Today’s Roundtable will focus on our favorite movies about fun in the sun during the summer season.

We’re joined this week by a new guest contributor, Chris Chiarella from Sound & Vision magazine.

Shannon Nutt

One of my favorite movies set in the tropics is the highly-underrated ‘The Mighty Quinn‘ from 1989. The movie stars a young Denzel Washington as the police chief of an unnamed small tropical island (the film was shot in Port Antonio, Jamaica) who has to track down his best friend (played by Robert Townsend) who is a suspect in a murder. Although the movie’s marketing (including its trailer) made it look like a comedy, the film is actually a pretty intense drama and one of my favorite roles from Denzel’s storied career. The tropical locale is essentially a character in and of itself. It adds a sense of both beauty and unfamiliarity to the proceedings. Sadly, the movie has not been made available on Blu-ray, nor do I see it currently listed on Netflix. However, it is available on DVD should any of you want to add a great film to your collection.

Luke Hickman

While everyone knows ‘Better Off Dead’, many people don’t know its unofficial sister film ‘One Crazy Summer‘. As a product of the 1980s, these two movies were beloved and much-watched titles in the Hickman household. Featuring a lot of the same cast members, a similar style of humor and wild daydream sequences, they’re a fantastic duo. In ‘One Crazy Summer’, John Cusack plays Hoops, a recent high school grad who’s sent to Nantucket for the summer. He and his little sister are to live with their aunt and uncle. Having done this every summer, Hoops has many friends there who are always excited for his return. During this particularly crazy summer, he gets mixed up with an arrogant wealthy local, falls for a girl with a bad rap (Demi Moore) and has to overcome his fears and weaknesses. It’s hilarious, fun and unforgettable. The only downside is that it’s still not available in HD.

Brian Hoss

Setting aside exotic forays like ‘Blood Diamond’, I have to go right to one great big extravaganza of surf, sun and ex-Presidents: ‘Point Break‘. Almost everything in the movie, from the cast (Anthony Kiedis!) to the dialogue (“You let ’em go!”) to the endless freefall sequences make up a treasure trove of fun action flick panache, but there’s more to it. Kathryn Bigelow & company captured something that almost transcends the action film trappings, and I think the key element is the summertime surf. For those enduring dire weather, watch ‘Point Break’ and dream of sleeping on the temperate beach.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

I have no idea how I wound up with ‘One Crazy Summer‘ on VHS when I was in elementary school, but the movie dug its hooks into me and still hasn’t let go. I mean, the movie opens with a browbeaten cartoon rhino whipping out a machine gun and mowing down a gaggle of bullying bunny rabbits. Sold! ‘One Crazy Summer’ delivers everything I never knew I needed in a comedy: Demi Moore as a folk singer type, a Ferrari being chopped down the middle, massive explosions, the most deservedly nightmarish looking bastards this side of that episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’ with the masks, and – why not? – Godzilla.

Forget holding a boombox over his head; this is the movie that springs to mind whenever I think of John Cusack. It’s my favorite slobs-versus-snobs comedy from the ’80s, and with a big chunk of the movie being set on Nantucket’s legendary beaches, it’s just the thing to defrost the housebound winter blahs.

Chris Chiarella (Sound & Vision)

The Blue Lagoon‘ always struck me as a nice place to swim/prance around naked/knock up Brooke Shields. Balmy breezes most of the year, plenty of free fruit and nary a flake of snow. Noisy neighbors, true, but they mostly keep to themselves.

Philip Brown

Whenever we reach this deathly cold period of winter, there’s one summer movie I’ll often find myself watching as a reminder of the concept of heat: Spike Lee’s ‘Do the Right Thing‘. Aside from being a masterpiece and still the most compelling and complicated film ever made about racial tension, ‘Do the Right Thing’ is a minor miracle of summer heat design. Hoping to evoke the sense of an uncomfortably sweltering summer day, Lee and his cinematographer Ernest Dickerson decided to experiment with color-coding. Almost every single piece of set design and costume is brightly colored in primary hues, and Dickerson lit it all for maximum color saturation. As a result, the screen glows with such powerful oranges, yellows and reds that I swear I feel heat radiating off of the screen whenever I watch the movie.

Though immediately jarring to the eyes (in a good way), there is also a subtlety to these techniques that sneaks up on you and makes a psychological impact. It’s a very flashy and clever summer shooting style that I don’t think has ever been topped. This is only one of many things to love about Spike Lee’s masterpiece, yet it’s often overlooked. It’s an amazing achievement, and I encourage anyone living in hermit mode right to pop the Blu-ray in your player immediately. It might not warm you up, but it will remind you that there’s such a temperature as “too hot.” Maybe that’ll help ease the pain.

