The Ultimate Summer Movie Bucket List
Beat the heat with our favorite summer flicks.
Updated Jun 22, 2018 9:32 PM
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Maybe it’s the warmer weather, but something about summer and watching rom-coms just feels right. Whether you’re escaping the heat with an old classic or lounging outside for an outdoor movie fest, there are certain films that just seem to capture the spirit of summer. Get away from the hustle and bustle of real life for a bit: These movies transport us to different states, countries, and even time periods. Filled with love, friendship, and oh so summery vibes, these are the ones you can get away with watching over and over again. (If you know every line of The Noteboo, we won’t tell anyone.)
The adorable tale of adolescence and true friendship may have just celebrated 25 years since its premiere, but the themes and humor are still just as relatable today. Watch as new kid in town Scottie Smalls befriends the kiddos who play baseball at the sandlot, and all the adventure that follows.
This coming-of-age film follows a young high schooler who’s looking to make a splash in the world of rock and roll. Funny and touching, it has all the makings of a solid summer movie.
The Parent Trap
Long-lost twin sisters reconnect, and hilarity ensues as they become acquainted with the lives they could’ve had.
Take one part Rachel McAdams and add one part Ryan Gosling and a liberal dose of passionate, storm-drenched lip locks. Prepare to feel all the feels all over again.
Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg’s sweet, slightly complicated romance develops against the backdrop of a shabby amusement park in the ’80s. It will make you nostalgic for that first summer after college, and also make you want one of those t-shirts.
Forgetting Sarah Marhsall
Dumped by his girlfriend (played by Kristen Bell) a heartbroken Jason Segal takes a restorative vacation to Oahu, only to find her there with new boyfriend Russell Brand. Don’t worry, though: Mila Kunis helps him get over her.
Shakespeare in Love
In this (purely fictional) story about Shakespeare’s inspiration for Romeo and Juliet, Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes prove that modern love’s got nothing on the 16th-century English version. It’s a great flick for a rainy night when Shakespeare in the Park gets cancelled.
How Stella Got Her Groove Back
Angela Bassett meets half her age hottie Taye Diggs in Jamaica, gains back all her lost confidence (wouldn’t you?), and reminds the world that May-December romances can go both ways.
Two gorgeous strangers (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) meet on a train and spend one romantic June night wandering the streets of Vienna. It’s how you wish your study abroad trip had ended.
Prepare yourself for this summer’s family vacation by watching Jennifer Grey cope with hers at a woodsy Catskills resort. She carries a watermelon, rehearses a steamy dance number with Patrick Swayze, and together, they nail the finale’s iconic lift. After this, nobody puts baby in the corner again.
The Spanish Steps, the Mouth of Truth, a carefree ride on a Vespa—Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck share history’s most charming, perfect day in the Eternal City.
Larenz Tate spends the summer of 1976 on Martha’s Vineyard with all the classic elements: beach bonfires, a Fourth of July party, and a beautiful, bikini-clad love interest played by a teenaged Jada Pinkett Smith.
West Side Story
Inspired by Shakespeare’s original star-crossed lovers, Maria and Tony fall in love amidst a turf war between two rival gangs, the Sharks and Jets. A fire escape is the ’50s New York City version of Romeo and Juliet’s balcony, but the conclusion is just as ill-fated.
Set on a fictional New England island, 12-year-olds Sam and Suzy run away together—he from wilderness camp, she from her family’s home (called “Summer’s End”)—and set up house in the woods. The infinitely charming characters and lush setting make this one of our very favorite coming-of-age films.
500 Days of Summer
Not technically set in the season, the film’s title refers to Zooey Deschanel’s character, Summer, and the span of her relationship with the loveable Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Spoiler alert: It may not be a happy ending for the couple, but their chemistry makes it fun to watch.
We dare you to re-watch this classic ’80s romance and not daydream of Lloyd Dobler, boom-box raised high above his head, blasting Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes right outside your bedroom window.
Dazed and Confused
In ’70s Austin, Texas, the last day of school calls for some freshman hazing, epic rock music, and a beer-soaked keg party. Look out for shaggy-haired Matthew McConaughey and Ben Affleck.
Along Came Polly
Risk-averse Ben Stiller falls for adventurous, free-spirited Jennifer Aniston. Side note: Watch for Philip Seymour Hoffman as Stiller’s best friend and dubious advice-giver in an underrated gem of a performance.
This post was originally published on May 28, 2017. It has been updated with new information.