Skip to main content

The 25 best summer movies to watch at the beach... er, well, maybe not

15. Meatballs (1979)

The movie: Way before he embraced his sardonic side, Bill Murray played Tripper Harrison in Ivan Reitman's Canadian comedy. A counsellor at Camp North Star, Tripper is tasked with training all of the up-and-coming counsellors. He befriends depressed summer camp visitor Rudy (Chris Makepeace) and rallies the troops with his relentlessly positive attitude. 

Hottest moment: Rudy becomes the North Star Camps hero after beating rival Camp Mohawk in a cross-country race.

14. Friday the 13th (1980)

The movie: The camping movie that will make you re-think popping up your tent in the woods ever again. Camp Crystal Lake re-opens 20 years after a counsellor was murdered. Two decades ought to rid the place of bad juju right? Wrong. A whole new batch of teenagers hoping for a summer of saucy shenanigans are sliced and diced. 

Hottest moment: Jack (Kevin Bacon) and Marcie (Jeannine Taylor) have bunkhouse sex, unaware one of their buddies has had his throat slashed in the bed above them.

13. The Way Way Back (2013)

The movie: Wrapping together a great cast, tight script, likeable characters and plenty of genuinely funny moments, The Way, Way Back is the epitome of the perfect summer vacation. While on holiday at Cape Cod with his family 14-year old Duncan (Liam James) lands a job at the local water park and learns life lessons from the too-cool-for-school Owen (Sam Rockwell.)

Hottest moment: After realising he has to go home, Duncan abandons the car, runs to Water Whizz and leaps into the Devil's Peak ride to attempt what he's wanted all summer: to become the first person to ever pass someone else on the slide. He totally nails it.

12. Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead (1991)

The movie: Your mother decides she's off to Australia leaving you and your two siblings alone for the summer. Think of the freedom! That thought races through Sue Ellen (Christina Applegate)'s mind for a second until her mom introduces a cranky old babysitter. As the title suggests, she doesn't last long and it's up to Sue Ellen to find a job and keep the house running... 

Hottest moment: Sue Ellen enlists her brother and sister to help transform their house in order to hold a major fashion event. It's a summer montage!

11. Weekend at Bernie's (1989)

The movie: A couple of insurance salesman Larry (Andrew McCarthy) and Richard (Jonathan Silverman) refuse to give up the possibility of an epic party and from enjoying their boss Bernie's (Terry Kiser) beach house hospitality. Even after he's dead. Pratfalls and merriment ensue as they do whatever it takes to keep his body propped up. 

Hottest moment: Bernie might be going cold, but he sure knows how to throw a party. "You've never looked so relaxed!" one guest tells the corpse.

10. The Kings Of Summer (2013)

The movie: What would life be like if I left home and went to live with my best friends in a treehouse? Everyone thinks about it, but not everyone has the balls to do it. In this sweet, and spirited dramedy, two best pals (Gabriel Basso, Nick Robinson) find themselves sick of home and along with another schoolkid (Moises Arias) do just that. Living out the summer as carefree as possible? Sounds sweet.

Hottest moment: After making their first nature kill (a rabbit), the lads accidentally attract other creatures into their makeshift abode. Namely, a snake that's got it's sights set on human flesh.

9. Adventureland (2009)

The movie: Realising that life beyond college is a terrifying prospect when you've got no clue what to do, James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) chooses to backpack around Europe for inspiration. When his parents yank his funds, he can't afford the trip and has to get a job at Adventureland theme park instead. 

Hottest moment: Even after James gets a date with the park's resident hottie, Lisa P (Margarita Levieva), the best bit comes when he hangs out with Em (Kristen Stewart) and the pair watch the fireworks listening to Crowded House. 

8. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

The movie: Sidney Lumet's heist movie is based on a real story, borrowing its title from the idea of "dog days" being the hot, humid parts of summer. It follows the story of two bank robbers Sonny (Al Pacino) and Sal (John Cazale), who choose a muggy day in Brooklyn to carry out a plan, ensuring a decent crowd when it all goes horribly wrong. 

Hottest moment: Sonny gets the crowd going by taking the piss out of the polices notorious handling of the real-life Attica prison riot.

7. American Graffiti (1973)

The movie: Where were you in the summer of 1962? Most likely enjoying one last night riding around and chasing girls before leaving your small-town in California for the big, bad real world. This early flick from George Lucas was based on the director's own upbringing in Modesto, and takes place over the course of one summer night when everything seems possible.

Hottest moment: Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) shares a meaningful glance at a traffic light with The Blonde (Suzanne Somers) but then loses her in the traffic.

6. National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)

The movie:  Determined to have the best goddamn vacation ever, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) convinces his wife and kids that the best way to enjoy some quality family time isn't by relaxing at a resort. Nope, it's embarking on a cross-country road trip to visit the Walley World theme park. Along the way pretty much everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. 

Hottest moment: Clark finally loses it and breaks down, launching into a gigantic tirade about his quest for fun. Not one to do things by halves, he dubs his wife and two kids "fucked in the head." Aw, that's one way to amp up morale!

Gem is GR+'s west coast entertainment news reporter. She’s a bit obsessed with all things Aliens and Terminator.