Josh Zyber

When I think of the warm comfort of the tropical sun, the movies that come to mind for me are the early James Bond films, especially ‘Dr. No‘ and ‘Thunderball‘. Watching ‘Dr. No’ now, in particular, practically feels like a travelogue to the Jamaican filming locations, and like stepping back into a past from before I was even born. I could use a distraction like that about now. Perhaps I’ll crank up the heat in my home theater this weekend and fire that movie up, in between bouts of shoveling more snow.

What are your favorite movies about the temperate season? Tell us in the Comments.

Note: The site will be closed on Monday for the President’s Day holiday. We’ll be back with new posts on Tuesday.


  1. Dan

    Funny, Dr. No is the one movie that came to my mind. Even in the more subtle scenes, it just reminds me of warmer times. (Lick the crickets sounding off in the back ground). Jaws is not a bad place to start as well. One more, the Sandlot is an all time favorite summer movie!

  2. NJScorpio

    (1) Jaws – If you’ve lived in or near a beach resort town, the yearly flood of tourists with floppy hats and big sunglasses is a familiar tradition. Often, that road trip to the beach is the only Summer vacations these families take. ‘Jaws’ takes that family tradition and makes it exceptionally terrifying. One great touch is that visually the movie doesn’t just shift to dark, dreary, scary night time scenes. It’s still sunny, still a beautiful day for the beach. Just stay out of the water.

    (2) Die Hard: With a Vengeance – “Hot time, summer in the city….” BOOM! You can practically feel the combination of sweat, grime, and vehicle exhaust coating John McClane.

  3. Barsoom Bob

    I would offer up The Beach for warm and balmy. Danny Boyle, beautiful photographed azure beaches.

    Josh, William is right about Texas. I was a super in Manhattan and had the responsibility of removing the snow from all four sidewalks and corners of a City block for 30 years. Never wanted to deal with the stuff again, so I relocated to Austin when I retired. Apparently I picked the right time as the last two winters in the Northeast have been brutal. Sorry about that. The right tools can help a lot, you might want to consider a mid size snow blower for your home.

    We just had a week in the 80’s down here, people were swimming at Barton Springs and Deep Eddy pools. They don’t even know what real snow is here. They had a recent 3 page article in the Local newspaper, with a dozen accompanying pictures, of the big snow storm of ’85. I swear to you I don’t even think there was an inch of snow cover in the pictures. For someone who has been in the sh*t, that was pretty amusing to read. LOL

  4. EM

    John Carpenter’s The Thing: it takes place in the Antarctic winter, but that’s during the summer where I live!

    —And that was when EM was banned from the Bonus View for life.

    Um…actually, how about Stand by Me? A great coming-of-age drama at the end of summer vacation.

  5. And here I thought I’d be the only one to mention One Crazy Summer. It’s been over 20 years since I’ve watched it, but my brother, sister, and I used to watch it every time it was playing, I wonder how it would hold up today? Predator and Predator 2. In both movies, the characters look uncomfortably hot, with beads of sweat on their faces and sweaty armpit stains. We all know the predators are driven by heat and conflict, and the characters constantly bitch about how hot it is. The funny part is if I remeber correctly, Predator 2 came out around Christmas and in the special features of the first Predator, I think it was fall because I remember someone mentioning the leaves falling or having to paint the area green or something like that. Whatever the case, they both do a good job of making the movies look very hot and summery.

  6. Mike H

    Falling Down with Michael Douglas comes to mind if you want to really get the sense of a hot grimy day in Los Angeles. Basically any day over 90 in that town feels pretty accurate to that movie. Yes I live there. I second Predator 2 for another hot L.A. movie as well.

  7. Not exactly about “summer”, but when my wife gets the winter blues, she likes films about repressed English people busting loose in Mediterranean locations:

    Room With a View
    Enchanted April
    Much Ado About Nothing (Branagh)

    …are all suitable.


  8. Ross

    I am a very seasonal movie watcher. I tend to watch movies when they were released theatrically or on video. Saving Private Ryan was released in the summer so I always watch it in the summer. I remember the first time I saw the Good The Bad The Ugly and Bridge over the river on video was on an Easter Weekend so I always watch them then. I can’t just pick 1 so my all time fav 3 movies to watch in the summer are Mad Max, any of the first 4 Friday the 13th’s, and Dr.No.

