Best Summer Movies and Series to Stream Over Memorial Day Weekend
Although it might not feel like it this year, summer is just around the corner. Get into the spirit of warm weather and long, lazy days with some of these classics available to stream.
By Tara Ariano May 19, 2020
Around this time last year, I made a list of 10 streaming movies with which to ring in the summer, and I stand by it. For a new year, I have a new list—also including a few TV series—of summery titles you can stream to give you a summery feeling even if you can’t actually get out and work on your tan just yet. And if spending the Memorial Day weekend in quarantine has you bitter about the season and you’d rather feel schadenfreude instead, I’ve also included a few picks that revolve around summer vacations that went very badly wrong.
Dani (Florence Pugh) is so shattered after her sister kills herself and their parents that she seizes on an offhand, insincere invitation from her boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor)—who’d been iplanning to break up with her before this crisis—and joins him and his friends on a trip to Sweden. Their Swedish friend Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren) is eager to bring them to the commune where he grew up for the midsummer celebration, which occurs only once every 90 years—possibly because it takes that long for everyone in the community to recover from the trauma.
Skate Kitchen (2018)
After suffering a skateboarding injury, Long Island teen Camille (Rachelle Vinberg) promises her mother she’s going to give up the sport. But when she sees that Skate Kitchen, a collective of female skaters, is holding a meetup in sun-dappled New York City, she travels in and quickly makes friends. She can’t keep the secret for long, and falling out with her mother enmeshes her further with the skaters, for good and ill. (If you like it, the show has spawned a spin-off series, Betty, currently airing on HBO.)
Girls Trip (2017)
Ryan (Regina Hall) isn’t quite as close to her friends Dina (Tiffany Haddish), Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith), and Sasha (Queen Latifah) since college, so she invites them all to join her at the Essence Music Festival, where she is to deliver a keynote speech. They’ve just arrived when Sasha, a gossip blogger, receives a tip about Ryan’s seemingly perfect husband cheating on her; Ryan knows and is concealing it for the sake of her brand, but her friends’ eagerness to throw down on her behalf keeps causing chaos throughout their weekend together.
The Shallows (2016)
Nancy (Blake Lively) decides to honor the memory of her late mother with a trip to a remote Mexican beach her mother visited while she was pregnant with Nancy. An experienced surfer, Nancy spends several happy hours on the waves…until she’s on her way back into shore and a great white shark bumps her off her board and bites her on the leg. For the next several hours, Nancy fights for her life against the predator.
Below Deck (2014–)
For those rich enough to book an extremely posh vacation, but not to buy a yacht and maintain it year-round, chartering a yacht is the perfect solution. And while they’re up on the deck having their every whim catered to, a staff of highly trained professionals is making sure they want for nothing—and those are the stars of this long-running Bravo reality show.
Camp Getaway (2020–)
In the mold of Below Deck, this summer has brought a new series about luxury vacations. At the titular Camp Getaway, adults can recapture the summer-camp experience at a 300-acre resort in the Berkshires; Bravo’s cameras follow the counselors on-site to give the campers an unforgettable stay.
Gravity Falls (2012–2016)
This animated series features twins Dipper (voice of Jason Ritter) and Mabel (Kristen Schaal), who’ve been sent by their parents to spend their summer vacation with their great-uncle Stan (series creator Alex Hirsch) at his tourist trap, the Mystery Shack, in Gravity Falls, Oregon. The location actually is a nexus for supernatural phenomena, and adorable junior X-Files situations ensue.
Royal Pains (2009–2016)
One of USA’s sunniest “blue sky” shows, Royal Pains is set in the tony Hamptons resort region of Long Island, where Hank (Mark Feuerstein) works as a concierge doctor—basically, a medical professional paid fat retainers to be available on call to the wealthy visitors who summer in the area.
James (Jesse Eisenberg) plans to spend the summer of 1987—between undergrad and graduate school, for him—vacationing in Europe, until his parents spring the news that they can’t afford to send him on his trip and that he should plan to get a summer job. Bereft of real work experience, James is forced to accept a job running carnival games at Adventureland, a down-market amusement park, though he finds it a little more compelling after meeting his coworker Em (Kristen Stewart).
A Perfect Getaway (2009)
Cliff (Steve Zahn) and Cydney (Milla Jovovich), honeymooning in Hawaii, are on a hike when they fall in with another couple, Nick (Timothy Olyphant) and Gina (Kiele Sanchez). Their relations grow tense when they hear about the murder of another couple. Can they really trust each other?
