The 33 Best Summer Movies To Add to Your Watchlist

bestmovies jun27 mobile
Paramount Pictures / A24

With the summer solstice behind us, the most divisive season of the year is in full swing. Divisive I say? Well, only because some people prefer not to be absolutely scorched by the sun for three months out of the year. But for the rest of you who adore it, these are 33 of the best summer movies to give a watch before September 22 comes around.

1. 'Wet Hot American Summer' (2001)

Who's in it: Janeane Garofalo, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon, Christopher Meloni, Michael Showalter, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks

Rating: 37% (Rotten Tomatoes)

Run Time: 1h 37m

Total Box Office: $295, 206

A satirical take on the last day of summer for a group of camp counselors, Wet Hot American Summer has gained a massive cult following in the years since its release.

Watch on Prime Video

2. 'Jaws' (1975)

Who's in it: Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Lorraine Gray

Rating: 98%

Run Time: 2h 4m

Total Box Office: $472 million

For me, Jaws is a winter movie—I'm not going anywhere near a film about a man-eating shark during the months where I'm most likely going into the ocean.

Watch on Prime Video

3. 'The Sandlot' (1993)

Who's in it: Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar, Patrick Renna, Chauncey Leopardi

Rating: 64%

Run Time: 1h 41m

Total Box Office: $34.3 million

Baseball and summer go hand-in-hand; throw in a group of misfit kids and a massive dog and you've got an instant summer hit. But a 64% on Rotten Tomatoes? Really? Don't even pay attention to that.

Watch on Disney+

4. 'Top Gun' (1986)

Who's in it: Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Meg Ryan

Rating: 58%

Run Time: 1h 50m

Total Box Office: $357.3 million

We're hot off the presses from Top Gun: Maverick, which means we've got to throw it back to 1986 with the original Top Gun. Okay, maybe it isn't a summer movie in the classical sense, but it's got some beach volleyball and it takes place in California—major beach vibes.

Watch on Paramount+

5. 'Dirty Dancing' (1987)

Who's in it: Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze

Rating: 69%

Run Time: 1h 37m

Total Box Office: 214.6 million

The summer movie of all summer movies. Dirty Dancing is the icon, crossing off just about every box that any teenager needs for the perfect seasonal flick. It's got defying parents, music, dancing, love, is set on a lake, and has Jennifer Grey doing her iconic dance by the dock—what else could you need?

Watch on Prime Video

6. '500 Days of Summer' (2009)

Who's in it: Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Rating: 86%

Run Time: 1h 35m

Total Box Office: $60.7 million

After Tom's (Gordon-Levitt) girlfriend, Summer (Deschanel), breaks up with him, he goes through each of their 500 days together to try and figure out just what went wrong. Basically, it's one major nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Watch on Paramount+

7. 'Almost Famous' (2000)

Who's in it: Kate Hudson, Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand

Rating: 89%

Run Time: 2h 2m

Total Box Office: $47.4 million

Sure, part of Almost Famous takes place during the tail end of the school year, but time is basically just an illusion when you're a kid on tour with one of the biggest bands in the country. This film's got summer written all over it; and if that's not enough, Kate Hudson in her role as Penny Lane is a ray of sunshine personified.

Watch on Hulu

8. 'Mamma Mia!' (2008)

Who's in it: Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård

Rating: 55%

Run Time: 1h 48m

Total Box Office: $611.3 million

I don't care if you think that this movie is dumb, overrated, obnoxious, or that it deserves its 55% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (it doesn't): Mamma Mia! is one of the greatest summer films of all time.

Watch on Prime Video

9. 'Mystic Pizza' (1988)

Who's in it: Julia Roberts

Rating: 77%

Run Time: 1h 44m

Total Box Office: $14 million

In her breakthrough role, Julia Roberts plays Daisy Arujo, who works at the local pizzeria in Mystic, Connecticut for the summer after she graduates high school. Alongside her at the pizzeria are her sister, Kat, and their friend, Jojo, who are each going through their own post-high school growing pains.

Watch on Prime Video

10. 'The Parent Trap' (1998)

Who's in it: Lindsay Lohan, Natasha Richardson, Dennis Quaid

Rating: 86%

Run Time: 2h 8m

Total Box Office: $92.1 million

We've got summer camp, taking a holiday in London, traversing a vineyard on horseback, and a camping trip that starts with someone coughing up a lizard and ends with someone stranded in the middle of a lake. Oh, and there's a little switcheroo in between all of that. The Parent Trap has literally everything you could ever want in a film—it's why I've genuinely watched it around a hundred times since the age of seven.

You should, too.

Watch on Disney+

11. 'Dazed and Confused' (1993)

Who's in it: Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey, Jason London, Ben Affleck

Rating: 92%

Run Time: 1h 35m

Total Box Office: $8 million

For a film that wasn't super successful at the time of its release, Dazed and Confused has quite the cult following today; it's similar to Wet Hot American Summer in that both had casts comprised of young actors who would later turn out to be major stars on the acting scene. Dazed and Confused follows a slew of teenagers on the last day of school in late-1970s Texas.

