Watching a movie at the beach? An idyllic activity, but will most likely be foiled by the ever present waves of salt water damaging your equipment. Better get some waterproof…everything actually. Bad humor aside, movies during a vacation at the beach are a good match, just not physically on the beach. Save these flicks for a day when the sun is just too hot for sunbathing, or when the waves are just too choppy for surfing, but don’t watch on a rainy day, that list will be for another time. Here are four movies about summer, in all its moods and tones.
The Way Way Back
Directed by Nat Faxan and Jim Rash, this coming of age comedy drama stars Steve Carell in an uncharacteristically nasty role, Liam James, Sam Rockwell and Toni Collette. The story follows fourteen-year-old Duncan, played by Liam James, as he travels with his mother and her boyfriend to his beach house for the summer. He befriends Sam Rockwell’s character Owen, a member of the staff at the local water park in town, who takes him under his wing and helps him open up about this problematic family life and insecurities as a teenager. This movie has heart and humor, but also delves into mature topics of changing family structures and the power of a good mentor figure. A high recommendation from this writer.
This older film, it came into theaters in 2000, was directed by Cameron Crowe and is an American drama and semi-autobiographical from the director’s point of view. It follows a fictional teenage journalist who is writing for the Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s and covering a fictional band to get his very first cover story published as a rock band writer. The autobiographical qualities come from Crowe’s experiences writing for Rolling Stone as a teenager himself. The summer theme comes from a life changing summer vacation that the main character goes through, as he rubs elbows with bands and witnesses first hand the trials and triumphs of a traveling rock band. The movie stars Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup and Kate Hudson and received four Oscar nominations and one win for Crowe for his screenplay. Almost Famous also got positive reviews from critics, so it should be checked out for its autobiographical elements and its historical 1970s vibe.
Jaws opened with the now famous music that scared a generation to not go into the water and tells the classic story of man vs. nature, with a director who established this movie as the quintessential summer blockbuster. Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary and Murray Hamilton, this movie should be seen for its historical importance for movies and summer screenings, but more importantly for its masterpiece of a story. Yet there are other master storytellers on this list, and the last one is from a writer famous for his horrifying yet thoughtful tales.
Stand By Me
“I never had any friends later on, like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?” This line at the conclusion of this timeless tale, about young friendship, growth into adulthood and a summer that turned young boys into young men, will forever shine in that wardrobe of literary quotes that stuck with me through the years. This movie was an adaptation of Stephen King’s short story, “The Body” and follows a group of boys who could be found in storybooks, but would be a pleasure to meet in this age of bigotry and selflessness. Directed by Rob Reiner and starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell and Kiefer Sutherland, this tale should be viewed in the summer, where grand adventures and self-discovery are all the more possible on a boundless day.
It is touching, heartfelt, terrifying and above all, hopeful movies that are recommended on this day. Take them into consideration the next time a beach day deserves a break from the sun and surf in favor of a quiet activity in another beautiful world.