Perfect Summer Movies for Everyone To Enjoy

In the summertime, Americans love family vacations, extra daylight hours, movie theater trips to see the latest blockbusters, and watching their favorite films at home. But no matter the season, plenty of movies get an audience in the mood. From beloved classics to modern releases, find here perfect summer movies that anyone can enjoy.

1. Elizabethtown (2005)

Elizabethtown Kirsten Dunst, Orlando Bloom
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

A lovely look at life, love, death, friendship, and family, Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown features his distinct storytelling style and a great deal of heart, tears, and laughs. After causing a significant fiasco and losing his company nearly a billion dollars, Drew Baylor comes close to ending it all.

But then, he gets a call that his father has passed away when visiting his brother in the small town of Elizabethtown, Kentucky. While visiting his father's hometown, Drew is met with an unexpected outpouring of affection from various family members and friends, showcasing that age-old Southern hospitality and humor you often find in these small towns.

Drew's grief and stress find a ray of sunshine in the cheerful flight attendant Claire, whom he meets and then befriends during an all-night phone call that changes their lives forever.

As Claire and Drew grow closer, she admits she often feels like “The substitute person.” At the same time, he opens up about his monumental failure. 

Elizabethtown shows how miracles happen everywhere if people learn to look past failures and lean into love. Crowe's particular style of dialogue, incredible soundtrack, and mandolin-infused folksy score from his wife, Nancy Wilson, creates a profound summertime romance.

2. 50 First Dates (2004)

50 First Dates Drew Barrymore
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Out of Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore's three romantic comedies together, the sweetest is this perfect-for-summer, Hawaiian-based tale. When Henry meets Lucy at a restaurant one day, the two are instantly smitten, giving Henry hope that he has finally found his dream girl.

But when he sees her again the next day, she does not remember meeting him. He discovers that Lucy suffers from short-term memory loss after getting into a horrible car accident years before. With the help of her caring father and brother and the compassionate locals, they shield Lucy from the truth as she keeps reliving the same day, every single day.

Instead of running from this impediment, Henry decides to try to make Lucy fall in love with him daily, making this a unique and surprisingly touching film. Featuring Sandler's typical brand of comedy, 50 First Dates stands out with moving moments of steadfast devotion and commitment and stunning Hawaiian locations. A breezy summer rom-com can always lift the spirits.

3. Gidget (1959)

Gidget Sandra Dee
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

The quintessential classic summer film, Gidget follows the misadventures of Francie Lawrence, a.k.a “Gidget,” and her surfing buddies “Moondoggie” and the “Big Kahuna” during one very wild and memorable summer. Francie wants to learn to surf instead of flirt with boys like her friends until she completely flips for one of her fellow surfing enthusiasts.

Capitalizing on the surfing lifestyle craze of the “Endless Summer” era, this early 60s old-fashioned fun features surprisingly poignant, innocent, and sensitive looks at love, broken hearts, and learning to find your place in the world. Anyone looking for a classic beach film both light-hearted and thoughtful, Gidget will do the trick.

4. On an Island With You (1948) and Easy To Love (1953)

easy to love
Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Ester Williams, a champion swimmer skilled at water ballet and synchronized swimming, creates distinct movies. Unlike other classic MGM musicals, her films feature lovely, sometimes elaborate aquatic sequences, both technical feats and delightful to watch.

On An Island With You follows a movie star filming in Hawaii. Ricardo Montalban co-stars as her leading man in life and the movie she's making, while Peter Lawford is the Navy Lieutenant hired as a technical consultant, who's been pining for her since they met years before.

This film also stars the wonderfully droll Jimmy Durante, talented Xavier Cugat, and beautiful Cyd Charisse, who shares some exquisite dances with Montalban. With a tropical paradise as a lovely setting and sweet and funny romantic entanglements that are happily resolved, On An Island With You is a frothy treat.

