The first official day of summer is June 21st.
The first official day of summer is June 21st.
Photo credit: Ava Radovic/Canva/Achona online

5 Movies to kick off the summer

The countdown to summer is on, with only a few more weeks until students can let loose, embrace the sunshine, and have fun. However, knowing the close proximity to the most care-free time of the year can lead to students losing motivation. These five movies featured here — all available to stream for distracted students — focus on the relaxing, warm, and comforting feelings that come with the season of summer. Hopefully, a brief summer “vacation” with one of these movies will help remind students of what’s to come and push them to finish off strong in order to enjoy the summer — like the characters in these movies do.


In Aquamarine, the girls go to the Tama Mall, which doesn’t actually exist. (Photo credit: IMDb)


Aquamarine premiered in 2006, starring Y2K pop star Jojo, Emma Roberts, and Sara Paxton. The story follows young teens, Claire and Hailey, as they prepare to separate after Hailey moves. They are surprised that after a bad storm, a mermaid named Aquamarine has appeared in Claire’s swimming pool. In fascination, the girls befriend Aquamarine and teach her to navigate the human world, as she must find someone who loves her in a few days in order to stay a human. Throughout the movie, Aquamarine begins a romance with local lifeguard, Raymond, and whilst recognizing that the people she now loves most are Hailey and Claire. While the movie may be filled with mythical creatures and crazy mishaps (like sleeping in a water tower), it enlists an important part of life: the importance of friendship and platonic love. In addition, the movie captures some picturesque and iconic scenes, such as Aquamarine’s makeover transformation, and the inclusion of Weezer’s “Island In The Sun”, in the beginning, which elicits nostalgia for summer year-round.  

Romantic comedy star, Meg Ryan, plays Goose’s wife in the film. (Photo credit: IMDb)

Top Gun 

While Top Gun is an older movie, having been released in 1986, it has experienced a resurgence in popularity due to its sequel, Top Gun Maverick, released in 2021.  The movie follows a young Tom Cruise as he joins the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School, perhaps the most prestigious Naval Academy in the United States. While trying to learn new skills and become the best pilot with his colleague, nicknamed Goose, Maverick experiences numerous perilous situations, leading to his growth and development. While attending the academy, Maverick also falls in love with his flight instructor. Though the movie originally received mixed reviews, it turned out to be the largest-grossing domestic film of the year and was acclaimed for the film’s soundtrack. With Tom Cruise’s star-power, iconic scenes, and superb soundtrack, the movie became a summer classic, later creating the sequel that would also become another blockbuster, usually watched in the months of June and July.

Mamma Mia is set to start filming a second sequel, and a third movie soon. (Photo credit: IMDb)

Mamma Mia

Mamma Mia premiered on Broadway in 1999 as a jukebox musical containing a complete Abba Soundtrack. The story gained more traction when it was adapted into a movie in 2008, with a star-studded cast, including Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgard. Both the movie and show follow Sophie, a young adult, before her wedding as she schemes to have the three men who could possibly be her father to her wedding and give her away. Sophie’s single mother, Donna, has no knowledge of the scheme, is astonished to see the men of her past at her hotel the day before her daughter’s wedding. Though the true identity of Sophie’s father is never revealed, the three men decide to all stay present in Sophie’s life, and “share” her. The film was a hit at the Box office, accumulating almost seven hundred million dollars. With the well-known musical numbers, including Dancing Queen, Mamma Mia, Voulez-Vous, and Souper Trouper, fans usually sing along and fall in love with the summer setting, a small island in Greece. Through the setting, catchy songs, famous cast, and blue-and-white aesthetic, the film brings viewers to a warm and inviting film, often reminding them of summer.

Gilmore Girls star, Kelly Bishop, plays Baby’s mom in the film.
(Photo credit: IMDb)

Dirty Dancing 

Another ‘80s classic, Dirty Dancing, stars Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze in this romantic dance phenomenon. The movie follows Baby as she attends a summer resort with her parents. Meeting at a secret “Dirty Dancing” party, Baby develops a connection with the resort’s dance instructor, Robbie (Swayze), and they must work on an intricate dance routine, due to another dance instructor’s pregnancy. Robbie is then looked down upon by Baby’s father, due to his social class and prohibits the two from seeing each other. The two meet secretly, and end up showing their dance and proving her father wrong about the difference in social classes at the end of the night, to the song, “(I’ve had) The Time of My Life”, whilst doing the iconic lift. This movie not only teaches the viewers to not judge a book by its cover, and that social status doesn’t define a person’s worth, but also holds some of the most well-known cinematic moments, to the dance rendition, to the memorable line, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner”. The film holds significance to summer, demonstrating Baby’s transformative summer in 1963, and also alludes to the passionate summer fling. 

The cast is still friends, often seen hanging out together. (Photo credit: IMDb)

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a 2005 movie that stars Blake Lively, Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera, and Amber Tamblyn and is adapted from the five-part young adult book series of the same title. The story follows four best friends, Carmen, Lena, Bridget, and Tibby as they embark on separate summer journeys for the first time in their lives. Just before leaving, they miraculously find a pair of jeans that fit all four of them, which they decide to wear and then mail to the next person in the group in order to keep them all connected. The pants act as a symbol of their friendship and allow for them to all grow in different ways, as they simultaneously must face emerging issues. Carmen spends the summer with her dad and his fiancee and often experiences racial microaggressions in addition to feeling like an outsider to her father’s new family. Bridget travels to Mexico for soccer camp and must deal with the grief of losing her mother. Lena goes on a voyage to Greece to see her grandparents and falls in love for the first time. Tibby remains at home but spends the summer with a younger girl who is dying and undergoes immense hardship. In the end, they reconnect, and they all come back to a mature version of themselves, with new outlooks on life. All in all, this movie demonstrates the teenage girl experience, while including the subject of summer changing the trajectory of a young person’s life with the events that occur. 

Whether a recent movie or throwback is what gives the viewer the nostalgic feeling of summer, it is interesting to see the impact that films have during the time of their release. It is also important to recognize the common theme of coming of age since summer is an important time to grow and experience events outside of one’s comfort zone. 

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