The Top Five Summer Movies Of All Time

Dazed and Confused, Jaws, and The Sandlot

The summer box office may be on hold, but summer movies can still be enjoyed in the comfort of our own homes. What makes a good summer movie? For starters, the plot has to take place during the summer months. The summer should be its own theme and play an integral part in the plot. Camp and the last day of school are two popular settings for summer movies.

This is not a list of movies that are typically released during the summer. So blockbusters and sequels that are released during the summer months are disqualified unless the story revolves around the summer. Avengers: Endgame is a great summer blockbuster, but the film doesn’t specify it takes place during the summer so it’s off the list.

With that being said, here are my top five summer movies of all time.

5. Heavyweights

Oh, look! A deli meat! Sleepaway camp is a good setting for a summer movie. Good luck finding a funnier kids movie than Heavyweights. I will go to bat for Heavyweights. Critics hate it, but fans including myself love it. It features an all-time, over-the-top performance from Ben Stiller as Tony Perkis, the fitness guru who takes over the weight loss camp. Everything Stiller does is laugh out loud hilarious. From his one-liners (“Tonight’s lecture: liposuction, option or obsession?”) to his obsessive mannerisms (“Come on you devil log!”), Tony Perkis walked so Tugg Speedman could run. If you don’t agree, then lunch is canceled due to a lack of hustle.

4. Wet Hot American Summer

Wet Hot American Summer is a cult classic that’s frankly not for everyone. For example, there’s a storyline that revolves around a chef, who’s a Vietnam vet, that gets advice from a talking-can of mixed vegetables. Once again, it’s not for everyone, but it successfully spoofs the teen sex comedy genre. More importantly, the cast is stacked and includes a lot of little-known actors at the time who went on to become huge stars. Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, and Bradley Cooper are the standouts, but the cast also includes Christopher Meloni, Janeane Garofalo, Molly Shannon, Michael Showalter, Marguerite Moreau, Ken Marino, Michael Ian Black, David Hyde Pierce, Joe Lo Truglio, and H. Jon Benjamin. Wet Hot American Summer is the 2011-2012 Oklahoma City Thunder. The cast just needed some more time before reaching their max potential.

3. The Sandlot

Play ball! Where do I even begin? The Sandlot is one of the rare movies where you don’t have to love the sport in order to enjoy the movie. The Sandlot is a film about friendship and childhood just as much as it is a love letter to baseball. The Sandlot’s characters all represent a specific stereotype in each person’s friend group. Every group, both male and female, has some version of the following people: the new kid, the loudmouth, the annoying one, the sibling, the trash talker, the little guy, and the hotshot. Finally, every group has the alpha aka their Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez. The best part of The Sandlot is nostalgia. The film takes you back to when you were 12 and only cared about playing with your friends every summer. The film also has Wendy Peffercorn so there’s that, too.

The Sandlot / 20th Century Fox

2. Jaws

I recently called Jaws the “most important summer blockbuster ever.” 45 years since its release, the film still holds up. It’s a masterpiece from start to finish. Not much more to say about a film that changed the film industry forever.

1.Dazed and Confused

Dazed and Confused / Universal Pictures

That’s the thing about these high school girls. As I get… Nope, we’re not going to finish that line even though we ALL know someone from our hometown who lives in the past and still thinks he’s in high school. Regardless of how you feel about Dave Wooderson’s taste in women, the fact is the Dazed and Confused remains the greatest summer movie of all time. It also happens to be the greatest hangout movie of all time. Every single person who went to school can relate to the last day of school and the first day of summer. It’s what kids live for and continue to live for even as we age. Cruising around with your friends, looking for parties, and pondering the future are all tasks that every teenager undertakes as they grow up. As soon as “Sweet Emotion” hits, it takes me back to a time where all I cared about was hanging out with my friends and finding dumb shit to do. In the words of Wooderson, “Just keep livin’ man.”

What are your top summer movies? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

Jaws 45th Anniversary: The Most Important Summer Blockbuster


What is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Jaws? Here’s mine: Duunnn dunnn… duuuunnnn duun… duuunnnnnnnn dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnn dunnnn.

45 years ago, Jaws hit theaters, and little did it know, it would change the film industry forever. There’s a case to be made that in terms of blockbusters, Jaws is the defining blockbuster of the modern era. There are films before it and after. Let’s start with the film itself. In layman’s terms, Jaws is about three dudes (Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw) who hunt down a killer great white shark that’s been terrorizing a local beach town. Except it’s so much more than that. It’s an edge-of-your-seat thriller that requires a Xanax after the end credits. A killer, man-eating shark makes it a horror, but Jaws also highlights masculinity and the power struggle between men. The political decisions in Jaws mirror the political choices during the coronavirus pandemic as local governments battle unruly residents on how to reopen the economy. Should we listen to the experts or hit the beaches for the Fourth of July?

Jaws is a masterclass in how to create suspense without revealing your villain too early. It’s fucking terrifying especially the first time you see it. Think about this. The shark doesn’t fully appear onscreen for one hour and 21 minutes into the film. A lot of that had to do with mechanical problems with the shark so director Steven Spielberg had to find ways to shoot around these deficiencies. The anticipation and ominous presence only heighten because of John Williams’ Academy Award-winning score.

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to talk about Spielberg. At the time of its release, Spielberg was an unknown 27-year-old kid with little studio experience. Part of what makes Jaws so legendary is the behind-the-scenes drama. There are so many documentaries about how the production of Jaws was like hell on earth. The shoot was supposed to last 55 days, but it ended up being 159 days. With mechanical shark malfunctions, a budget that ballooned from $4 million to $9 million, and onset drama between Dreyfuss and Shaw, Spielberg believed Jaws would be the end of his career.

Well, Mr. Spielberg, Jaws did not ruin your career. In fact, Jaws turned Spielberg from an unknown to a superstar in one summer. “Jawsmania” was a real thing during the summer of 1975. Jaws made over $490 million at the box office, which was a record at the time until Star Wars passed it two years later. My parents, who both saw the film in theaters, talked about how people were afraid to go into the ocean that entire summer. Speaking from experience, before I dive into the water, I check the horizon to see if a shark fin is on the horizon. I can thank Jaws for that.

Jaws poster

More importantly, Jaws set the precedent for summer blockbusters. Up until then, studios would release films of lesser quality in the summer because they were of the thought that only teenagers went to the movies during those months. Winter was seen as a more profitable month for big studio releases. However, Jaws made the summer the most important time for blockbusters. Jaws spent more than $2 million on marketing in the lead up to the release. Network television spots created a sense of familiarity with audiences because they knew the premise and heard William’s suspenseful score before going to theaters. Plus, Jaws opened in over 400 theaters on the first weekend, which was unheard of at the time. Spending huge money on marketing and opening in hundreds of theaters is the blueprint that studios still follow to this day.

Despite poorly-received sequels, Jaws has still survived the test of time. It was selected by the Library of Congress I’ve rewatched parts from Jaws dozens of times and the fear in the pit of my stomach still remains as if it’s my first viewing experience. No matter what happens, always remember that Hooper drives the boat, chief.

Will you watch this classic on the 45th anniversary? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.