In Easy To Love, Esther trades in Hawaii for beautiful Cypress Gardens, Florida, as the overworked aquatic performer who does everything from pose for pictures with tourists to star in a spectacular water skiing show. She complains to her boss, Ray (Van Johnson), daily but, in truth, hopes he will one day realize that he loves her as much as she loves him. Of course, he may lose that chance when she turns the head of a sophisticated nightclub singer (Tony Martin) she meets on a trip to New York.

The charming actors, lovely songs, and enthralling water skiing aquatic finale make Easy to Love a carefree, sun-kissed summertime joy.

5. Roman Holiday (1953)

Roman Holiday Audrey Hepburn
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

In Audrey Hepburn's first starring role, for which she won the Best Actress Academy Award, she stars as Princess Ann, who embarks on a goodwill tour throughout Europe. During her stop in Rome, she runs away from her royal duties, frustrated and overwhelmed with every moment of her life decided for her.

She meets a handsome and kind reporter (Gregory Peck) who doesn't let on that he knows who she truly is and offers to give her a proper “Roman Holiday” and do whatever she wants all day.

The simplest things bring her joy, such as a new haircut, delicious gelato, gallivanting on a Vespa, and the story of the Mouth of Truth. And love inevitably blossoms.

Thanks to Hepburn and Peck's affable performances and understated chemistry, Roman Holiday has no shortage of charm and classic romance. Most of all, the lovely locales and adventures through Rome give us all the desire for an Italian summer holiday.

6. To Catch a Thief (1955)

to catch a thief
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock's lightest and most romantic mystery, To Catch a Thief, stars Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. A former jewel thief, Grant desperately wants to prove his innocence after several robberies feature all his trademarks. Kelly is the daughter of one of another potential victim.

To Catch a Thief employs more subdued mystery and suspense, emphasizing the developing, often subtly amusing relationship between Grant and Kelly. Still, there's intrigue and Hitchcock's unique style. Grant is debonair as always, Kelly is effortlessly beautiful and stylish, and the stunning setting of the French Riviera provides a gorgeous backdrop for the story.

7. Some Like It Hot (1959)

Some Like it Hot Marilyn Monroe
Image Credit: United Artists.

Writer/director Billy Wilder's brilliant comedy follows two men who witness a mob hit during the St. Valentine's Day massacre in Chicago. These two musicians (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) flee for their lives, escaping notice by disguising themselves as women and joining an all-female jazz band.

Hilarity ensues as Curtis' Joe falls for ukulele player Sugar (a luminous Marilyn Monroe) as he takes on another persona of a Shell Oil tycoon who owns a yacht and talks like Cary Grant. Meanwhile, Lemmon's Jerry tries to stop the advances of an older, wealthy gentleman to hilarious results.

A master class in comedy, Wilder brilliantly blends the intelligent and witty with the wacky and outlandish. Likewise, he tosses in a good deal of romance for good measure. 

8. The Music Man (1962)

The Music Man Shirley Jones, Robert Preston
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

A slice of turn-of-the-century Americana, Meredith Wilson's musical tells the story of Professor Harold Hill (Robert Preston reprising his Broadway role). This likable con man could charm the birds from the trees.

When Harold stops in River City, Iowa, he attempts his “forming a marching band con.” But this proves challenging when met with stubborn townsfolk, none more so than the kind but cautious librarian, Marian (Shirley Jones). Still, he charms his way into their hearts until his past catches up. Then, Harold discovers the biggest con he was pulling was on himself. 

The Music Man's lively and colorful musical sequences will sound familiar to anyone who has ever stepped foot on Main Street in a Disney Park. The exquisite production design and sumptuous costumes of gauzy gowns, seersucker suits, and straw hats give this summer-set musical a rich, old-fashioned charm.

9. Pollyanna (1960)

Pollyanna Hayley Mills
Image Credit: Buena Vista Distribution.

Speaking of turn-of-the-century Americana, this heartfelt and wholesome film turns the sentimental children's novel into an introspective, believable, and uplifting movie.

Featuring an impressive cast that includes Hayley Mills, Jane Wyman, Agnes Moorhead, Adolph Menjou, and Karl Malden, Pollyanna tells the story of a young orphan who comes to live with her wealthy Aunt Polly Harrington in the town named after her family.

