1. Dazed and Confused
As Richard Linklater’s eclectic gab-fest incisively illustrates, high school may end up feeling like a total drag that you just might end up missing. That being said, summer vacation – with its wide open promise of freewheeling misadventures and unrestricted camaraderie – will never draw mixed emotions. Whatever happens to the burnouts, pretty boys, underdogs and incoming freshman of Lee High School after that madcap last day in 1976, you know it will be a time they’ll never forget (if they remember it, of course).
2. Stand By Me
Though it’s hard to imagine the fabled search for a dead body happening in the age of Amber Alert, this coming-of-age classic perfectly captures the freedom and bonding that summer vacation still promises. Every little detail – from the Great Tri-County Pie-Eat story to the appealingly un-PC dialogue – perfectly captures the rambunctious innocence of childhood and can’t help but remind those of us who’ve come to resemble the world-weary narrator more than the free-spirited boys of our own summer adventures all those years ago.
3. The Sandlot
As any ex-misfit will tell you, no season presents more opportunity than summer. Whereas school offers you a chance to better your mind, summer allows you to, in the words of Small’s mother, run around, scrape your knees and get dirty. From pool trips to facing down your uptown rivals to taking on The Beast, summer allows kids to be kids with other kids, even if they’re new, awkward and show remarkably poor judgment in choosing a ball for the pickup game.
4. A Goofy Movie
The 2-D, humanoid-dog world may suggest pure cartoony escapism, but the father-son bonding that comes out of Goofy and Max’s cross-country trek feels surprisingly genuine. As anyone who’s spent entirely too long crammed into the family car will no doubt tell you, sometimes the worst trips bring you together the most…especially when meeting bigfoot and crashing a stadium concert are in the mix.
5. National Lampoon’s Vacation
There’s an old saying that ‘it’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey.’ As this screwball road movie proves though, both can end up being complete busts, which is good news for moviegoers even if it pushes Chevy Chase and company right up against the limits of sanity. Sometimes however, as we all know, the worst summer experiences end up making the best memories in time.