Top 20 Best Summer Movies of All Time

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Stand By Me

When school is out, the weather is warm, and the sun stays up until nearly 9 o’clock at night, there are plenty of better ways to spend your time than watching television. But, of course, there’s nothing wrong with capping off a great day with a classic flick. Here are 20 summertime favorites.

20. Batman (1989)

Tim Burton’s Batman was the biggest blockbuster of the summer of ’89, and it completely revolutionized superhero movies. Until then, such films were campy, cheaply made, and generally overlooked. Now, large budgets, high-tech armor and suits, fantastic special effects, and big-name actors are standard fare for the superhero film genre.

19. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Four years before Batman hit the big screen, Burton directed this tale of a man-boy who travels from California to Texas in search of his custom bicycle. The film’s meta finale culminates with a viewing of a movie of the same name at that old-timey staple of summer, the drive-in theater.

18. Independence Day (1996)

If you like a ton of CGI explosions and Will Smith spitting out macho catchphrases while sucking on a stogie, this is the film for you. Surprisingly, a sequel is due out on July 1, 2016 — 20 years from the day that the original film was released.

17. Flight of The Navigator (1986)

Like Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Flight of the Navigator stars Paul Reubens, who provides the voice of the Trimaxion Drone Ship. And like Independence Day, it takes place on the Fourth of July, and there are lots of aliens. I guess you could say it’s the best of both worlds.

16. Back to the Future (1985)

Outside of the Theban plays, the Back to the Future films comprise history’s most famous trilogy commencing with an Oedipal relationship. But unlike Sophocles’ masterpiece, these movies are infinitely re-watchable.

15. The Goonies (1985)

It would be hard to find anyone who was a kid in the ’80s who didn’t dream of a being a Goonie. Fun fact: a “sequel,” The Goonies II, was created in 1987…in video game form.

14. Jurassic Park (1993)

Released in mid-June of 1993, Jurassic Park redefined summer blockbusters. Universal Pictures sunk a whopping $65 million into a worldwide advertising campaign, and then raked in nearly a billion dollars, shattering the box office record held since 1982 by E.T. Four and a half years later, Titanic would break the record set by Jurassic Park, but the movie is still heralded for its revolutionary special effects.

13. Jaws (1975)

Heading to the beach this summer? Don’t watch this movie first.

12. Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

An incredible ensemble cast featuring members of “The State” (Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, Ken Marino, and Joe Lo Truglio) plus Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Janeane Garofalo, Amy Poehler, David Hyde Pierce, Christopher Meloni, and many more star in this bizarre satirical comedy that takes place in August 1981 on the last day of summer camp. Supposedly, Netflix is developing a TV series based on the movie.

11. Meatballs (1979)

Predating Wet Hot American Summer by more than two decades, Meatballs set the bar for summer camp comedies. Though he was already well known as a cast member of “Saturday Night Live,” this film is Bill Murray‘s breakout movie role.

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