The Best Summer Movie of All Time

How would you define the best summer movie of all time?

Over at Cinematical, they’re trying to figure out just that with 64-summer-movie tournament, a great idea I should have thought of first. Crap.

The problem is it becomes a popularity contest. Oh really, Star Wars is getting crazy amounts of votes? Who would have thought that?!?!?! But should it even qualify as something that should be considered the greatest summer movie of all time? How would we know?

Before now, we didn’t. That’s why I’ve spent most of my life thinking about stupid things like this so that I can eloquently disseminate some rules on the subject:

eighth-highest-grossing movie of your summer? not good enough.

eighth-highest-grossing movie of your summer? not good enough.

It had to make a lot of money. Like, gobs and gobs of record-breaking money and it had to come in the top 5 of its year’s box office rankings. That’s what summer movies are all about. ELIMINATES FROM THE TOURNAMENT: Speed, Untouchables, Caddyshack, The Muppet Movie, Smokey and the Bandit, Blues Brothers, Blade Runner, others.

It can’t be a sequel, that’s too easy. The event hype is already built-in from the success of the first one. ELIMINATES: About half the field, even Empire, Jedi and Dark Knight.

–However, it should inspire a sequel. Unless there are extenuating circumstances that make it nearly impossible. If there is no sequel to a ridiculously successful movie, that means the actors involved could care less about revisiting that character even if you backed a dump truck full of hundreds onto their front porch. ELIMINATES: Top Gun, Twister, Gladiator (prequel), Animal House, There’s Something About Mary, Finding Nemo, ET, Sixth Sense, Lion King (direct-to-DVD doesn’t count). Too bad. Something About Mary would have ranked pretty high on my summer movie list.

History? Please. If I wanted to learn I’d go to school. Even now, 13 years removed from school, I’m pretty sure my brain still shuts off in the middle of June and doesn’t come back on until Labor Day. ELIMINATES: Braveheart, Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, Apollo 13, even though I really, really liked all of those movies.

–There has to be some kind of epic, mind-blowing scene that you walk out of the theater talking about. Every good summer movie has one. It helps if after said scene, there is some kind of intense audience reaction, like spontaneous applause. ELIMINATES: Blair Witch, Airplane!, Finding Nemo, Men in Black, Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

too bad for you joker. you get eliminated by, like, three different rules

too bad for you joker. you get eliminated by, like, three different rules

No popular adaptations. The audience should walk in at least somewhat not knowing what to expect. ELIMINATES: All the comic book movies, even Spider-Man, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

–You have to remember everything about seeing it in the theater. Doesn’t matter how long ago it was. Who you were with. Where you went after the movie. Whether the theater was packed or you were the only one there. How many times you saw it. ELIMINATES: Grease. Until just now, I didn’t even realize it was a summer movie.

It has to hold up. Ask yourself this question: If you were already watching something mildly interesting on TV and you were flipping through the channels and the movie came up on HBO or Encore or something. Would you stop what you were watching and check out this movie? ELIMINATES: Alien and Jurassic Park. I’ve never stopped what I was doing to watch either of them.

Using all those qualifications, I’ve gotten it down to eight from those 64 — Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, Independence Day, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, The Hangover, Die Hard. Personally, I’m throwing out Raiders and Jaws because I didn’t see them in the theater. They fit all the criteria, but I don’t feel right about rating their importance if I couldn’t gauge the theater reaction. That’s kinda not fair, since Raiders should probably win because of scenes like this:

That leaves six, and I’m not surprised at all that four of these would have been the first five or six that came to my head. I didn’t think of Star Wars because I was so young (3 in 1978 by the time I saw it), and The Hangover is the wild card. I never would have thought it would fit through the screening process.

Breaking ’em down by theater experience:

BACK TO THE FUTURE: My parents had to go see it first to make sure it was appropriate for their 10-year-old son. It felt like forever waiting for them to see it, but I went the next day after they saw it.

DIE HARD: First R-rated movie I saw in the theater. Fulfilled every R-rated movie dream I ever had.

GHOSTUBUSTERS: Showed up late to a Little League game because of it. When I got there, the coach asked why and was ready to send me home. I told him I went to see Ghostbusters. He said OK and immediately put me second base. Didn’t hurt that it had one of the most stunningly popular movie songs of all time that made it a complete phenomenon.

THE HANGOVER: This was AB (after baby), so I had to wait a couple weeks to see it. At post-movie dinner, my wife said, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you laugh so much in a theater.”

