Your Guide to Summer Movie Nights
Want some ideas on how to throw a movie night? This week's episode of The Lazy Genius Podcast is for you! But you also might just want some actual movie ideas, so strap in.
Every movie on this list is currently on Netflix. Hopefully they'll last through the summer amen.
For Families with Little-ish Kids
1. Zootopia (98% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Plot from IMDb: In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie bunny cop and a cynical con artist fox must work together to uncover a conspiracy.
Why it's great: Our world could use more empathy and acceptance, and this movie has it in spades. Or claws. Trunks and snouts and such. Funny, heartfelt, idealistic, and totally relatable.
2. Homeward Bound (88% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Plot from IMDb: Three pets escape from a California ranch to find their owners in San Francisco.
Why it's great: No movie has so many happy tears. And sad tears. There are so many tears, y'all, but you love every single one. P.S. My sister and I recorded a podcast episode about movies that make us cry, and Homeward Bound gets a giant slice of that pie.
3. Cool Runnings (75% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Plot from IMDb: When a Jamaican sprinter is disqualified from the Olympic Games, he enlists the help of a dishonored coach to start the first Jamaican Bobsled Team.
Why it's great: An underdog story that never gets old. So many one-liners, nothing objectionable, and a fantastic lesson on how to handle difficult circumstances. I don't have a podcast episode about every movie on this list, but I was totally on a podcast about Cool Runnings. I have a lot of feelings.
4. The BFG (74% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Plot from IMDb: An orphan little girl befriends a benevolent giant who takes her to Giant Country, where they attempt to stop the man-eating giants that are invading the human world.
Why it's great: If you don't pick apart a pretty simplistic plot and remember that this is a kid's movie, you'll really enjoy it. Anything that has Steven Spielberg attached has a lot resting on its shoulders, but not every one of his movies has to be Oscar worthy. Just enjoy it; you totally will.
5. Annie (52% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Plot from IMDb: A young orphan girl's adventures in finding a family that will take her.
Why it's great: The music is stellar, the acting is beautifully over the top, and I will never not love Carol Burnette in anything.
For Your Group of Guy and Girl Friends
1. Spotlight (96% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Plot from IMDb: The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.
Why it's great: Doesn't it sound super light and fun? I realize it's not. BUT, YOU GUYS. This movie should be boring as hay-yull, and it's NOT. I couldn't believe how riveting it was, how amazing the acting was (hello, Mark Ruffalo, how you doin...), and how I wanted to talk about it for an hour after it was over. That's why it's such a great movie night for a certain group of friends... there's so much to talk about after. There's a reason this movie killed at the Oscars. Trust me. Plus Rachel McAdams in 90s pleated khakis amen.
2. Doctor Strange (90% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Plot from IMDb: While on a journey of physical and spiritual healing, a brilliant neurosurgeon is drawn into the world of the mystic arts.
Why it's great: You'd think I would say Benedict Cumberbatch and walk away, right? You would be wrong. Actually I'll Benedict Cumberbatch + Rachel McAdams and then walk away. Kidding. This movie is so fun. Quirky (thanks, Tilda Swinton), super cool saturated cinematography, a passable American accent and 'tude from BC that makes it even harder to not force him to marry me, and a story that fits in the Marvel universe without feeling overdone. It's different, full of action, and has something for everyone.
3. Zodiac (89% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Plot from IMDb: In the late 1960s/early 1970s, a San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified individual who terrorizes Northern California with a killing spree.
Why it's great: I won't lie to you; this mess is scary. There are a couple of scenes that are so simple in their terror that you wonder if you actually have a spine. No gore, no blood, just suspense at its best. Plus the performances by Jake Gyllenhaal (yes, please), Mark Ruffalo (umm, really??), and Robert Downey Jr. (an embarrassment of riches, really) are fantastic.
P.S. If you have your eye on a dude and need a reason to snuggle closer, I'm not saying this movie will help you do that, but I also can't say it won't.
4. The Man From Snowy River (80% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Plot from IMDb: In 1880s Australia when young Jim Craig's father dies, Jim takes a job at the Harrison cattle ranch and he is forced to become a man.
Why it's great: Sweaty Australians on horses, unrequited love, an underdog meets coming of age story, Kirk Douglas at his most crotchety, and a STUNNING film score. This movie has been a favorite since I was a kid and still holds up.
5. Braveheart (78% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Plot from IMDb: When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her, Sir William Wallace begins a revolt against King Edward I of England.
Why it's great: Epic. Epic epic epic. It's a tiny bit slow in places plus there's a sexy scene that might make a coed group slightly uncomfortable, but other than that, it deserves all the Oscars it won 20 years ago. Such a great movie that you haven't seen in years or never actually did. Plan a movie night, and change that.
For a Girls' Night
1. Laura (100% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Plot from IMDb: A police detective falls in love with the woman whose murder he is investigating.
hy it's great: Dana Andrews, y'all. DANA FREAKING ANDREWS is why it's great. Old school film noir was made for a bunch of ladies on a microfiber sofa and a bottle of chardonnay, and this movie is practically perfect. So moody. SO GREAT.
2. Howards End (92% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Plot from IMDb: A businessman thwarts his wife's bequest of an estate to another woman. (Terrible description, but whatever.)
Why it's great: You've got class issues, bizarre love triangles, amazingly coifed hair, and a cast to kill. Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, Anthony Hopkins, Vanessa Redgrave... possibly one of the best acted movies ever.
3. The Imitation Game (90% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Plot from IMDb: During World War II, mathematician Alan Turing tries to crack the enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.
Why it's great: I could talk about the score, the acting, the riveting story, the beautiful direction... all are fantastic. But, LADIES. Benedict Cumberbatch. Matthew Goode. Allan Leech. Mark Strong. Keira Knightley. This movie is loaded with pretty people and awesome costumes. It won an Oscar for its screenplay and was nominated for picture, directing, editing, score, production design, and acting for both BC and Keira. Y'all. IT'S SO GOOD.
4. Mean Girls (84% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Plot from IMDb: Cady Heron is a hit with The Plastics, the A-list girl clique at her new school, until she makes the mistake of falling for Aaron Samuels, the ex-boyfriend of alpha Plastic Regina George.
Why it's great: Well, Tina Fey wrote it, so that's a thing. Lizzy Caplan is an insecure goth girl, and that's amazing. We get to remember that Lindsay Lohan was actually really good before life went upside down. And Rachel McAdams as the main mean girl? And she's PERFECT??? We haven't even talked about Gretchen Wieners having a Toaster Strudel fortune or Karen Smith predicting the weather with her boobs. THIS MOVIE IS JUST SO GOOD. Such a great rewatch with a cocktail in hand.
5. While You Were Sleeping (80% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Plot from IMDb: A hopeless romantic Chicago Transit Authority token collector is mistaken for the fiancée of a coma patient.
Why it's great: Sandy came on the scene in Speed and then five minutes later STOLE OUR COLLECTIVE HEART with one of the most charming rom-coms ever. Her big sweaters, her creepy neighbor, Peter Boyle as the perfect ornery dad, and Bill Pullman. William James Pullman. The denim jacket, the rocking chairs, the floppy 90s bangs... this movie is perfect. There will never be another movie like it.
What will you watch or watch again for your summer movie night?
P.S. I had no idea there was so much Rachel McAdams on this list, and I'm not at all sorry.