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Summer is traditionally a time to be outdoors and enjoy time with friends and family. It can also be a time to huddle on the couch later at night to enjoy some humorous, adventurous and patriotic movies. When I think about summer, I am filled with wonderful memories. Often these memories are intertwined with movies that mirror my experiences and inspire and make me laugh today.

For the first three years of my career I marketed and sold movies to Parks and Recreation departments around the nation to show to their community. It was always fun to create summer movie schedules that would help bring people together at their local parks. Over those years there have been many movies that have stood out among the rest. This list is compiled of movies that personally have meant a lot to me and I hope you will enjoy them this summer too. I have chosen not to include animated films in this list and have arranged these by topic as well as individual movies.

1. The Great Outdoors (1988)

Nothing says summer vacation like an upper midwest lake house trip with John Candy and Dan Aykroyd.

2. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

Only the most dedicated dad like Clark Griswold wouldn’t let a dead Aunt Edna ruin their pilgrimage to Walley World. This is by far one of the funniest prayers you will ever hear.

3. Stand by Me (1986)

Some of the finest moments in life can be found around a campfire and debating what kind of animal or person Goofy is. Good story, Vern. It is also hard to imagine how Stephen Kind could have written such a poignant coming of age story from the 1950s.

4. The Goonies (1985)

If you grew up in the 80s there was no way to miss The Goonies. There are only a few who are able to  direct such great comedies with kids. Richard Donner and Steven Spielberg created a 1980s masterpiece. “Goonies never say die.”

5. Baseball movies: Sandlot (1993), The Natural (1994), Pride of the Yankees (1942) and Field of Dreams (1994)

From Sandlot, there is no better insult from back in the day than “You play ball like a girl.”

One of the finest endings to a baseball movie ever and the memorable soundtrack creates Roy Hobbs to become a legend. “Go pick me out a winner, Bobby”

You don’t have to be a Yankee fan to appreciate Lou Gehrig’s speech. “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

In the conclusion to Field of Dreams, there is no man who will not cry after watching this scene.

6. Golf: Tin Cup (1986) and Caddyshack (1980)

Roy McAvoy played by Kevin Costner is full with outlandish challenges on the golf course. “Did you ever shoot par with a 7-iron?”

If you have ever played golf, there is little chance that you didn’t hear someone mimicking Bill Murray saying ,”Cinderella story, outta nowhere about to become the Masters Champion.”

7. Beach: One Crazy Summer (1986),  Weekend at Bernie’s (1989), and Jaws (1975)

If you ever want revenge on rich islanders, send in Godzilla.

I’ve always loved Weekend at Bernie’s because for years we have vacationed in Bald Head Island, where this was filmed.

Roy Scheider’s line, “You’re going to need a bigger boat.” is one of the most quoted lines in movie history. Jaws defined what a summer beach blockbuster looks like.

8. Camping: Meatballs (1979)White Water Summer (1987)

Along with John Belushi’s epic motivational speech in Animal House, Bill Murray matches it here in Meatballs.

“Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” serves as an extreme outdoor guide who brings a group of four city boys to survive the wilderness.

9. Military: Glory (1989) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989), John Adams HBO Miniseries (2008), and The Patriot (2000)

This campfire scene prior to the battle to take Fort Wagner is one of the most beautiful and emotional scenes showing the spirit of the colored 54th Massachusetts Regiment.

Although a controversial movie, it is perhaps Tom Cruise’s finest performance. “People say that if you don’t love America, then get the hell out. Well, I love America.” 

In the epic HBO miniseries based on David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, John Adams, Paul Giamatti plays our founding father and in this scene, he shares his perspective on the declaration of independence.

Essentially this movie is “Braveheart-American style” but still an enjoyable depiction of The Revolutionary War in the South.

10. Armageddon (1998) and  Independence Day (1996)

To round-out the summer films the 1990s brought a slew of space-apocalyptic films. There is nothing better than this astronaut evaluation scene in Armageddon.

