Ahhhh, summer – sun, sea, ice cream, barbecues, festivals, there’s no time of year quite like it. And what better to do throughout the most glorious time of year than sit inside and watch a ton of films. Jokes aside, everyone has that one film they associate with the summer season, and our writers have put together their top picks.
Scooby-Doo, dir. by Raja Gosnell
For some people, any mention of the first live-action Scooby-Doo movie is enough to trigger hatred and an association with the word ‘trash’. However, for a movie about the mystery gang who go on a sunny vacation to a popular resort called ‘Spooky Island’ where a mystery needs to be solved and was released in June 2002, it ticks all the right boxes for a fun summer movie that the whole family can watch. The script by Marvel protege-to-be James Gunn is packed with gags ranging from slapstick to lost-in-translation that all ages can laugh at: Scooby’s misunderstanding of the word ‘sacrifice’ and the mismatch of identities are personal highlights. The mystery gang are all incredibly likeable and charismatic, especially Matthew Lillard’s Shaggy which is remarkably uncanny to the original voice of Casey Kasem, and although the film has plenty of flaws (including some questionable female representation) which wouldn’t be enough to fill Scooby and Shaggy’s appetites, its tightly fast paced plot, vibrant mise-en-scene and bristling energy is enough to warrant repeat viewings for scorching summer afternoons.
The Inbetweeners Movie, dir. by Ben Palmer
Following on from the legacy set by the Channel 4 show, The Inbetweeners Movie brings us the raunchy lads holiday we could only expect from Will, Simon, Jay and Neil. Set on the wonderful greek island of Crete, the boys experience all the local culture they can, with trips to the beach, an excursion on a yacht and viewing the local “talent”. It’s not all booze and boobs as there’s some wholesome moments, with many life lessons to be learnt from it, such as how to dance in a club, or that a bidet is not just a kids toilet. It’s dirty, it’s dumb, it’s hilarious. It’s basically just a special episode of such a classic series that was so good they decided to show it in the cinema instead of on TV. It radiates feel good summer vibes and just warms you up inside while you cringe and laugh at the boy’s hilarious antics.
The Beach, dir. by Danny Boyle
Back in 2000, Danny Boyle’s cult escapist treasure The Beach met the brave turn of the new millennium with bleeding seas and the scolding Thai sunlight. Adapted from the sand gritted pages of Alex Garland’s debut novel, The Beach follows Leonardo DiCaprio’s lonely soul Richard who ventures into the unknown to discover a mythical untouched lagoon lost in the gulf of Thailand; a pilgrimage of pleasure which radiates a beauty and tropical heat that blisters. Though a cautionary tale of our pursuit of desire, westernisation of Eastern land, and the decaying effects of tourist culture, there is an inevitable blind rapture in the film’s indulgence in the untouched wonder of its paradise. It is hard to feel the heat of the summer sun and not wonder where else more beautiful it might be shining, and there is no place more beautiful than here. The Beach offers a complete paradise which, even when that paradise collapses, still presents the dream that it may somewhere exist. It is a celluloid sun stroke that practically opens up the world to be experienced. All that there is left to ask is can you hear what I hear? It’s calling you, my dear, out of reach… take me to The Beach.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, dir. by John Hughes
While it’s not everyone’s first thoughts when asked about a typical “summer movie”, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is lovable and witty, and what everyone would want to do in a day (if they could get away bunking off school or work). The movie works its sibling rivalry into its dynamic plot and constantly plays with how the ‘hero’ manages to get away with his day off; at some point, every sibling has been either Jeanie or Ferris, but we’d stand by our sibling to the end. The movie didn’t just affect those in the summer of 1986, with the infamous end credits scene parodied in the closing credits of 2016 movie Deadpool. The reaches of Ferris Bueller go a lot further than the screen – it’s like Ferris is giving the audience their own trip around Chicago, and at one point, we’ve all wanted to have a day off with as much excitement.
Moana, dir. by Ron Clements and John Musker
Moana’s vibrancy of colour is only matched by its vibrancy of spirit, making it perfect summer viewing for when the sun isn’t shining on the wide watery blue. The 2016 Disney creation of the ocean is something to behold, and to treasure, sorely needed in this age of rampant marine pollution. The animation is luscious, its Polynesian setting and culture treated with a deep respect through an engrossing mythology and songs that speak to the soul. Joyful and uplifting, Moana introduced the world to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s singing voice with ‘You’re Welcome’ – penned by none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda. Johnson’s demigod Maui is the comic relief but newcomer Auli’i Cravalho is the heart as the titular protagonist. It offers up the usual Disney messages of endeavour and empowerment, but in a manner we had not yet seen represented in a studio film of this scale.
The Way Way Back, dir. by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash
Light-Hearted, Down to earth and just the right amount of fun, The Way, Way Back is a summer comedy/coming of age story that follows 14 year-old Duncan on his summer holiday with his mum and her douche-bag boyfriend (played by Steve Carrell, who does an excellent job as the bad guy), and his journey of self discovery when he befriends the manager of the local water park (Sam Rockwell on top form). The film captures the awkwardness of teenage summers, attempting to assert your independence and have fun whilst still having to be home for dinner every evening. If you’re looking for a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but will have you laughing and crying, then this is the film for you.
Moonrise Kingdom, dir. by Wes Anderson
Set in 1965, Moonrise Kingdom is an eccentric love story between two misfit youngsters, Sam and Suzy, who choose to run away together in a declaration of their affection. With the reminiscence of a Stand by Me adventure, their status as missing children has the local authorities searching for their whereabouts, encapsulating the parallels between the naïve fantasy of youth with the disheartening realities of adulthood.
Wes Anderson never falls short of injecting his pictures with his archetypal concoction of nostalgia, wit and oddities, which is precisely why this film holds such a special place in my heart. Although mise-en-scene has always played a fundamental role in Anderson’s work, this film especially utilises the scenic imagery of windswept beaches and serene meadows to invoke a summer love affair with its audience. This, in concurrence with its pure depiction of outdoor play, will make you want to return to a world of hand drawn maps and bike rides. Moonrise Kingdom is a profound homage to the summer of our childhood.