Friday Five: Summer Camp Movies

By Peter SM RSS Fri, August 22, 2014

As we are now in the dog days of summer and those long sun lit evenings begin to wane, my thoughts turn to carefree childhood days playing with friends and spending time outdoors from dawn to dusk. I was lucky enough to go to summer camp as a kid and really cherish those memories of learning how to swim, playing kickball, expeditions into the woods, creating crafts, and just having fun.

If you ever went to summer camp, have sent your kids to summer camp, or just like stories set in the summertime, the following "Friday Five" recommendations may entertain you.

So, make some popcorn (in the microwave or over an open fire, your choice!), maybe grab some s'mores, and check out these flicks.

Also, as a general rule of thumb, if Bill Murray is in the movie, it's probably going to be pretty good.

Meatballs Meatballs (1979)

The quintessential summer camp movie that all modern summer camp movies have used as a template, the goofy anarchy of Meatballs bridges the gap between Animal House and Caddyshack in the pantheon of snob vs. slobs comedies. Bill Murray stars as the proto-slacker camp counselor who leads the misfit campers in his care through a myriad of wacky hijinks. There's also a hot dog eating contest, an over the top Olympiad between rival summer camps, and a total earworm of a theme song, "Are You Ready for the Summer?"

Wet Hot American Summer Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

Wouldn't you want to go to camp and hang out all summer with Amy Poehler, Janeane Garofalo, Paul Rudd, David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon, Bradley Cooper and the cast from The State?! A direct descendent of and highly influenced by Meatballs, Wet Hot American Summer takes place on the last day of summer camp and, again, hijinks ensue: there's a botched camping trip, a funny yet disturbing montage of a counselor-led run into town for supplies, a subplot involving a space satellite, and an over the top talent show to close out the film. And really, that's just a small sampling of what takes place in this surreal and hilarious movie. Highly Recommended!

The Parent Trap
The Parent Trap
The Parent Trap (original, 1961) / The Parent Trap (remake, 1998)

Identical twins separated at birth (60s Disney mainstay Hayley Mills in the original, a tween-aged Lindsay Lohan makes her film debut in the 90s remake), not knowing the other exists, inadvertently run into each other and become friends while away at summer camp. The two switch places when they go home from summer camp and try to get their estranged parents together in--you guessed it: a series of wacky hijinks. The original is classic feel-good Disney film making. The remake deals with some more serious family issues, but a happy ending is still in the cards. And if it wasn't for summer camp, neither movie would exist!

Moonrise Kingdom Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Another film that takes place at a summer camp that features Billy Murray? Yup! And a Wes Andreson film to boot! The story doesn't center around Murray though this time, as a twelve year old orphaned boy attending Camp Ivanhoe meets and falls in love with the Scoutmaster's twelve year old daughter. The two set up camp near an isolated cove they name the "Moonrise Kingdom". As with the other movies in this list, wacky hijinks ensue throughout the course of the film, only this time they are Wes Anderson-y wacky hijinks set to a great music soundtrack. This comedic coming of age movie is a very sweet, quirky, and endearing look at young love.

Friday the 13th Friday the 13th (1980)

No wacky hijinks take place at this summer camp, just lots of gruesome deaths and copious amounts of blood fill the screen. Camp Crystal Lake has been closed for over twenty years due to several vicious and unsolved murders, including that time a camper named Jason Vorhees drowned. When new owners reopen the camp, it's not long before counselors start disappearing... only to show up later dead. Who's the killer stalking campers? Classic twist ending and the summer camp slasher film that pretty much every other horror film set in the woods has ripped off, er, paid homage. Featuring Philadelphia's own Kevin Bacon!

Use our catalog to search for other summertime or summer-themed films--wacky hijinks optional!

What are some of your favorite summer time movies? Let us know in the comments!

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