A dig for that summer-movie moola—that’s what a summer movie in theatres is mostly about, folks. That heated action shit with the potential to ruin and make entire studios. The summer movie comes in with gloves off like Stephen Spielberg’s Minority Report. It feeds off of prequels and sequels like Terminator 2. Beyond that though, a summer movie can also take place during summer and generally feel like summer-y because I said so. This is my list. I’m not spending an entire listicle going over every Marvel movie under the sun, so deal with it.
Here’s my listing of some of the best summer movies you can watch on Netflix Canada.
All things Marvel
Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane. Yeah, it’s a plane. Money-making Marvel isn’t the flying cape-wearing dude in spandex type. They’ve opted for the grounded, over caffeinated (Iron Man), wise-cracking foot soldiers with abilities types, and the selections are plenty. If you’re feeling that good ol’ American way shit, it’s Joe Johnston’s Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) and Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014) directed by the Russo Brothers. If you’ve got a thing for high-cheekbones (Benedict Cumberbatch), and a perfect chin to mustache ratio, Doctor Strange (2016) is your sorcerer supreme. And then of course there’s our favourite fictional, grumpy ass Canadian with adamantium claws, Logan aka Wolverine (Hugh Jackman).
Do the Right Thing
Nothing can kickstart the volatile and vivid microcosm of systematic racism like a hot ass day. Your moist skin can’t catch a break, the air smells like a wet dog in oil, and some pizza man on the other end of the race spectrum is ordering you to turn your music off? Fight! Yes, there’s more to Spike Lee’s 1989 masterpiece than a shouting match between Giancarlo Esposito and Danny Aiello, but it’s still the one moment that provoked a debate about race relations in America. And then there’s that Rosie Parez’ intro dance which is an easy top five all time.
From a time before George “prequel” Lucas began second-guessing himself, Lucas sketched out a memory of growing up in an early sixties California through American Graffiti. In this coming-of-age teen comedy for a particular white boy (I assume) of that age, we get a couple of high school grads who spend a night driving along the California strip with their buds. Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Harrison Ford and Charles Martin Smith, this one stands as a classic over its portrait of rock ‘n’ roll cruising—a generation, I again, know absolutely nothing about.
This is the product of a blazed-out comment that went something like this: “Bro, what if this hotdog I’m eating was self-aware man, and man, what if I didn’t even fucking know it?” That’s the spirit of Seth Rogen’s CGI animated Sausage Party, which leaves one wondering if the whole damn thing was a hallucination—the premise is way too fucked up not to be. Voiced by an army of supremely talented actors (Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, James Franco, Michael Cera and Michael Cera among others), our story speaks of a poor Frank who discovers the horrifying truth…he’s actually a juicy hotdog meant for human consumption, and he along with other perishable victims must come up with a plan to escape the murderous humans. Sounds delicious.
Remember when you were a kid once and you had a teddy bear named Cuddles or some shit? And you watched that family fun movie called Home Alone starring Macaulay Culkin that made you laugh? All was right in the world, so you spot this My GIrl movie by director Howard Zief , that also stars Macaulay Culkin. Cool. You pop that bitch in, give it a watch, and by the end you’re wrecked, you’ve torn Cuddles to shreds, you’re downing month old Cheerios and you've become a jaded film critic. I won’t spoil anything but just know that Harry and Marv should have used bees...
The Parent Trap
Ah, a time when Lindsay Lohan was still adorable, Disney owned, and untainted by the scum of humanity like other fallen mouseketeers. This is just your typical sweet-natured, cherry top of a 1961 remake by director Nancy Meyers. Newcomer Lindsay Lohan stars as her own long lost twin through the magic of clever cuts and a split screen technique. One American twin and the other British accidently ruinite when they just happen to attend the same summer camp and decide to do a whole switcharoo on their parents (Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson). Sorta feels like the same switcharoo applied to her career.
The World’s End
Five fortysomething year old Brit losers decide to complete some unfinished business. Almost sounds like the future preview of a veteran journalist—alcoholic, aging groups of fuck ups at a midlife crisis as they party like it’s 1990 (Simon Pegg, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, and Paddy Considine). This was director Edgar Wright’s final passage into the “Cornetto Trilogy” which began with Shaun of the Dead in 2004, and continued on with Hot Fuzz. There’s often something weird injected into these stories of family and friendship, so just picture the above, insert an alien invasion as a plot device, and you’ve got a movie taking on surprisingly serious matters without forgetting any of the funny.
Let me just say this: I’m allergic to this romance in the rain trend. I in fact blame this movie (and not Spiderman) for convincing hopeless romantics out there that the two go together like frost on oreos. It doesn’t work. You’ve got poor Ryan Gosling with his southern gentility, deep blue eyes and symmetrical face. And then there’s the perfect girl next door Rachel McAdams who falls in love with the poor, but still perfect Gosling. Only these two specimens can rekindle love in some damp ass rain. Either way, this is a Nick Cassavetes directed film that gets quoted to this day, so I assume it did something right for someone.