  9. C.C. 95

    ANGEL HEART- New Orleans Sweltering.
    BODY HEAT- Southern hotness
    SMOKE- Brooklyn hot
    DOC HOLLYWOOD- wonderful summer tone
    INDIAN SUMMER- Summer camp!
    DEAD CALM- Sweltering suspense at sea
    GERRY- 2 guys basically slowing dying of heat stroke
    BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI- More Lean. More Duh.
    DEATH & THE MAIDEN- Sigourney hot & pissed off
    GHANDI- India is hot, man.

  10. The ultimate summer movie for me is the Coachella documentary. I used to go every year but don’t think I could handle it anymore (certainly can’t handle the price.) Every year when I get sick of Winter I throw that in and I’m transported back to 110 degree desert heat surrounded by sweaty hipsters. Good times.

  11. William Henley

    Unlike Josh, I have to keep reminding myself it is winter. It has been beautiful here. It has been dipping down into the 30s at night, but its been in the 60s, 70s and yesterday even got up to the lower 80s here. It was so pretty, we decided to go out and enjoy the day. The parks were packed, kids were wearing shorts, the zoo was packed because they just had a baby giraff (and the train from the zoo goes down into the park), people were out biking on the paths. My buddy and I walked 8 and a half miles yesterday along the trails. Sadly, today it is only getting up to 64 with showers, and tomorrow, 43 with showers.

    If you don’t believe me, here are live webcams of where we walked yesterday:

    But let’s get back on topic.

    Growing up, one of my favorites was Back to the Beach with Frankie and Anette. Looking back on this, it is no wonder that beach movies did not make a comeback when this movie was released in the 80s, but as a kid, I thought this was wonderful. Of course, I was a fan of the Micky Mouse Club too, and anything Annette I was crazy about.

    The Karate Kid also came to mind. The movie starts with them making that trek across the country, through the southwest. There is that great beach scene in it.

    Switching Goals with the Olsen Twins. Soccer movies just scream summer to me. So this brings to mind also Ladybugs with Rodney Dangerfield. This movie screams summer to me.

    This made me think of Camp Nowhere. Great summer camp movie!

    And that reminds me of Space Camp. Of course, you can go to Space Camp any time of year, but that’s a great movie.

    Back with Olsen Twins movies, and summer camp, It Takes Two is a great summer movie, and in my opinion, is one of the best Olsen Twins movies – mainly because it has a solid story (okay, It’s a The Parent Trap rehash) a great cast, and good directing. They actually got good acting out of the twins.

    Holiday in the Sun is yet another great Olsen Twins summer movie. Okay its a good Olsen Twins movie. Okay, its a movie with the Olsen Twins that takes place in the summer. Okay, maybe this movie should be burried in a landfill somewhere right next to the ET cartrages.

    Which brings to mind a new movie – the Angry Video Game Nerd movie. it takes place in the Southwest. Desert makes me think of warmth and summer.

    There are a couple of other movies that make me think of summer, but that is just because of when they take place, not with summer being the theme.

    The first one is Flight of the Navigator (takes place the Fourth of July weekend in 1978 and 1986) in Florida. David is oogling girls out in the water on a boat, and everyone is running around in shorts.

    Independance Day is another summer favorite of mine

    Breaking from movies I have an episode of a television show that I love to watch to remind me of summer, Full House, Season 3 episode 1, where the family takes a trip to Hawaii. I think I was 8 or 9 when that episode came on, and I had such a huge crush on Jodie Sweetin up until around the time I was 13.

    And there you have it, a list of good movies and bad movies and mediocore movies that remind me of summer.

  12. Mike

    National Lampoon’s Vacation was a movie I saw at the theaters and I have seen it countless times. Always reminds me of being on summer vacation and taking a trip with family.

  13. William Henley

    Just an FYI – its Beach Week on Travel Channel. Nothing says summer and warm weather quite like Beach travel shows!

  14. HelenB

    I second Stand By Me! Great movie about summer. And how about Breaking Away? Kids graduated from High School and trying to figure out what to do next. The Last Picture Show.

    And for TV mini series: Lonesome Dove is my vote. And of course LOST has tropical beach scenes. Planet Earth of course has beautiful scenery.

  15. merlich

    Body Heat.

    Practically makes me sweat thinking about that scene where William Hurt breaks the glass. Kathleen Turner sure was a hottie at the time.

    • What the fuck happened?! Imagine ‘ol Kathleen doing those scenes now. DOH!! She looks like a linebacker now. I remember movie critic Rex Reed use to sing praises of her beauty, I wonder what he thinks now. I do give her credit for aging like a normal person. I’ll take her the way she is now over those stretched out faces and bubble lips any day!

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