When the summer heat proves to be unbearable, it’s a treat to take a break, blast the AC, and watch a fun movie inside. It’s an even bigger treat to watch beautiful stars beat the summer heat on screen themselves, especially when the plot of the film involves a hot summer romance.
The following list includes movies that will make you yearn for the best parts of summer. From swims on the beach, to ice cream dates, to woodsy vacation resorts, these movies are sure to make your chills multiply.
When Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John) meet on the beach in the summer of 1958, they assume their connection will be left behind with the summer nights when fall rolls around. How wrong they are. When Sandy’s family relocates from Australia to California, the pair reunite in a high school setting, where Sandy discovers that Danny isn’t the nice guy she thought he was. After a few iconic musical numbers and a (now) problematic ending, the couple figures out how to be together.
Grease is one of the most celebrated movie musicals of all time, and it’s easy to see why. From the Pink Lady jackets, to the dream sequence accompanying the song “Beauty School Dropout,” to John Travolta’s enviable hair, there is no shortage of amazing visual and quotable moments.
Overboard features one of Hollywood’s most enduring real-life couples: Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. In a classic case of forgotten identity, Joanna Stayton (Hawn) loses her memory after falling off of her luxury yacht. When Joanna’s real husband pretends like he doesn’t know her, her former employee, Dean Proffitt (Kurt Russell), takes advantage of an opportunity to get revenge on her for treating him horribly. He tells her that she is his wife and the mother of his four boys, a role she readily accepts because she has zero recollection of her true past. Once Joanna proves herself to be a caring mother and is effective in managing Dean’s finances, the two fall in love, but learning the truth poses an unavoidable problem.
The film was remade in 2018 with a role reversal starring Anna Faris as the mastermind and Eugenio Derbez as the wealthy, spoiled amnesiac. But nothing can top the original chemistry between real-life couple Hawn and Russell.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Before Blake Lively was the fashionista Serena in Gossip Girl, she was a simpler type of teenager sharing a cute pair of pants with her three best friends. The movie follows each of the girls as they go their separate ways for the summer, and two of them find a sweet summer love. Lena (Alexis Bledel) has a Romeo and Juliet-esque romance in Greece when she meets a local cutie from a feuding family after receiving the magic pants in the mail. Bridget Vreeland (Blake Lively) has another type of forbidden romance, as she crushes on her coach at soccer camp.
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Fans of the series will be happy to know that a third movie is reportedly in the works, as stars Alexis Bledel and Amber Tamblyn confirmed the new script’s existence back in April. But, if it doesn’t end up happening, knowing that the four girls are still best friends in real life is enough (for now).
Call Me By Your Name
This recent Academy Award-nominated film follows the burgeoning romance between 17-year-old musical prodigy Elio (Timothee Chalamet) and 24-year-old archaeology grad student Oliver (Armie Hammer) in Italy. Both in relationships with women, the pair deny their feelings for one another until the summer is almost over.
Heartbreaking and groundbreaking, Call Me By Your Name is certainly one of the heavier films on this list, but it’s an important one to watch. Just maybe save some time afterwards to watch one of the musicals on this list. It’ll help dry your tears.
When you think of summer romance movies, you may immediately think of Baby and Johnny, the ICONIC couple from Dirty Dancing. The film screams summer—it takes place at a vacation resort, has endless jean short moments, and has a famous watermelon-dance scene. Baby (Jennifer Grey) arrives at the resort with her family in tow. She’s attracted to Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze), the resort's dance instructor. He takes her to the after-hours employee parties, where she is scandalized by their dancing. When Johnny’s dance partner Penny needs money for an abortion, Baby takes on Penny’s dancing responsibilities so the couple won’t lose their salaries.
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone (well, her body double) recreated the famous lift from Dirty Dancing in their 2011 comedy Crazy Stupid Love, proving that the impact of this film, like Baby, will never be put in the corner.
The cult success of Mystic Pizza led the real-life Connecticut pizzeria to create a line of frozen pizzas: the ultimate sign of American success. The film centers on the love lives of three women—two sisters and their best friend—in the fishing town of Mystic. Kat Araujo (Annabeth Gish) is Yale-bound, but has a crush on the father of the girl she babysits for. Her sister Daisy (Julia Roberts) meets a pretentious guy at a bar whom she dates on-and-off as she decides whether or not he’s a spoiled brat. Jojo Barbosa (Lili Taylor) is engaged, but isn’t sure whether she’s ready to get married or not. As the women navigate their love lives and futures, the common bond is their dedication to one another, even though they disagree along the way.
