Four months of lazing around on the beach, patio drinks, and just generally taking in the great outdoors is almost here. Of course, not all of us are as adventurous as the people we follow on Instagram. So rather than of forcing yourself to hike up a steep path or go barreling down some dangerous waves, why not watch a highly paid actor do it instead?
With that in mind, the Fulcrum has come up with a list of the best summer movies to help you shake off the weight of this past semester—without subjecting yourself to a nasty sunburn.
Stand by Me (1986)
Most people tend to think that summer is all about fun and excitement. Then there are wet blankets like myself who believe that this time of year is better spent on quiet self-reflection.
Luckily, Rob Reiner’s classic coming-of-age drama Stand by Me caters to both audiences.
For such a simple story—where four childhood friends go on a hike to recover the corpse of a missing boy— this movie covers a lot of emotional ground. Not only does the 90-minute runtime expertly map out the joys of early adolescence, but it also shows how this childlike innocence can be twisted until it is completely unrecognizable.
Even if that sounds too depressing you shouldn’t shy away, as the film sprinkles in enough childish profanity, campfire stories, and wilderness exploration to make the heavy themes more palatable.
Now, in the wrong hands these dueling tones would result in a film that feels totally schizophrenic. But thanks to Reiner’s sharp direction and relatable performances from the four main leads (including a young Wil Wheaton), these whimsical and melancholic elements work in perfect unison.
And since this story takes place throughout Labour Day weekend, Stand by Me is the perfect film to help you live out the very last bit of summer before you return to school.
Point Break (1991)
Point Break, not to be confused with the 2015 remake, is a cult thriller that puts extreme sports and crime dramas into a box and wraps it with an early 90s bow.
The film’s plot revolves around a gang of bank robbers that have gone on a crime spree, knocking over 27 banks in three years.
The FBI have reason to believe that the gang members may actually be surfers, and assign rookie agent Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) to go undercover. Sure the plot is ridiculous, but it seems like the filmmakers know it. At one point Johnny even asks, “you’re sayin’ the FBI’s gonna pay me to learn to surf?”
While undercover, Johnny befriends Bodhi (Patrick Swayze), a prominent surfer with a questionable income source, and things get morally complicated from there.
Released in July 1991, Point Break is very much the ideal summer action thriller, with a good mix of gorgeous beach shots and tense action sequences.
While it may be corny by today’s standards, it’s still full of memorable moments.
The emotional chase scene where Johnny empties his gun in the air rather than use it to stop Bodhi is particularly noteworthy. In fact, this scene is even satirized in Hot Fuzz 16 years later to hilarious effect.
Point Break may not have received critical acclaim when it was released, and suffers from some stiff acting, but that doesn’t really matter because it knows what it wants to be: A summer popcorn flick that’ll make you want to learn how to surf.
Preferably, on the American taxpayers’ dime.
The Avengers (2012)
We’ve all been there. The “what to watch next?” phase of Netflix binge-watching.
You can always fire up your laptop and type “classic summer movies” into Google, which gets you typical search results like Grease and Mamma Mia. If you keep scrolling you’ll go past the comedy section (everyone loves comedy right?) where Wet Hot American Summer or National Lampoon’s Vacation take up residence. Even though these are all great entertainment, something’s still missing.
However, there is one movie that offers everything. From intense action, to comic relief, to heartwarming moments, The Avengers can satisfy everyone’s taste.
Besides, it’s hard to say “no” to these characters that we’ve come to know over the years.
Who doesn’t love Robert Downey Jr.’s particular brand of sarcasm, and how it contrasts with Chris Evans’ straight laced Captain America? And how can we not ship Hawkeye and Black Widow together?
Plus the first Avengers movie does the impossible and manages to juggle a variety of genres that appeal to a wide variety of people.
So, make sure to add this blockbuster to your list of summer movies because, let’s be real here, there will be more than one.