Polly's influence and affluence are everywhere in Harrington, even in the Sunday sermons, which are frightening instead of uplifting. When Pollyanna comes into their lives, her positivity and ability to look on the bright side of things with her “Glad Game” changes the hearts and minds of the complacent and bitter townsfolk. She teaches them to smile, believe in each other, and hope again, something they return to her when she needs it the most.

10. Summer Magic (1963)

summer magic
Image Credit: Buena Vista Distribution.

Summer Magic is another Disney film featuring a bygone era and Hayley Mills. One of the most apropos films to watch during the season, the story follows the Carey family, nearly destitute after the death of their father.

Learning to find happiness again, eldest Nancy inquires about the beautiful Yellow House she remembers seeing as a child on a family trip to the small town of Beulah, Maine. Soon, the family moves in, and what follows are sweet misadventures, laughs, and heartfelt moments of optimistic Nancy, middle child musician Gilbert, youngest boy Peter, and their pretentious cousin Julia, who comes to stay with them.

Moreover, Burl Ives gives a tender performance as the big-hearted local general store owner Ossiam Popham, who humorously has let the Careys move in without the far away owner of the Yellow House's permission.

11. Stand By Me (1986)

Stand By Me River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Wil Wheaton, Jerry O'Connell
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

A truly poignant and touching film, Rob Reiner's Stand By Me follows four teenage boys who embark on a journey to find the body of a local boy who went missing and is presumed dead.

Coming from homes with parents who range from violent to distant and unloving, the four misfits discover the value of friendship, bravery, determination, and staying true to oneself along the way. Although it is a serious film, the look at the summer days of the 1950s is rich and filled with moments of humor. The four young co-stars, River Phoenix, Will Wheaton, Jerry O'Connell, and Corey Feldman, also give exceptional performances.

12. Now and Then (1995)

Now and Then Christina Ricci Thora Birch Gabby Hoffman Ashleigh Aston Moore
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

Many call Now and Then the teenage girl version of Stand By Me, and rightly so. This film set in the 1970s features equally poignant moments for the four young girls dealing with the joys and pangs of adolescence and parents who have died, are divorcing, or completely neglect them.

Like Stand By Me, the girls decide to find out the truth about the murder of a young boy and his mother, a tragedy that shook the small town many years before. Likewise, the movie has no shortage of hilarious and fun-filled moments…many tear-inducing scenes.

 13. The Sandlot (1993)

The Sandlot Brandon Quintin Adams, Victor DiMattia, Grant Gelt, Tom Guiry, Chauncey Leopardi, Shane Obedzinski, Patrick Renna, Mike Vitar, Marty York
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

The Sandlot follows a group of young boys who spend their summer days playing baseball and learning about themselves. They get into the “biggest pickle of their lives” when the awkward newbie Smalls unknowingly uses a baseball signed by the legendary Babe Ruth for their game.

The ball is hit into the backyard next door by their best player, Bennie, and they are too scared to retrieve it because of the large dog residing there they call “the Beast.” With a 1960s setting, this coming-of-age tale is hilarious and heartfelt for those who play or can appreciate America's pastime.

It's also a foregone conclusion that anyone who watches this film will try to replicate the moment when the fireworks dazzle them all, and “America, the Beautiful” by Ray Charles plays in the background. Also, for fans of The Sandlot, the line “You're killing me, Smalls” and tasty smores go hand in hand. 

14. The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants Films (2005, 2008)

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Over two summers, best friends Tibby, Carmen, Lena, and Bridget part and come back together again. The four very different young deal with loss, love, broken hearts, family issues, and finding their place in the world while remaining true to the women they are becoming and their friendships.

After finding a pair of jeans that miraculously fits them all, they share them and send them to each other during their summers apart. Lovely and artistic Lena (Alesis Bledel) travels to sun-kissed, blissful Santorini, Greece, where she unexpectedly finds love. But she must see if that love is forever when she expands her artistry at summer school.

Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) discovers the preciousness of life while trying to make a documentary and befriends a young girl with cancer, then deals with relationship woes and the fear of truly loving someone. Carmen (America Ferrera) must learn to open up to her father, who has found himself another family, and then to stand up for herself when attending a dramatic summer school.

And Bridget (Blake Lively) grieves the loss of her mother, realizes the pain of rushing into a physical relationship, and reconnects with a long-lost grandmother.

15. Pirates of The Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl (2003)

Pirates of the Caribbean The Curse of the Black Pearl
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures.

The first and best installment in the wildly successful franchise harkens back to old-fashioned swashbuckling adventures of the past. The traditional character and story beats include a pirate siege of a town, a kidnapped girl, and the dashing hero who vows to rescue her, with the characters of Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom).

But the film gives us both a classic and more modern adventure, subverting our expectations. There is a supernatural twist involving cursed pirates. The not-so-damsel in distress, Elizabeth, may be kidnapped and scared but is also brave, forceful, and enamored with the excitement of piracy.

Will is the traditional hero willing to do what is right no matter the cost. And most significantly, there's Captain Jack Sparrow, brought to life in a way only Johnny Depp can, making Jack equally clever, cunning, hilarious, and offbeat. You never know where his allegiances lie, making him endlessly fascinating, especially with his repartee with other characters, including the villainous Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).

The adventures and twists in this film, performances, characters, stunning locations of the Caribbean, incredible special effects, and rousing score make Pirates of the Caribbean the perfect fun-filled but captivating summer adventure flick.

16. Independence Day (1996)

Independence Day
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

A perfect adventure film, this alien invasion chiller takes place in the heat of summer on the fourth of July, America's Independence Day- a day the world proclaims and wins its independence from galactic invaders.

The film follows various characters: the President of the United States (Bill Pullman), an arrogant but gifted Marine fighter Pilot (Will Smith), and a brilliant satellite engineer (Jeff Goldblum). 

Independence Day may undeniably be a cheesy popcorn flick–something tasty that leaves an audience feeling good and satisfied.

17. Jaws (1975)

jaws 1
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

In many ways, the first film of its kind, Jaws, embodies what we now call the “summer blockbuster.” Steven Spielberg's film is for those looking for thrills, frights, and strong characters. And Jaws is one of the greatest ever. Masterful in dramatic tension, with an iconic score by John Williams, Spielberg gives us a tale of the peaceful beach town of Amity in Long Island, New York, suddenly plagued by killer shark attacks. 

The story follows Sherriff Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) as he attempts to handle the situation and keep residents and visitors safe, clashing with the foolish Mayor, who is more concerned with money and tourism. Brody teams up with a marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) to hunt down this shark and stop the vicious attacks. 

Although the attacks may not be accurate to life, it still feels authentic in emotion, making Jaws both an exciting and grounded summer thriller.

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

I Know What You Did Last Summer
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Anyone searching for a summer horror film, look no further than I Know What You Did Last Summer. The first of the franchise offers the types of chills and thrills you expect from a teen slasher film.

The movie follows a group of friends, Julie, Helen, Ray, and Barry, on the eve of their high school graduation. A tragic accident occurs when they accidentally hit a man while driving too fast on a winding road. The four foolishly dump the body in the ocean, vowing never to speak of the incident again.

But after a year of pretending that night did not exist, Julie receives a note saying, “I know what you did last summer.” She returns home to find her friends have not been the same since. Soon, the man seemingly returns from the grave and terrorizes them.

Featuring an excellent cast including Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., and Ryan Phillipe, this summer set film shows dangers lurking behind the fun festivities, and it's terrifically terrifying.

Marianne Paluso is a freelance writer and artist and holds a Masters Degree in English and Children’s Literature. Inspired by her favorite films, television, theme parks and all things pop culture, she especially loves Disney, classic films, fairy tales, period dramas, musicals, adventures, mysteries, and a good rom-com. She joined Wealth of Geeks in 2021, and has also contributed to The Nerd Machine, Catholic News Agency. She writes on her own website, creates art that is sold on Redbubble and Etsy, and also partakes in the occasional Disneybound, cosplay, and YouTube video