To top it all off, the women all work at the local pizzeria, which is expecting a well-regarded critic to sample a pie. The 1988 film was Julia Roberts’ first box office hit, and Matt Damon’s first movie (even though he only had one line).
Blue Crush has no shortage of beach shots, bikinis, and cameos from professional surfers. Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth) is a surfing prodigy who agrees to teach an NFL-quarterback named Matt (Matthew Davis, AKA Warner from Legally Blonde) how to surf. As the two spend more time together, Anne Marie faces judgment from her best friends and the locals, who don’t easily accept outsiders.
Anne Marie and Matt are a classic example of a pair that shouldn’t work, but do. Bonded by their common love of sports, the couple face an uphill battle throughout the movie if they want to be together. Fans of this summer romance will also be happy to know that the film is set to be remade as a TV show by NBC.
Yes, we still cry over the fact that Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams broke up, even though their real-life relationship ended over 10 years ago. But if you’ve seen the passion that the pair had in The Notebook, you understand. Based on the Nicholas Sparks book of the same name, the film centers around star-crossed lovers who meet during a North Carolina fair in the summer of 1940. Allie (McAdams) is from a well-off family who wants her to be with someone from a similar background, while Noah Calhoun (Gosling) is working class and doesn’t have a dollar to his name.
After the war, hidden letters and distance separate the couple. Only the construction of Allie’s dream home and a small torrential downpour can unite them in the same space. The film also produced some highly quotable romance lines like “I wrote you 365 letters” and “If you’re a bird, I’m a bird.”
The Last Song
It’s important to indulge in the sappiness that is a Nicholas Sparks movie every once and awhile. And the bonus with The Last Song is that, while watching, you can also witness the early stages of the Miley Cyrus/Liam Hemsworth off-screen relationship that has withstood the test of time ... or nine years (and counting!).
Ronnie Miller (played by Cyrus) is forced to spend time at her estranged father’s house for the summer in North Carolina after not seeing him for years. When her smoothie is knocked out of her hand by a runaway volleyball at the beach, she meets Will Blakelee (Liam Hemsworth). Despite her insistence that she doesn’t want to date anyone, the two fall in love. A sea turtle preservation effort, a secret illness, and Ronnie’s secret talent as a pianist make this summer romance a bit corny, but in a sweet way.
Another iconic musical, Mamma Mia takes place at a small resort on the picturesque white beaches of Greece. Though you could argue about who the real summer romance involves—either Sophie and Sky or Donna and Sam or Bill and Rosie OR even Tanya and Pepper—one thing is for sure: Donna Sheridan’s resort got way hotter once Sophie invited her three possible dads to the wedding.
The plot centers around Sophie Sheridan (Amanda Seyfried) who is set to get married at the ripe old age of 20. Her mother Donna (Meryl Streep) raised Sophie on her own at the resort, and never told Sophie the identity of her father. When Sophie reads her mom’s diary, she discovers that there are three possible fathers, so logically, she invites them all to the wedding without any pretext. The arrival of Donna’s best friends reunites their old girl group, The Dynamos, giving the audience some amazing performances in sparkly neon jumpsuits.
The always-catchy ABBA music alone should persuade you to give this summer romance movie a try, but if not, then seeing the always-classy Meryl Streep wearing overalls should do the trick. The film is getting its own sequel this month starring the ICON Cher (in a blonde wig!) as Sophie’s grandmother.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
How could we forget the movie with some of comedy’s biggest stars? There is no shortage of laughs—or Hawaiian shirts—in this comedy about an awkward breakup between an actress and a literal puppet master.
After breaking up with his girlfriend of five years, Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) takes what he thinks is a solo trip to Hawaii to get over her. When he finds out that he’s staying next door to his ex, Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) and the guy she cheated on him with (Russell Brand) his trip is in jeopardy of being ruined. Thankfully, a concierge (Mila Kunis) listens to his sob story, and helps him deal with seeing his ex by offering him the resort’s best amenities.
Before Emma Roberts slayed on pretty much every show that Ryan Murphy has produced since Glee, she was a Nickelodeon starlet with a big break as Claire in Aquamarine. Alongside her best friend, Hailey (JoJo) the teens find a mermaid (Sara Paxton) who has three days to fall in love or else she’ll have to return to the ocean forever. She sets her eyes on the most popular guy in town, who is only slightly weirded out by her incessant questions over whether he loves her yet.
Aquamarine is the story about the strength of friendship and serves as a pure, teenage version of Splash. The music is on point too, featuring some summer jams like “Island in the Sun” by Weezer and “Smile” by Vitamin C.
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Featured still from "Dirty Dancing" via Vestron Pictures.