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The 13 Best Summer Movies of All Time

I can almost hear the sound of the ocean!

No matter what, summer 2021 is going to look a little different from how we dreamed it. We’ll have to wave goodbye to exotic international trips and blissful weekend getaways—but who said we can’t make our minds travel? And watching classic summer movies might just be the best way to briefly escape reality and relax (while staying safe at home, to boot). To help you get into a carefree, summer-y mood, we put together a list of the best summer movies to watch now. Can't you just hear the sound of the ocean?


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Two high schoolers (Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein) have spent their entire lives aiming to get into top-notch schools. Then, the day before graduation, they realize that all the kids who partied also got into top-notch schools, and they resolve to have all the fun they missed in one night. This is the coming-of-age, Fast Times at Ridgemont High but for the modern generation comedy of errors that'll get you in the mood to party like you're 18 again (but, you know, with fewer repercussions!).


'Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar'

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Put on those culottes and watch the silliest summer movie to ever hit your tv screen. Real-life besties Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo play Star and Barb, two BFFs who live together and decide to take the trip of a lifetime to...you guessed it, Vista Del Mar. Ridiculous (and we mean ridiculous) shenanigans ensue. You kind of just have to go with it, but it's a perfect parody movie about two middle-age women who go on a vacation that becomes a sweet and earnest movie about two middle-age women who go on a vacation.


'Y Tu Mama Tambien'

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Two boys go on a summer road trip with a mysterious and beautiful older woman. Not only is this a gorgeous, beach-filled tour through rural Mexico, it's also a story of love and sexual awakening. Featuring a super-young Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna, it's considered an intelligent and sexy classic that's also honest and refreshing. Did we mention the beaches and summer flings?


'Call Me by Your Name'

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Set in Lombardy, Italy during the summer of 1983, Call Me by Your Name is a coming-of-age movie about the romantic relationship between the 17-year-old Elio, portrayed by Timothée Chalamet, and Oliver (Armie Hammer), the 24-year-old doctoral assistant to Elio’s father. Featuring complicated dynamics of love and drama, the film is a whirlwind of emotions, and brings complex and intimate feelings to the surface.


'Little Miss Sunshine'

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The Hoover family isn’t your typical family. The dysfunctional familiar group (featuring Steve Carell as the uncle) is set to hop on a Volkswagen bus and travel to California, where they’re to support a daughter (Abigail Breslin) while she competes to win the Little Miss Sunshine Contest. With problems along the way and complex relationships between the characters, the film is a bittersweet comedy that's well worth watching.


'The Notebook'

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Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams are the stars of this romantic drama. Set in the 1940s in South Carolina, the film sees mill worker Noah Calhoun and rich girl Allie fall helplessly in love. But when Noah leaves to fight in World War II, their relationship has to end. During Noah’s absence, Allie gets involved with another man, and accepts to marry him. But when Noah comes back right before Allie’s marriage, their passion lights up again and the mutual feelings of love become stronger than anything. With its rollercoaster of emotions, the film will surely get to your heart.


'Something’s Gotta Give'

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Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson) is a womanizer, but, alas, he’s getting older. He and his young girlfriend Marin decide to spend their weekend getaway at her family’s beach house, but when they get there, they realize that Marin’s mother Erica Barry (Diane Keaton) is planning to do the same. After a sudden heart attack, Harry is confined to rest in bed at the beach house, and starts seeing Erica in a new light.


'Mamma Mia!'

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Here we go again! Even if you’ve already seen this movie (which you definitely have), it’s always a good time to re-watch it—especially if you’re in the mood for all-things summer! Sophie, portrayed by Amanda Seyfried, is about to get married in Greece, where her mom Donna (Meryl Streep) is a hotelier, but Sophie can’t stand the idea of walking down the aisle alone. In the hopes of finding out who her father is, Sophie secretly invites to her wedding three men from Donna’s younger years—will her plan work?


'Independence Day'

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On the 4th of July, the United States doesn't have any time for celebrations: The aliens are here, and they want to annihilate the human race and take over control. If you’re craving some sci-fi thriller, follow Will Smith and his group in an incredible effort to save the world from the invasion—you won’t be disappointed.


'500 Days of Summer'

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When Summer (Zooey Deschanel) suddenly breaks up with Tom, his heart is completely broken. In an effort to figure out what went wrong and led them to break up, Tom thinks back to his relationship with Summer and the 500 days spent with her. Ultimately, he comes to rediscover himself in a new light.


'The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants'

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For the first time in forever, four best friends, Bridget, Carmen, Lena and Tibby are going separate ways for the summer. To keep their friendship alive, they decide to take turns and share a pair of jeans, which incredibly fits everyone. If their emotional connection was already strong, the jeans end up making it even stronger. Based on Ann Brashares' novel of the same name, the movie explores real friendship and strong girl characters.



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James Brennan, a recent college grad, can’t wait to leave for his trip to Europe, which he has been planning and dreaming of for months. Yet, his enthusiasm quickly dampens when his parents inform him that they can’t financially support his trip. Sad and frustrated, James starts working at the local amusement park, but his happiness is restored when he falls in love with his colleague Em, portrayed by Kristen Stewart. Sweet and intelligent, Adventureland is a romantic feel-good movie you can’t miss.


'Dirty Dancing'

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The classics never get old. Dirty Dancing is a charming love story between Baby, who’s bound to spend the summer with her parents at a Catskills resort, and Johnny, the resort’s dance instructor and Baby’s new dance partner. Even though Baby’s father is against their relationship, Baby is committed to help Johnny perform the last important dance of the summer. Romantic but also fun, Dirty Dancing will definitely keep your eyes glued to the screen.


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