My Summer of Love (2005)
Upper-class Tamsin (Emily Blunt), spending the summer in Yorkshire after her suspension from school, is out horseback riding when she chances to meet Mona (Natalie Press), a working-class orphan who lives with her only remaining relative: her straitlaced brother, Phil (Paddy Considine). As the two girls get to know each other and share increasingly intimate secrets, Mona risks everything by falling into a love affair with Tamsin.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)
Lifelong friends Bridget (Blake Lively), Carmen (America Ferrera), Lena (Alexis Bledel), and Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) are about to spend their first summer apart when they find a pair of jeans in a thrift store that miraculously fits all their very different bodies perfectly. Calling them the Traveling Pants, they decide to share them, and mail them to one another on their various far-flung adventures. A sequel followed in 2008, which is also available to stream.
Lilo & Stitch (2002)
Orphan Lilo (voice of Daveigh Chase) lives with her sister, Nani (Tia Carrere), on Kauai. Since Lilo has a hard time following rules or getting along with her classmates, Nani decides they should adopt a dog, but what Lilo finds at the shelter is actually an extremely intelligent if nonverbal alien who has even more talent for mayhem than Lilo. She names him Stitch, and the two of them proceed to get into all kinds of trouble as Stitch hides from the alien security forces determined to bring him in.
A Walk on the Moon (1999)
In the summer of 1969, Pearl (Diane Lane), her husband, Marty (Liev Schreiber), Marty’s mother, Lillian (Tovah Feldshuh), and Pearl and Marty’s kids travel to the Catskills to spend the season at a holiday camp. While Marty spends weekdays in New York City working at his TV repair shop, a bored Pearl is drawn to the “Blouse Man,” Walker Jerome (Viggo Mortensen), and their relationship deepens against the backdrop of the season’s two big events: the moon landing, and Woodstock.
A Very Brady Sequel (1996)
After the surprise success of The Brady Bunch Movie—an extremely meta affair in which the iconic ’70s sitcom family failed to fit into ’90s life, dotted with references to the beloved series—the sequel was inevitable. Carol (Shelley Long) is shocked when her first husband, Roy (Tim Matheson), returns—unrecognizable after reconstructive surgery following an accident—but Bobby (Jesse Lee) and Cindy (Olivia Hack) suspect his story; soon everyone is in Hawaii for the suspenseful conclusion.
The River Wild (1994)
Experienced river guide Gail (Meryl Streep) has long planned a rafting trip in Idaho with her son, Roarke (Joseph Mazzello), when, at the last minute, her husband, Tom (David Strathairn), decides to come along. On their first day, they meet a trio of rafters, but when they run into them a few hours later, only Wade (Kevin Bacon) and Terry (John C. Reilly) are left, claiming their friend hiked out after fighting with them. The two groups continue rafting together since Terry and Wade have no experience, but over time it becomes clear that the men aren’t to be trusted, and that the family is in serious danger.
Addams Family Values (1993)
In this sequel to 1991’s The Addams Family, Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) becomes infatuated with Debbie (Joan Cusack), the family’s new nanny, oblivious to her identity as a black widow serial killer. To head off a suspicious Wednesday (Christina Ricci), Debbie convinces Gomez (Raul Julia) and Morticia (Anjelica Huston) to send the older kids to summer camp, where Wednesday proceeds to wreak havoc.
Dazed and Confused (1993)
Nothing says “summer” more than the last day of school, which is when this film takes place—specifically, in 1976, in Austin, Texas. Loosed from their classrooms, rising seniors drive around town looking for incoming freshmen to haze, while the girls (separately) do likewise. The cast of then unknowns includes Parker Posey, Renée Zellweger, Milla Jovovich, Anthony Rapp, Adam Goldberg, Ben Affleck, and Matthew McConaughey.
The Man in the Moon (1991)
One of Reese Witherspoon’s earliest roles is in this drama set in the summer of 1957. Witherspoon plays Dani, a 14-year-old Louisiana girl on the verge of being too old to get away with her tomboyish pastimes. She’s skinny-dipping in a neighbor’s creek when she meets 17-year-old Court (Jason London). Though she finds Court extremely irritating at first, it doesn’t take long for Dani to realize he’s actually her first crush.
Cure yourself of any lingering yearning for the seaside by revisiting one of the greatest suspense films of all time, in which an extremely pushy great white shark can’t stop attacking swimmers on Amity Island. Content warning: The shortsighted Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton)—much less concerned with preserving human life than he is in keeping Amity open for business during a holiday weekend—may uncomfortably remind you of some public figures you’ve seen in the news of late, but you will not be able to stay mad at his anchor-print sport jacket.