INDEPENDENCE DAY: Saw the night-before preview showing. Riotous applause after the destruction scene, probably the biggest applause I’ve ever heard in a theater.

tough to beat the galaxy far, far away

tough to beat the galaxy far, far away

STAR WARS: I obviously remember more about seeing the re-issue in February 1997. A professor asked me if I would be spending that Friday night working on my senior thesis project that was due in a couple days. I told him no, I was going to see Star Wars. That was probably the moment he realized I was a lost cause. Got an A on the project though.

My vote is Die Hard. I just can’t go any other way. All six of these movies had separate hands in shaping my movie-watching life and except for The Hangover, I’ve seen them all about a trillion times. But of all of them, Die Hard is the one I can’t turn off if I’m flipping through a movie. Everything else, I can pick a part to take a break in and come back. Not Die Hard. From start to finish, it’s entirely the definition of what a summer movie should be, still to this day. It’s why it was copied so much, because it’s the ultimate formula for how to make a summer movie and an action movie.

Some extra links:

Sorry, MTV Movie Awards. Or Kate – Jon + 8 – Aunt Jodi x paparazzi / divorce mathematical equation that even Will Hunting couldn’t figure out. Neither of you could top the lure of the NBA Finals last night or downloading my daughter’s recent videos to YouTube. I did watch very random pieces of the Movie Awards, and was hoping I would be the only one that noticed the Sopranos-like amount of cursing, but that seems to be the big day-after story. What a perfect year for MTV to go live with its award show that it used to pretape. When that happens, the promo is usually “It’s live, anything can happen!” but it never does, to the delight of everyone at the network. Well, last night it did. Every time I turned it on, someone was making with the cussing, but the most disturbing one to me wasn’t the F-bomb-laced speech from the dad from the Twilight series. It was Jaden Smith (age 11) presenting the Biggest Bad@ss Star award to some kung-fu guy, forcing him to say @ss. When did it become OK for an 11-year-old to say that? It’s setting a horrible example for every other 11-year-old, and it makes me think Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith are absentee/bad parents. Oh, and did you hear two hot girls kissed? Me neither. FF to the 15 second mark:

When Bullock comes back, she sure comes back! She also made a surprise appearance at the imminently important Guys Choice Awards on Spike this weekend, though it won’t be broadcast until June 20. Before she went to it — and probably after — Bullock couldn’t have even told you one show on Spike other than her soon-to-be-ex’s show, but now she went there to receive an award. Don’t think for a second this isn’t a calculated move to go on the home network of Jesse James to either stick it to him (“Ha ha, I’m on your network and you can’t even come out of hiding!”) or show her sense of humor (Her joke will be something like this, “I was told I’d be receiving the Jesse James Memorial Award, but he’s not dead yet … Wait, is he?”). But it’s not some random little nothingness.

i've got a problem, and no one else can help. they're making an a-team movie.

i've got a problem, and no one else can help. they're making an a-team movie.

It’s getting tough to spin the crappy box office numbers, but it’s fun watching them try. The latest edition is this diddy to the money being 25 percent down this weekend compared to last year on the same weekend: “I’m still confident when you take a look at some of the films coming up in the summer, that audiences will start coming out in droves,” said David Spitz, head of distribution for Lionsgate. “There’s a lot of big titles, including next weekend.” Let’s break this down, shall we? First off, the “next weekend” he’s talking about is two 80s retreads, the Karate Kid remake and The A-Team, both of which look less than promising quality-wise, to say the least. If they’re expecting those two to pull out Hollywood of the doldrums, they’re in for a big surprise. Second, big titles? You can barely use the plural form of that, because I only see two big titles — Toy Story 3 and Twilight Eclipse. Third, it’s really disappointing that this douche says “titles” instead of “movies.” It’s confirmation that people in Hollywood could give two turds about the quality of a picture, they just want a familiar title to make sure it opens to $60 million. Fourth, coming out in droves? I’d love to have a hidden webcam on this jerk when realizes this is more than just an anomaly, that people really do want to see quality, not just titles. It would probably be like the Air Force commander-type guy at the El Toro Air Base in Independence Day when the aliens attack and his cigar just falls out of his mouth when he realizes the entire base is about to be toast. Make better movies and we’ll be be there.

This entry was posted in Movies, Music, Pop Culture, TV and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.