The 10 Best Summer Movies to Watch Right Now

From blockbusters to quiet hits, these movies sizzle

Summer movies mean road trips, summer jobs, summer love, and so much more. We've compiled the best summer movies, including comedies, romances, horror films, and musicals.

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Jaws (1975): Best Mayoral Re-Election Campaign

An Alternative View - The 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images

IMDb rating: 8.0

Genre: Adventure, Thriller

Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss

Director: Steven Spielberg

Motion Picture Rating: PG

Running Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes

When a great white shark starts attacking swimmers in a fictional New England town, the mayor's top priority is tourism. He claims it's perfectly safe to swim, even after multiple attacks. Despite this (spoiler alert), he's still mayor in the sequel. Richard Dreyfuss plays a marine biologist who joins forces with the town's sheriff and a local man to dispatch the shark.

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Dirty Dancing (1987): Best Summer in the Catskills Love Story

A scene from Dirty Dancing.

IMDb rating: 7.0

Genre: Drama, Music, Romance

Starring: Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach

Director: Emile Ardolino

Motion Picture Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

A college-bound teen joins her family on vacation in the Catskills, where she pretty quickly falls for the dance instructor. The film has great dancing sequences and an excellent soundtrack. It even won an Oscar for the best original song: (I've Had) The Time of My Life.

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Do The Right Thing (1989): Spike Lee’s Take on a Brooklyn Summer

2014 BAMcinemaFest Closing Night - 25th Anniversary Screening Of "Do The Right Thing"

Noam Galai/WireImage/Getty

IMDb rating: 8.0

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Starring: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee

Director: Spike Lee

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 2 hours

This movie takes place in one day, but not one that repeats. Spike Lee plays Mookie, who delivers pizza in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn while dealing with workplace and romantic drama. Highlighting racial tensions on the hottest day of the year, Do The Right Thing is a portrait of a neighborhood where everyone knows everyone else's business for better or worse.

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Palm Springs (2020): A Charming Love Story That Repeats Over and Over

"Palm Springs" Premiere Party At The Audible Speakeasy - 2020 Sundance Film Festival

David Becker / Stringer / Getty

IMDb rating: 7.4

Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Mystery

Starring: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons

Director: Max Barbakow

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Imagine reliving the same day over and over, but instead of a Groundhog Day celebration, you're at a wedding. And you fall for another wedding guest who is also reliving the day. Palm Springs is a fun take on the rom-com, featuring the relentlessly charming Andy Samberg as the protagonist.

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Adventureland (2009): A Roller Coaster of a Summer Job

A scene from Adventureland.

IMDb rating: 6.8

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds

Director: Greg Mottola

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes

Taking place in 1987, Adventureland is the titular workplace of the main characters. Love and drama quickly ensue amid the rides and attractions. Jesse Eisenberg plays James Brennan, a college graduate who needs money and settles for a job in the park's games section. (Running the rides requires seniority.) Ryan Reynolds is Mike Connell, a villain of sorts and a romantic rival to James.

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A scene from Midsommar.

IMDb rating: 7.1

Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery

Starring: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Vilhelm Blomgren

Director: Ari Aster

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 2 hours, 28 minutes

A trip to Sweden for a mid-summer festival is charming until people start disappearing and the main characters are forced into peculiar contests. Midsommar is shocking, entertaining, and disturbing, and you'll continue thinking about it for weeks. Florence Pugh, who starred in Little Women the year before, gives an incredible performance.

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Wet Hot American Summer (2001): Summer Camp From the Counselors’ POV

Wet Hot American Summer movie poster.

IMDb rating: 6.6

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Starring: Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Michael Showalter

Director: David Wain

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

It's the last day of summer camp in 1981, and the counselors have a lot to do. There is a lot to love about this movie, mostly the cast, which includes Paul Rudd, who has literally not aged. Christopher Meloni plays the foul-mouthed and wildly inappropriate camp chef. Janeane Garafalo and Amy Poehler play drama instructors trying to put on the best talent show in the camp's history. The movie also stars David Hyde Pierce, Bradley Cooper, and Molly Shannon.

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Dazed and Confused (1993): School’s Out For Summer

A scene from Dazed and Confused.

IMDb rating: 7.6

Genre: Comedy

Starring: Jason London, Wiley Wiggins, Matthew McConaughey

Director: Richard Linklater

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

It's 1976 and the last day of school for students from a Texas high school and middle school. It features many teenagers looking to party and avoid hazing, and Matthew McConaughey uttering his classic line "Alright, Alright, Alright."

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I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997): PSA For Not Committing a Hit and Run

Freddie Prinze Jr And Jennifer Love Hewitt In 'I Still Know What You Did Last Summer'
Columbia Pictures / Getty Images

IMDb rating: 5.7

Genre: Horror, Mystery

Starring: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Anne Heche

Director: Jim Gillespie

Motion Picture Rating: R

Running Time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

This movie is about four teens who do something terrible, cover it up, and are pursued by a hook-wielding man intent on revenge. Featuring nineties stars Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sarah Michelle Gellar, the movie isn't overly gory, but still terrifying. Maybe consider it a cautionary tale?

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Grease (1978): Best Summer-Themed Musical

DriveIn Cinema In Milan showing Grease.
Francesco Prandoni / Getty Images

IMDb rating: 7.2

Genre: Musical, Romance

Starring: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing

Director: Randal Kleiser

Motion Picture Rating: PG

Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Though nearly all the action in this movie takes place during the school year, the plot is driven by a summer romance. Grease, which is based on a musical of the same name, is a lot of fun and it's hard not to sing along. It was nominated for an Oscar for its original song Hopelessly Devoted to You. And in 2020, Grease was selected by the Library of Congress to be preserved in the National Film Registry.

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