As you can probably tell by now, I’m pretty pumped about summertime for someone who can’t stand the heat for more than five minutes. There’s a certain magic to it: kids are out of school, pools are opening up, fireworks are lighting up the sky and scaring my dog - you get the picture.
Anyway, this magic is probably the reason why so many great movies take place in the summertime - in particular, movies about the ins and outs of childhood. I love a good coming-of-age tale (who doesn’t?), and these movies are best watched with a group of good friends, no matter how far from childhood you may be.
Dazed and Confused (1993)
Expertly bridging the gap between comedy and drama, this story of teen life in mid-‘70s Texas follows a laundry list of young people: incoming freshman just trying to avoid the older kids’ hazing rituals, newly-christened seniors trying to find themselves in between failed beer blasts and torturing freshmen, and a sleazy older friend who graduated at least five years previous to the movie’s events but has a thing for high school girls (if you read that in Matthew McConaughey’s voice, I salute you). Their stories finally come together at a late-night graduation/last day of school party, during which romance blooms, punches are thrown, and no one gets home before curfew.
My Girl (1991)
The ‘70s were to the ‘90s what the ‘90s are to now, apparently. Is every generation obsessed with the one that occurred two decades before? Anyway, like Dazed and Confused, My Girl also takes place in the ‘70s, but that’s where the similarities end.
This film follows 11-year-old Vada, a hypochondriac with great fashion sense whose father owns and operates a funeral home - which, coincidentally, also serves as the family’s house. Her father refuses to entertain the idea that Vada’s quirks may have something to do with his occupation as well as his reluctance to discuss Vada’s mother, who died when Vada was a baby. However, Vada’s life does have its good points - particularly, her close friendship with the geeky but sweet Thomas J. and her father’s blossoming romance with Shelly, ultra-fashionable makeup artist to the deceased.
Over the summer, Vada takes a creative writing class, reads romance novels, and loses her mood ring. You probably know how it ends, but don’t let that prevent you from watching it.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Suzy and Sam, a pair of unhappy 12-year-olds, have a plan: they’ll pack their things, run away together, and get married. It’s the late summer of 1965 on a New England island, and things haven’t been going so well for the couple: Sam has been “asked not to come back” by yet another foster family and has been staying at Camp Ivanhoe where, despite his dedication to the Khaki Scouts, he is also outcast.
Suzy, on the other hand, is a local who comes from a well-off family. However, her workaholic lawyer parents have little time for her issues. Having met the year before at a pageant where Suzy was performing, the couple devises their grand romantic adventure through a year of letters. Armed with an ex-Khaki Scout’s knowledge, a French record, and a kitten, the two set out. What follows is a wonderful story about love, late summer storms, and family.
Hannah Barger is a recent Wilson Central High School graduate and plans to attend Tennessee Tech University in the fall and major in journalism.