It is now officially summer, which makes it summer movie season! If you’re a movie-lover like me, the next few months are going to be one long movie-bingeing session.
Aside from the big-name movies coming out this summer, though, one of my favorite things about summer is going back to basics by rewatching some of my favorites. I wrote last summer about how this season is, for me, all about self-discovery and road trips, and I shared books that encapsulated this theme.
This summer, I’ve got five movies that do the same (and three honorable mentions).
Whether you want to go on a vicarious road trip or just kick back and relax at home with a fun movie, you’re sure to find just the thing on this list — and maybe even yourself in the process.
You may know Greta Gerwig from her Oscar nomination a few months ago for her solo directorial debut on the film Lady Bird. But before she was a director, she was an actress. You can hear me wax poetic about how much I love her here, so I won’t go too into detail here, but this is the movie where I first fell in love with her work.
Frances Ha is about the title character, Frances, who lives in New York City. When her best friend moves out of their shared apartment, Frances doesn’t know who she is anymore, but she’s determined to find out. Funny, delightfully awkward, and deeply insightful, Frances Ha always reminds me that no one really has life figured out, and that’s part of what makes it magical.
I like things that look like mistakes.
Frances Ha is available on Netflix, your favorite rental platforms, and probably also at your local library.
To The Bone
A little more intense than any of the other films listed here, I still include To The Bone because despite the dark subject matter, it’s one of the most hopeful movies I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen this movie many times).
It’s about a young woman named Eli who has anorexia. She goes to a new inpatient center to seek treatment for her eating disorder, and there finds herself challenged, physically and emotionally.
It’s also about finding courage to face your fears, and accepting help from people who want to walk through the hard things with you.
I think it deserves a place on your summer watch list because it’s beautiful and inspiring, whether or not you’ve personally struggled with an eating disorder. It’s surprisingly funny, heartwarming, and romantic even as it asks and answers some hard questions.
Bad things are going to happen, that’s not negotiable. What is, is how you deal with it.
Note: To The Bone is based on the filmmakers’ and actors’ actual experiences with anorexia and other eating disorders, and may be triggering for some viewers.
To The Bone is a Netflix Original Movie, and is only available on Netflix.
This film is centered on one of the more obvious tropes of summer storytelling: the road trip.
Elizabethtown is about a self-identified failure, who goes home for his father’s funeral in the small town the movie was named after. It’s about coming to terms with who your family are, and who you are, “failures” and all.
Not gonna lie, including this movie on my list is a bit controversial. It’s one of those movies that some people really hate, and some people really love, kind of like Frozen or Star Wars: The Last Jedi. (Fun fact: I loved one of those, and hated the other – can you guess which is which?)
But I love Elizabethtown because the characters are weird and quirky, and think too much about things that matter. And yes, because there’s a road trip. If nothing else, you can watch Orlando Bloom, at the peak of his post-Pirates of the Caribbean career, be, you know, Orlando Bloom.
If you’re nervous about whether you’ll like it, I recommend watching it by yourself, so if you like it, you get no judgment, and if you don’t like it, you can just turn it off. No harm, no foul.
Just make sure to let me know what you think!
You wanna be really great? Then have the courage to fail big and stick around. Make them wonder why you’re still smiling.
Elizabethtown is available on Hulu, Amazon Prime, your favorite rental platform, and probably at your local library.
If you, like me, occasionally despair of the scarcity of good romantic comedies in recent years, then you have to see this movie. Starring two very, very funny people, Man Up is set in London, and is all about how the wrong date (and pretending to be the right person) can change your life.
One of the main characters, Nancy (played by Lake Bell), has a list of mantras (she calls them “Nantras”) that she recites to herself, including things like “Be more deviant,” and “Get stronger thighs,” which are easy candidates for summer #goals.
If you’re looking for a new favorite rom-com that will have you actually laugh out loud and even in tears at the end (yeah, I might have cried, okay…you’ll cry too), look no further than Man Up.
You’re just – – you’re an emotional jigsaw at the moment but you’re gonna piece yourself back together. You know, start with the corners. Look for the blue bits.
Man Up is available on your favorite rental platform and possibly at your local library.
The perfect lighthearted teen movie, The Duff is easily one of my favorite teen movies (and as a devotee of ’80s movies, that’s saying something). It’s also got a great lesson in it about accepting who you are — it is possible, and sometimes, who you really are is exactly who other people want you to be.
It’s hilarious, Robbie Amell is adorable, and Mae Whitman is someone we all secretly wish was our best friend. It’s perfect for a night with friends, or even a solo night in, wearing sweatpants and eating Ben & Jerry’s (not that I know this from experience).
In the end, it isn’t about popularity or even getting the guy. It’s about understanding that no matter what label is thrown your way, only you can define yourself.
The Duff is available on your favorite rental platform and probably at your local library.
My list of movies that are perfect for the summer was upwards of twenty movies long, and it was hard to keep my shortlist to a manageable number. So, naturally, I’m cheating and including honorable mentions!
Sing Street — a musical set in the ’80s, about Irish teens trying to make it big as rock stars. Adorable, fun, and the music is fabulous. (Available on your favorite rental platforms)
Penelope — a modern-day fairytale about accepting yourself, flaws and all (also on my list of best movie kisses ever). (Available on your favorite rental platforms)
Little Miss Sunshine — an Oscar favorite from over a decade ago, this road trip family dramedy is perfect for a little summer introspection. (Available on your favorite rental platforms)
Now It’s Your Turn!
What are your favorite summer movies? Are there any movies coming out this summer you’re stoked for? What’s your take on Elizabethtown? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!