A Comet’s guide to summertime film fun

Grace Cowger | Mercury Staff

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While some movies are year-round favorites, the arrival of sweltering weather and mosquito hordes evokes a desire for media that can provide an escape from arguably the worst season of the year, filled with pit stains and bug bites. So, slather on your sunscreen, throw on a crop top and prep for the summer with some films that can provide an early vacation and a romanticized image of a terrible season.  

1. Little Miss Sunshine 

This tragicomedy follows a dysfunctional family as they embark on a lengthy and tumultuous road trip in an old van to take the youngest family member, Olive, to a beauty pageant. While Olive’s drive to win the Little Miss Sunshine Contest is admirable, the family members’ sanity is put to the test as they navigate conflicting personalities and absurd incidents that arise from the trip. The strange and endearing cast is portrayed by experts in quirky characters such as Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Paul Dano.  

Everyone has been crammed into a vehicle with their family during a road trip with headaches and gas station stops aplenty, and this film encapsulates this roller coaster of emotions with a charming cast and simple storyline. Simultaneously a tearjerker — hitting on themes of body image and suicide — and an antidepressant showing the beauty in peculiarity, this film is a perfect representation of the good and bad of vacationing.  

2. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)  

Nothing screams summer movie like a good old ’90s slasher. Inane and hot characters race away from a killer whose costume and motives are too corny to actually strike fear into the viewer’s heart, resulting in the perfect watch for summertime hangouts with friends. This film is no different, following four friends who return to their hometown after receiving a letter from an anonymous source claiming to know about their accidental murder of a fisherman.  

While critics despise this horror film because of its supposed inferiority to “Scream,” which was released the year prior, the laughable plot and cliche horror movie sequences make this film an entertaining watch. And of course, since the movie is set in New England, the killer who threatens the protagonists wears a yellow rain slicker and a hook for a hand, resulting in a campy and ridiculous antagonist.  

3. Triangle of Sadness  

While everyone wishes they could jet off on a lavish international vacation, the reality of summer break can be hours of internship work, verbal abuse from customers at your part-time job or struggling through summer courses. In “Triangle of Sadness,” those worries are unfathomable for models Carl and Yaya, who vacation on a luxury cruise ship with other wealthy, out-of-touch individuals. The trip takes an unexpected turn when the ship suddenly sinks, leaving its crew and pampered guests stuck on a seemingly inhabitable island — making your packed summer schedule feel blissful in comparison.  

This hilarious satire shows the stark differences in social class through off-putting humor and visually engaging scenes that scream old money. The characters are absurd and the theme is incredibly on the nose, but this exaggeration works in the film’s favor, making it an entertaining adventure that encourages you to hate on the rich.  

4. Mid90s  

    The summers of our childhoods were simultaneously blissful and angsty times, and “Mid90s” is a bittersweet coming of age film that will transport viewers back to their early teenage years. Sweet 13-year-old Stevie finds himself in a hurry to grow up in the midst of skating culture in ’90s Los Angeles. The ragtag team of older teen skateboarders he befriends expose the boy to summer adventures spent at the skatepark filled with pain, angst and excitement.  

    This film is Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, and in his dedication to authenticity, he casted boys plucked straight from the skate parks of Los Angeles. By casting skaters, the characters feel personable and real. Their passion for skating is visceral, and every actor is able to draw fits of laughter and tears from viewers through Hill’s signature vulgar humor and simplistic dialogue.  

    5. The Virgin Suicides  

    Another reason for summer’s inferiority is not being able to see class crushes as often. The infatuation that comes from the mystery of crushing on someone you don’t know is exciting and breaks up the monotony of classes, but is it healthy? Queen of the female gaze, director Sophia Coppola portrays the dark effects of romantic obsession through the hyper feminine and summery aesthetic of “The Virgin Suicides.” The film follows the elusive and ethereal Lisbon sisters, whose deaths continue to haunt the neighborhood boys who obsessed over them in life.  

    The cinematography of this film focuses on a dreamy and surrealist depiction of suburbia, contrasting the solemn subject matter with muted pastels and distinctly girlish imagery of flora and dainty outfits. This feast for the eyes makes viewers understand the unspoken suffering of adolescent girls in Coppola’s best work yet.  


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