So here’s how this goes: In the future, you’ve got a cop (Tom Cruise) involved in a controversial “pre-crime division” of Washington DC, that use “precogs” to catch killers before they kill. Turns out that something happens because you know, plot. Things become corrupt, and my man Cruise has to find a way out of the situation. It’s about as clever as taking that thing that cops sometimes do with black folk today, but with a futuristic spin. This stands as a great summer-ish piece of science fiction before Steven Spielberg began to rely on existing franchises to find success (yeah I said it).
The Karate Kid
The difference between the original Ralph Macchio/Pat Morita 1984 martial arts underdog story and the 2010 remake is a difference between 1984 and 2010. Gone is the need to take this over to Beijing for authenticity, this one is set in Los Angeles where it belongs. Pat Morita remains the Oscar-nominated and unorthodox “wax on, wax off” trainer over the transitional Jackie Chan, and the lovable Ralph Macchio is still the best bullied underdog instead of Jaden ‘I can't act’ Smith (they should have cast Willow).
Gimme The Loot
What makes this one feel like summer? The freedom, the style and the struggle. Director Adam Leon’s debut feature has an energy of something different for an independent film. It doesn’t go for the overly quirky or stylish, it’s just stubborn in its plainness which simply works. Plotwise, it’s two young New York hustling graffiti bombers (who tag entire areas) in the 1980s who come up with an idea to get back at the Mets fans who’ve been painting over their art. The idea? To stealth their way into Citi Field and spray a message on a certain big apple. From there, it becomes a story about that process of accomplishing something stupid that still seemed so smart when you were a teen.
Thank you Disney and Lee Unkrich. Thank you for gutting my intestines with a dirty rusty knife. Felt real good. A story about death? Prettying up the topic with flashy colours and cute CGI doesn’t make it any less gutting. Yes, this movie about a young Miguel started out warm. What could go wrong with a discussion around family generations, music, and the hope that your hidden talents can be cultivated? Everything. What did you think would happen to my heart when you decided to set this in the Land of the Dead anyway? It’s an amazing movie but please prepare yourself and your young ones.
30 Minutes or Less
Imagine this movie pitch: Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) is a pizza dude who delivers pizza in 30 minutes or less. Two dudes (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) strap a bomb to our friend Nick and force him to rob a bank in, you guessed it, 30 minutes or less. At this point you’d be right in assuming that this whole Ruben Fleischer lead comedy was just an excuse for laughs that come with a cholesterol-filled side of raunchy.
Who knew that to kick your habit from being a sleep-around heroin dabbler with low self-esteem in 1995 took taking a hike to the Pacific Crest Trail by yourself for a 1,100 damn mile trek. To hell with getting a therapist, I guess. Reese Witherspoon with the help of a decent script by Nick Hornby somehow put a dent in the idea that professional help is the only way. All those feel good feelings around triumph and the human spirit? It’s all here.
Bad Boys II
Bad Boys II has all that you can ever want from some good ol’ 90s war against drugs through film. Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, loud sounds, violence, sexist shit, racist shit, misogynistic shit, and some sprinkles of homophobic rhetoric. Oh and lame Michael Bay explosions before they became a memeable comedy bit. If that doesn’t sound like summer, I don’t know what does.
Oh that pre-2000 moment when our anxieties over AI stood unpolluted by all this. We were so gullible then. James Cameron and his team devised a liquid metal robot that would walk through metal bars and transform into any damn thing and people lost their shit. It was hard to imagine a more deadly killing machine, though Arnold Schwarzenegger, who played the less advanced machine tasked with protecting some John Connor kid (Edward Furlong) and his mom Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) who would save the world from human-killing robots of the future, was tasked with destroying it. Hell, I’d say watch this summer-ish blockbuster again just to stare at Robert Patrick’s perfect stride. It still holds up today.
Something terrible is happening in Australia—people are turning into flesh-craving, pus-spewing zombies and it has nothing to do with Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles . A guy (Martin Freeman), his baby and his wife wander the outback on the hunt for some shelter and safety. Then something bad happens with mommy, and daddy has to take baby and make his way past a series of criminal weirdos way worse than the folks in Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles. Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke directed something scary here.
Friends with Benefits
This movie is actually funny, in that umpteenth movie about a guy and a girl who say they’re in it for just sex but it sorta just goes wrong...sort of way (see No Strings Attached). Director Will Gluck wrote this complex unearthing about a guy (Justin Timberlake) and a girl (Mila Kunis) who try to keep a relationship physical but discover that it can lead to complications. DUH!
She’s Gotta Have It (1968)
When Spike Lee first premiered this one at the Cannes Film Festival in ‘89 it helped change the way an independent film could reveal perspectives around blackness. Multi-layered relationships between black women and a variation of black men had never been realized to that degree before—just Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) cataloguing her three different relationships in filmic form and the feelings each personality evoked. Yes, it had its own problematic moment, but it still sits as one of Spike Lee’s best.
Yes, a lot of masculine men of prime toxicity will claim to not like musicals. Don’t come to this movie thinking that Hairspray can change that. John Travolta rocks a wonderful dress, and everyone is so damn happy and pleasant in their ability to have bundles of fun in this one. Pleasantly plus-sized Nikki Blonsky does an especially great job of teaching a 1962 Baltimore about integration though song and a game show, but either way, it’s a fun watch for those who aren’t afraid of feeling a little gay.
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