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Movie reviewer shares ideas for fun summertime viewing
By Megan Bianco
When it comes to hot spots to indulge in during the summertime, Dana Point is no doubt an essential in Southern California. There’s the beach to enjoy surfing, swimming or tanning; the local campsites for those visiting who prefer the great outdoors; and shops and restaurants in town to venture as well. But there are the people who really just like to keep to themselves in their homes, whether with books, TV or computer. But introverts or extraverts alike can say they enjoy summertime for extra movie time. And what better movies to watch than flicks that take place in summer. Funny, scary or sentimental, there’s something for everyone this season.
Hollywood has been cashing in on surfing beginning back in the 1950s with Malibu teen beach queen Gidget. A movie at first starring Sandra Dee in the 1959 film titled after the character, before becoming a TV show with Sally Field in 1965. Gidget became so successful, a mini-genre was coined for the next decade of Gidget movies and even spoofed in the 2000 farce Psycho Beach Party starring pre-famous Amy Adams and Lauren Ambrose as ‘Chicklet.’
Younger generations enjoy the teen surf flick Blue Crush (2002) with Kate Bosworth and Michelle Rodriguez as passionate surfers with day jobs as hotel maids in Hawaii. As well as the family features Johnny Tsunami (1999) and Rip Girls (2000) from Disney also set in Hawaii.
Paul Rudd played a memorably dense surf instructor to Jason Segel after following his ex-girlfriend (Kristen Bell) and new boyfriend (Russell Brand) to O’ahu in Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008). And for something a little different, Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break (1991) has Keanu Reeves undercover as an FBI agent out to find a group of bank robbers lead by Patrick Swayze who also surf the waves of Malibu.
Summer is the most popular time of the year to travel on vacation, either at the beach or in foreign locations.
In cinema, Italy has been a popular holiday setting over the years. Audrey Hepburn won an Oscar and skyrocketed to fame alongside Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday (1953) as a princess hiding from the press while visiting Italy. One of Hepburn’s favorite directors, Billy Wilder directed the romantic comedy romp Avanti! (1972) with Jack Lemmon as a businessman who heads to Italy to pick up his tycoon father’s dead body, only to fall for the daughter of his father’s mistress (Juliet Mills). Light in the Piazza (1962) set in Florence, and Summertime (1955) set in Venice, have become fan favorites among Olivia de Havilland and Katharine Hepburn fans with tales of sudden, unexpected love in Italia.
Another overlooked, but charming, feature from Disney is Summer Magic (1963), starring Hayley Mills and Burl Ives. Some families in big cities head out to the country of the summer season, and in Magic, the Carey family move out of Boston one summer to ‘Beautiful Beulah’ in the middle of Maine where new friends, adventures and summer flings occur.
Road trips and theme parks are also a big part of summer, and the Griswolds are the most famous movie family to attempt both. The first and best of the National Lampoon’s Vacation series had Clark (Chevy Chase), Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall) and Audrey (Dana Barron) drive from Chicago all the way to Walley World in California in 1983.
The most popular golf movie of all time, Caddyshack, was set during the summer of 1980 with Danny (Michael O’Keefe) trying to win a scholarship through a caddy program in Nebraska. Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight and Bill Murray round out the infamous cast. Murray would go on to star in another summer comedy classic, What About Bob? a decade later, driving Richard Dreyfuss crazy on his family vacation in New Hampshire.
In 1979, Murray made his film debut in the summer camp classic Meatballs, centered around a rowdy counselor (Murray) and an insecure kid named Rudy (Chris Makepeace) in at ‘Camp Mohawk’ in Canada.
If you’ve never been to camp as a child, you’ve probably watched the scenario on film. Most likely the fat camp in Heavyweights (1995), the irreverent Camp Nowhere (1994) and the Catskill family resort in Dirty Dancing (1987).
For nightmarish summer camp visits, there is Friday the 13th (1981) and Sleepaway Camp (1983). All of which should amuse the multitude of summer campers who gather at our beach and state parks.
Although viewed as horror movie for Halloween-time generally, the most famous movie set during the week of 4th of July is Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) on Amity Island. It is best enjoyed by older audiences who aren’t afraid of the ocean or mechanical sharks.
So whether you enjoy the sun outside or the movie screen inside, there’s a little something for everyone this summer.