Despite this being a science fiction film, this is by far one of the finest American President speeches. Even historian Bill Bennett refers to this in his book The American Patriot’s Almanac.

Honorable mention: Dirty Dancing, Forrest Gump, What about Bob?, Beach Blanket Bingo, Endless Summer, Splash, Step Into Liquid, Summer Rental, and Roman Holiday.

What are your favorite summer movies? 

My wife and I enjoy watching movies together, but sometimes it is hard to find something we both like. In my experience, men and women enjoy stories and art differently. Nevertheless, sometimes the sexes agree—and especially where a genre has something for both, like the American romantic comedy. Over time, my wife and I have found a few of these that we both love and will watch multiple times.

Every one of these romantic comedies has three elements that set it above the rest and help it to connect with men and women.

  • Well-written, witty humor
  • Bursts of action, with some physical comedy
  • Thoughtful interactions between men and women that lead the story toward love

Here are our top five romantic comedies that both men and women enjoy.

Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

My wife and I loved this movie so much that we went back to the movie theater a second time to see it. It has some of the wittiest dialogue I’ve heard recently in film, and the laughs are doled out evenly between its male and female characters. And there is something wonderful and amusing about watching men fight over women.

Best quote: Ryan Gosling’s character Jacob has some of the best lines. In what follows, he is trying to coach Steve Carell’s middle-aged character on how to be a man.

I’m going to help you rediscover your manhood. Do you have any idea where you could have lost it?

I don’t know whether to help you or euthanize you.

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The Princess Bride (1987)

Yes it has “princess” in it, but it also has everything you need: sword fighting, wit, love, and a cynical and fast-talking Sicilian! The Princess Bride has survived a quarter century and continues to be loved by many.

Best Quote: (I don’t think there is any man who doesn’t know this line.)

Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

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Say Anything (1989)

Set in the late 80s, Say Anything has an excellent soundtrack and is a great cultural bridge to the 90s. Its director, Cameron Crowe, is one of the few male directors who has been able to connect men and women through his movies through Almost Famous, Elizabethtown, We Bought A Zoo, and Jerry Magwire.  That is why he chose John Cusack to play Lloyd Dobler, the everyman. Every young man—every young person—will identify with Lloyd. We empathize with Lloyd Dobler. We cheer for him. We know (or can mumble) every word from Peter Gabriel’s song In Your Eyes because of Lloyd. Lloyd pursues the love of his life and inspires us to do the same.

Best quote:

I am looking for a dare to be great situation.

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Romancing the Stone (1984)

I never thought a Harlequin-like story could be so appealing to men and women, but it sure is. Kathleen Turner’s excellent voice and Michael Douglas’s rough-and-wild personality take us on a great ride through drug-dealing Colombia. It is no wonder that Bob Zemeckis directed this classic.

Best quote: While Jack and Joan are trying to escape they find a crazy drug lord whom they think has a truck.

Joan Wilder: Can we get there in your car?
Juan: Who told you I had a car?
Joan: The men in the village.
Juan: They told you I had a car? They are such comedians. They meant my little mule: Pepe.

romancing the stone

Date Night (2010)

Here is another great Steve Carell performance but it is nowhere near complete without Tina Fey as his lovely, witty wife. It is easy for any married couple to relate to this movie and pick up on the wonderful details in the film. Brooke and I watch it each time and still laugh out loud.

Best quote:

 If we are going to pay this much for crab it better sing and dance and introduce us to the Little Mermaid!

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Honorable Mention

High Fidelity, Bull Durham, Lost in Translation, 10 Things I Hate About You, Tin Cup, Love Actually, Four Weddings and A Funeral, Elizabethtown, Jerry Magwire, Almost Famous, For Love of The Game, When Harry Met Sally, and pretty much any Judd Apatow film (although women may disagree with that)

 

What are your favorite romantic comedies that both you and your significant other can enjoy?