In my family, we have few traditions. We're not very religious and don't put a lot of stock in holidays or birthdays. We're what people call low-key. But, when it comes to movies, we have a set regimen of what to watch during each season (A Charlie Brown Christmas and Peter and the Wolf are some classics always airing between December 14th and January 2nd). Summer, for us, has always been about sci-fi, big action movies like Avengers or Jurassic Park.
In case your family doesn't have any movies lined up, here are five classics that are sure-fire fun and easy movies to watch on those warm summer nights.
1. "Jaws" (1975)
There is — and I cannot stress this enough — a more iconic, classic summer movie than the original Jaws. For my family, it's on every Fourth of July in our house. If you've been living on another planet your entire life, Jaws is a straightforward, typical '70s movie. In the town of Amity, a shark attack is recorded right before the Fourth of July, then another, and another.
This wouldn't be a problem except most of Amity's revenue comes from the summer visitors who come for the parade and beautiful summertime beaches. The mayor enlists the police chief, a marine biologist and the captain of the Orca to hunt down the monster in the sea. Outdated? Yes. Corny? Absolutely. But that's what makes it fantastic.
2. "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977)
This is the movie that solidified both Steven Spielberg as a director and aliens as a genre all their own. A blue-collar worker in Indiana is the cornerstone of a puzzle that stretches across the Sonoran Desert, the contiguous United States and the Bermuda Triangle, all connected by encounters with a UFO. Weird clay models and creepy kids and a mothership who's bottom is actually a city at night? I think yes.
3. "Independence Day" (1996)
I mean, duh. Yes, they came out with a second one. No, watch this one twice instead. Will Smith and deadly aliens and the destruction of New York all star in Independence Day, which is your classic, brain-candy alien invasion movie. CGI has come pretty freakin' far since 1996, but this movie still holds its own. Also, not hearing probably one of the best-known monologues in cinematic history, given by the President, should be a war crime.
4. "Men in Black" (1997)
More aliens! More Will Smith! Are you sensing a pattern? Unlike the others on the list — all dramas — Men in Black is pure comedy, so whacked out it's almost impossible to describe. Basically, Will Smith is the new guy on the job with a mentor in Tommy Lee Jones, all fine and good except they work for the Men in Black, a secret organization that deals with the (seemingly countless) aliens hiding on Earth. In this one, at least, New York isn't destroyed, but inhabited by Frank the Pug, giant cockroach aliens disguised as humans and a squid baby.
No, context doesn't help explain it. Just watch it.
5. "Mad Max: Fury Road" (2015)
While Fury Road is the fourth installment in the franchise, you don't need to watch the other three. Notoriously sour Rotten Tomatoes gave this one a 96%, for the amazing CGI, fast-paced action and remarkably good character building. The story, like the others, takes place in a post-apocalyptic, water-deprived desert Australia. Imperator Furiosa, a deputy behind Immortan Joe (who's an ugly, white, sex-trafficking, scummy dictator over his Citadel), has stolen five of Joe's "wives" (slaves) in her rig and is trying to escape when her path crosses with the captured Max Rockatansky.
Cool cars, Tom Hardy, insane stunts and hard-hitting feminist notes make this a good movie to watch with your mom and a great one for girl's night.
While we could bicker over the "best" movies to watch during the summer until the sweet tea is gone, these are simply a good place to start. Classics and newbies both have their merits. And hey, there's always new Hollywood blockbusters to spend a ludicrous amount of money on to watch in theaters.