4 Summer Movies Worth Watching 5 Or 10 More Times

4 Summer Movies Worth Watching 5 Or 10 More Times

Sure, you could watch Friends episodes on repeat, in the background of your daily life, for the next few months and years. It would be soothing, relaxing, and filled with canned laughter. But we’d like to propose something else that checks most of those boxes but provides just a touch more mental stimulation: re-watch some classic summer movies instead.

It’s laid-back; you don’t have to pay eagle-eyed attention. It’s reliable; you already know you’re gonna like it. It’s control-oriented; queuing up a classic allows us to select for an emotion—give me nostalgia, give me lust, give me comfort. Or, give me All Dogs Go To Heaven 400 times in a row.

Ahead, we asked five of our favorite female film critics and cinephiles to share their favorite classic summer movies to re-watch. (To stack the odds just a bit, two named the same film.) Read what these brilliant minds recommend—and then go follow @FemaleCritics, a Twitter account dedicated to surfacing more of their views and reviews.

Before Sunset (2004)

“Is there a movie more romantic than the second installment of Before? I wrote a post for Vulture (correctly) arguing that summer is the best season for romantic comedies, and Before Sunset is a key part of my argument: It’s the one of the perfect summer movies. It’s a a heady, talky vacation movie-cum-love story, where two lovers take a long, lazy walk uttering half-truths and declarations and fears and desires. Jesse and Celine (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) have an easy, sexy chemistry that makes them eminently watchable. Before Sunset is funnier than Sunrise, and more romantic than Midnight—plus, the views of Paris are to die for.”
Hunter Harris, associate editor at New York Magazine’s Vulture

“Being Canadian, I relish the summer—a long winter gives me an heightened appreciation of just how great these (fleeting!) months are. And, being based between Toronto and Paris, I think these are two of the best cities to bask in all that summer offers: long days, warm nights, a slowing down of time. But, ultimately, sorry to The 6ix, because Paris wins (especially when it comes to vacation time!). A film that really captures how wonderful these months in the French capital can be is Before Sunset. Directed by Richard Linklater, this second installment in the Before trilogy picks up nine years after Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) spent one night together in Vienna. Almost a decade later, they get a second chance to see what could be—but only for a few hours, as Jesse has to catch his plane.

Some of Paris’ iconic milieus make the backdrop for their reunion—and, fun fact, the film was shot in only 15 days during an intense heatwave. It’s a perfect summer film for me as it features the joys of wandering and talking. And, given that I’m a hopeless romantic, it perfectly captures the dreamy reality that is being in love in the hottest months in Paris.”
Kiva Reardon, international programmer for Toronto International Film Festival and Miami Film Festival and the founding editor of Cléo Journal

American Graffiti (1973)

“Set in Modesto, California on the last day of summer vacation in 1962, American Graffiti is a quintessential classic. The film, directed by a 28-year-old George Lucas, captures the highs and lows of summer that everyone can relate to: friendships, love, laughs, and more. American Graffiti tells the story of two friends, Steve and Curt (played by Ron Howard and Richard Dreyfuss), who spend their last day of freedom before heading off to college cruising around town in a hot rod as they contemplate their futures. Bonus: a young Harrison Ford as eye candy doesn’t hurt.”
Michelle Buchman, freelance film writer and social media manager for Nerdist

Wendy and Lucy (2008)

“Nothing says ‘summer’ like a great road movie, and Wendy and Lucy checks the box — a film about best friends, adventure, and the strangers you meet along the way. It’s also unlike any road movie you’ve ever seen: the best friend is a yellow lab, the car breaks down, and Wendy is forced to wander the streets of Somewhere, Oregon, trying to scrape together the money to continue on to Alaska. Director Kelly Reichardt is a master of subtlety, making this a rewarding rewatch—or the perfect film to break out for the first time when the summer rains come, melancholy and wild, to keep you stuck indoors.”
Jeva Lange, culture critic for The Week

Now & Then (1995)

“Now And Then had it all. Christina Ricci, Thora Birch, and Gaby Hoffman. Plot lines about boob growth, aging, and seances. Jokes about gender inequality, sexuality, and dicks. The only thing it didn’t have was a remotely diverse cast, which, considering it was made in 1995 and set in 1970, is unforgivable. But, if you were willing to overlook that cultural affront in your tween years, which I was, you’ll have a special place in your heart for this movie.”
Jerico Mandybur, editorial director (and resident cinephile) at Girlboss