Cinemaniac: Are you ready for summer?

At the time of its release in 1975, Jaws was the highest grossing film of all time. Courtesy photos
At the time of its release in 1975, Jaws was the highest grossing film of all time. Courtesy photos

By Desirae Martinez

Summer is the glorious time of year for college students to relax and have a good time. If you’re too busy lounging on the beach or backpacking through Europe, be sure to check out one of these summertime classics. Or, if you’re a broke college students who can’t afford to go anywhere, check them all out.


 

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

Chevy Chase stars as Clark Griswold, a desperate man trying to get his family across the country to Walley World. What ensues is a string of bad luck that includes getting lost, having their car vandalized, and losing a few family members along the way (Aunt Edna and her dog). After a road trip from hell, the family is disappointed to learn Walley World is closed for repairs. That doesn’t stop Clark from taking extreme measures to make sure his family has fun. What makes Vacation a great summertime film is it shows that sometimes it’s not about the journey but rather the destination.

Dirty Dancing (1987)

Jennifer Grey stars as “Baby,” the younger daughter of a conservative family. Always eager to help people, she agrees to take the place of a dancer in distress. The only problem is she can’t dance. After some rigorous lessons she learns to dance but develops feelings for her partner Johnny. In the grand finale, Johnny rescues Baby from the corner and stands up to his uptight boss. It’s the ultimate summer romance story complete with catchy dance numbers. After all, who wouldn’t want to be lifted overhead by Patrick Swayze to “(I’ve had) The Time of My Life?”

Adventureland (2009)

Most of us would like to spend our summers vacationing, but most of us will probably end up working. That’s what happens when James (Jesse Eisenberg) finds out his family can’t pay for him to go to grad school. After accepting a job at the local amusement park, James comes out of his shell and even finds himself in a love triangle. Things get a little sour for James as he blows his chance with both girls and all the money he saved up. But by the end of the summer, he makes everything right. Complete with awesome 80s tunes, Adventureland shows that even a summer of working can be fun.

500 Days of Summer (2009)

Okay, so this technically isn’t the “summer” the other movies refer to, but there still is a Summer in the film and she’s played to quirky perfection by the delightful Zooey Deschanel. Joseph Gordon-Levitt costars as Tom, a hopeless romantic in love with Summer, who tells him upfront she doesn’t believe in commitment. The film chronicles their relationship in a clever nonlinear order that draws comparisons to Annie Hall. But like the real season, Tom’s time with Summer is limited and the audience is left anticipating what happens on day 500.

 

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Let this one be a warning as to what NOT to do during your summer. Don’t do any reckless driving, don’t hit anyone while driving, and don’t try to dispose of said person that you hit. They will come back to seek revenge, they always do. Jennifer Love Hewitt stars as Julie, who along with three friends, covers up a hit and run, only to be stalked one year later by the person they thought they killed. The scares are a little dated, but it still makes for a good watch in a comedic kind of way.

Dazed and Confused (1993)

High school teens spend the start of their summer break driving around, getting stoned, and just talking about life in 1976. The different storylines in this movie range from freshmen boys avoiding the inevitable paddling ritual by the seniors, a few mean girl shenanigans, and a football star questioning his place on the team. The film features a 1970s classic soundtrack and great performances by Jason London, Parker Posey, Wiley Wiggins, and of course, Matthew McConaughey. All I can say to that is “alright, alright, alright.”

Stand by Me (1986)

This coming of age drama follows four boys who travel across the country side to find the dead body of a missing child. Along the way, they tackle obstacles like a train bridge, an angry junkyard owner and a leech-infested pond. More importantly, Stand by Me reminds audiences of the hard times of growing up and the importance of having friends during this time. To quote the last lines “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?”

Jaws (1975)

It’s every beach goer’s worst fear: enjoying a nice swim when all of a sudden something from below digs its teeth into you and pulls you under. Don’t let that discourage you from going swimming; you’re more likely to be killed by a cow than a shark. Still, this classic offers up some effective scares as well as heroic performances from Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss. Also, good luck with keeping John William’s score from getting under your skin.

American Graffiti (1973)

Set in the summer of 1962 (there seems to be a trend of setting summer movies in the past), American Graffiti follows several vignettes of a group of teenagers and the adventures they encounter in one night. There are breakups, makeups, and drag racing. Not to mention, a young Ron Howard and Harrison Ford. Whereas Dazed and Confused focused on a summer for high school students, American Graffiti focuses on the summer after you’re out of high school.

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