Watch on Hulu

12. 'The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie' (2004)

Who's in it: Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Stephen Hillenburg

Rating: 68%

Run Time: 1h 27m

Total Box Office: $141.1 million

Many have labeled this film as being the last great episode (movie) of SpongeBob SquarePants—everything after this kind of sucks. And the thing is, it's completely true. The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie tracks SpongeBob and Patrick as they attempt to find King Neptune's crown after Mr. Krabs is accused of stealing it.

Watch on Paramount+

13. 'Call Me By Your Name' (2017)

Who's in it: Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer

Rating: 94%

Run Time: 2h 10m

Total Box Office: $41.9 million

Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer take on the roles of two young men who develop a strong bond and relationship during the summer of 1983 in Italy. The two meet as Elio's (Chalamet) father is a professor who has invited his student, Oliver (Hammer), to stay with them that summer.

Watch on Prime Video

14. 'Something's Gotta Give' (2003)

Who's in it: Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Keanu Reeves, Frances McDormand, Amanda Peet

Rating: 72%

Run Time: 2h 8m

Total Box Office: $266.7 million

Quite possibly the spark that created the "coastal grandmother" style aesthetic, Something's Gotta Give pairs up Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson as Erica and Harry, who develop a close bond after Harry suffers a heart attack at her house. It's an unlikely pair, as Harry had actually been dating Erica's much younger daughter and is known as an infamous bachelor in New York City.

Watch on Netflix

15. 'Thelma and Louise' (1991)

Who's in it: Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis

Rating: 85%

Run Time: 2h 10m

Total Box Office: $45.4 million

Nothing screams summer like a road trip—especially an impromptu one that begins after one friend kills a man in a parking lot. Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon are the fearless Thelma and Louise, two friends on the run from the law who encounter quite a bit of trouble on their way out of the country.

Watch on HBO Max

16. 'Stand By Me' (1986)

Who's in it: River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell

Rating: 91%

Run Time: 1h 29m

Total Box Office: $52.3 million

Based on Stephen King's The Body, Stand By Me takes place during Labor Day weekend in 1959 when four boys go hiking and end up finding the dead body of a child who had recently gone missing. An absolute staple of the coming-of-age genre, Stand By Me has become quite the beloved film over the years.

Watch on Netflix

17. 'Grease' (1978)

Who's in it: Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta, Stockard Channing

Rating: 76%

Run Time: 1h 50m

Total Box Office: $366.2 million

Only the tail end of Grease takes place after school lets out, but there's an undeniable air of summer in the film that just can't be overlooked. Also, it wasn't until literally writing this that I realized Grease takes place over an entire year—someone make that make sense to me.

Watch on Prime Video

18. 'Midsommar' (2019)

Who's in it: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Will Poulter

Rating: 83%

Run Time: 2h 51m

Total Box Office: $48 million

Maybe it's not the most comforting summer movie to watch, but Midsommar delivers in basically every other way possible. Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor play a couple who travels to Sweden for a midsummer festival, though things take a turn for the worst when it turns out to be a cult.

Watch on Hulu

19. 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' (1997)

Who's in it: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr.

Rating: 43%

Run Time: 1h 39m

Total Box Office: $125.3 million

Definitely a dark summer flick, I Know What You Did Last Summer is a classic slasher film about a group of friends who are harboring a year-long secret: they killed a man in a car accident the summer prior to this one. In the present day, that very same group is stalked by a killer with a hook for an arm.

Watch on HBO Max

20. 'Adventureland' (2009)

Who's in it: Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Ryan Reynolds

Rating: 89%

Run Time: 1h 47m

Total Box Office: $17.2 million

This dramedy is centered around an amusement park back in the summer of 1987 and follows James Brennan (Eisenberg), who's forced to work at Adventureland because of his financial situation after graduating from college. He meets Emily Lewin (Stewart) there, where they're able to develop a close bond, though a love triangle starts to form, leaving Brennan on the outside of things.

Watch on Hulu

21. 'We're the Millers' (2013)

Who's in it: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter

Rating: 49%

Run Time: 1h 50m

Total Box Office: $270 million

Based on the previews alone, We're the Millers seemed like the type of movie that was just bound to be terrible, but after actually watching it, I can firmly say that it's deserving of a way higher rating than the measly 49% that Rotten Tomatoes has given it. The plot of the movie centers around David (Sudeikis), a local pot dealer who finds himself on his way to Mexico with his fake family in order to repay a debt he owes to his boss.

Watch on Hulu

22. 'American Graffiti' (1973)

Who's in it: Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Candy Clark, Charles Martin Smith

Rating: 96%

Run Time: 1h 50m

Total Box Office: $140 million

Before George Lucas had Star Wars, he had American Graffiti. Set during the course of a single night, the film tracks a group of California teenagers involved in the rock culture of the 1960s.

