By Lukas Eggen
With “Man of Steel” playing at the Central Theater, I got into a lively debate with a friend on what was our favorite summer movie of all time. Here are the ones that are some of my favorites. As a note, these are all newer films as I’m only counting ones I had the chance to see in theaters, so yes films like the original Star Wars are out and so are films like “Saving Private Ryan” because, while it is a great film, it’s not your normal summer fare and I didn’t get to see it in theaters because I was too young at the time.
The first two films I’d say are on my list are “Wall E” and “Toy Story 3” and those two would probably be among my favorite films of all time. “Wall E”, with little dialogue for the first half hour of the film, is both an engaging and funny for children and alarmingly topical for adults. It’s also quite sweet and charming without ever going too cheesy. It’s a science fiction film that the whole family can enjoy on numerous different levels. This is Pixar at its peak, creating a piece of art that crosses age and gender lines.
Now, “Toy Story 3” might be more of a sentimental choice. I grew up with the Toy Story films. Indeed when the third film hit theaters, I was in college, just like Andy was about to be. I also grew up in a generation (and perhaps the last generaiton if you think about it) where toys still ruled and electronics were an expensive luxury. I was a Toy Story fan. I had the Woody and Buzz action figures. I watched the original movie countless times when I was younger.
Much like “Wall E” before it, it blended surprisingly adult themes like dealing with abandonment, learning to let go and say good bye, etc. while being an enjoyable romp for younger audiences.
It was an emotional ride. The last scene before the credits is about as perfect an ending as I’ve ever seen for one of the best trilogies ever and one that celebrated what it meant to grow up while still not letting go of your inner child.
The superhero movie genre is alive and well. It was 2002’s “Spider-Man” that really kicked it into high gear when it earned more than $400 million. But it was “Spider-Man 2” that is still not only the best Spidey film, but is the example of how a Superhero film should work. There’s humor, action and spectacle to please everyone. But the real key here is Tobey Maguire.
His performance as Peter Parker is spot on and we see someone struggling with real life issues, whether it’s with his job, his relationship with his family or with Mary Jane.
This might be the most controversial choice on my list, but “The Matrix: Reloaded”. I don’t care what anyone says, I love these movies. Before its release, I couldn’t wait for this film. I built it up so much that there was no way it could meet my expectations. And I was right. It surpassed them. It was a smart movie that provoked discussions while being one heck of a thrill ride with one of the greatest car chase scenes ever put on film and some epic fight scenes.
“Moonrise Kingdom” is the most recent movie on my list. Anyone who knows Wes Anderson’s films knows to expect offbeat humor with a surprising amount of charm. The movie is downright hilarious, the casting, which includes Edward Norton as a Scout Leader, is spot on. Also, “Midnight in Paris” from Woody Allen is a very sweet and quirky Indie film worth checking out.
“Collateral” is one of the coolest, most intense and smartest crime films I’ve ever seen. This is Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx arguably at their absolute best. It’s a simple premise, two men in a cab riding from spot to spot. But the film gives off a cool vibe and proves you don’t need lots of guns blazing all the time to make a great crime film. Also, I was torn and nearly included “The Italian Job”, the new version, on this list as well, which is well worth checking out.
There’s been a lot of summer comedies over the years. If you’re looking for an R-rated comedy, I’d go with “Bridesmaids” or “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”. Both are raunchy, but unlike films like “Superbad” or “Bad Teacher”, there’s geunine heart and charm at the film’s core too. For more tame comedies, I still find “Dodgeball” to be one of the best sports comedies, and comedies in general, that I’ve ever seen.
There are, of course, a lot more movies I could, and probably wish, I could include on this list. But here are a few movies from summers past that I don’t think you can go wrong with.
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