Watch on Hulu

23. 'Spider-Man: Far From Home' (2019)

Who's in it: Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Samuel L. Jackson

Rating: 90%

Run Time: 2h 10m

Total Box Office: $1.132 billion

Set during Peter Parker's (Holland) high school summer field trip to Venice, Italy, an elemental water creature appears, though a new superhero is able to stop it from causing any further destruction: Mysterio (Gyllenhaal). Parker and Mysterio work together while abroad in Europe to defeat various elementals, though it's later revealed that Mysterio is no superhero at all.

Watch on Prime Video

24. 'Little Miss Sunshine' (2006)

Who's in it: Abigail Breslin, Paul Dano, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin

Rating: 91%

Run Time: 1h 41m

Total Box Office: $101 million

Abigail Breslin plays Olive Hoover, a child who's set on competing in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant way out in California. The only problem? She and her entire family live in New Mexico, meaning that the whole lot of them will have to pack up their bags and trek to Redondo Beach in their Volkswagen bus.

Watch on Hulu

25. 'Girls Trip' (2017)

Who's in it: Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith

Rating: 92%

Run Time: 2h 2m

Total Box Office: $140.9 million

Four friends take a girls' trip to New Orleans after one of them is invited to speak at Essence Music Festival there, reuniting the group years after they graduated from college together.

Watch on Prime Video

26. 'Skate Kitchen' (2018)

Who's in it: Rachelle Vinberg, Nina Moran, Dede Lovelace, Ajani Russell, Moonbear, Jaden Smith

Rating: 90%

Run Time: 1h 46m

Total Box Office: $268,021

All skaters in real life, the cast takes on a fictionalized version of their lives in Skate Kitchen, which follows a group of female skaters—focusing especially on Camille (Vinberg), whose life majorly changes after she first meets this group of skateboarders in New York City.

Watch on Tubi

27. 'Wine Country' (2019)

Who's in it: Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell, Emily Spivey

Rating: 66%

Run Time: 1h 43m

Total Box Office: N/A (Released on Netflix)

Alright, this movie isn't perfect, but it's definitely a great summer pick if you're just looking to laugh and enjoy this insanely stacked cast. Basically, Wine Country is exactly what it sounds like: it's a group of women who travel to Napa Valley for a wine-filled weekend.

Watch on Netflix

28. 'Do the Right Thing' (1989)

Who's in it: Spike Lee, Danny Aiello, Rosie Perez, John Turturro

Rating: 92%

Run Time: 2h

Total Box Office: $37.3 million

Taking place in Brooklyn, Do the Right Thing quickly transforms from a story about a pizzeria to one about neighborhood racism when a local pizza joint only puts up Italian actors on its wall of fame instead of the black community it's sitting in.

Watch on Prime Video

29. 'Meatballs' (1979)

Who's in it: Bill Murray, Harvey Atkin, Kate Lynch, Russ Banham

Rating: 72%

Run Time: 1h 32m

Total Box Office: $70 million

Bill Murray takes on his first lead role in Meatballs, a comedy about camp counselors-in-training at a summer camp in Ontario, Canada. The film puts a major focus on the various jokes and pranks carried out through the campgrounds, as well as spotlighting some of the local campers and their rivalries.

Watch on Tubi

30. 'West Side Story' (2021)

Who's in it: Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, Rita Moreno, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Ansel Elgort

Rating: 91%

Run Time: 2h 36m

Total Box Office: $76 million

While most of us know the basic plot of West Side Story by this point, the newest iteration of the classic 1961 film released in 2021 truly brings the cinematic, summer vibes right to our screens. And come on, all musicals count as summer movies, right?

Watch on HBO Max

31. 'Sisters' (2015)

Who's in it: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, Ike Barinholtz

Rating: 60%

Run Time: 1h 58m

Total Box Office: $105 million

With their old family home being sold by their parents, sisters Maura (Poehler) and Kate (Fey) head back to Orlando, Florida in order to clean out their bedroom. Being that it's their last night in the house, they decide to throw a blowout party where basically everything gets out of hand and the pool in their backyard somehow turns into a sinkhole.

Watch on Prime Video

32. 'Crazy Rich Asians' (2018)

Who's in it: Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Awkwafina, Lisa Lu, Ken Jeong

Rating: 91%

Run Time: 2h 1m

Total Box Office: $238.5 million

Based on the book of the same name by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians follows Rachel Chu (Wu), who learns—upon arrival at a wedding in Singapore—that her boyfriend, Nick (Henry Golding) is actually a very wealthy man with a super wealthy family to match.

Watch on HBO Max

33. 'Top Gun: Maverick' (2022)

Who's in it: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly

Rating: 97%

Run Time: 2h 17m

Total Box Office: $1.010 billion

Set about 30 years following the original Top Gun, Maverick (Cruise) is ordered to be an instructor back at TOPGUN, where he'll be working with a group of talented pilots who are about to take on an almost-impossible mission for the U.S. Navy. Maybe it's not technically a summer movie, but after seeing it, it sure feels like summer.

Did you like this article?
Thumbs Up
Thumbs Down