Summertime and the living is easy, or so the saying goes. The season of cold beer and barbeques, beaches and skimpy clothes is the perfect time for Hollywood to release its fun popcorn flicks for the masses. Nothing too serious here (the current “Batman” flick exempted). Summer is also the season when the studios cross their fingers and hope for a few blockbusters to funnel cash into their coffers.
Released on DVD is “Mamma Mia”, starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth. If you’ve seen the popular musical based on the songs of 70s’ pop supergroup Abba, you know the story. If not, here’s a quickie synopsis. The daughter of a free-spirited mom (Meryl Streep) is planning a wedding and she wants her long-lost dad to be there. Trouble is, who is her dad? According to Mom’s diary, he could be one of three guys. So she invites all three and the fun begins. Brosnan and Firth play two of the might-be dads. Expect lots of singing and dancing at every opportune moment
If you’d rather sit in your own (hopefully) air-conditioned living room, with cold drinks and a bathroom nearby, look for these summer love movies at your local video store or online.
1. Grease (1978)
Grease was the word way back in 1978. Sure, the actors were at least 10 years too old for their teenaged characters but just ignore that casting fact for the fun. Sweet and innocent Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and would-be hood Danny (John Travolta) meet at the beach. They share a summer romance and part, never expecting to see each other again. Guess again. Sandy is a new student at Rydell High, which Danny attends. But sweet Sandy in her buttoned up blouses and poodle skirt is the last person Danny wants his friends to find out about. The end message is questionable (a girl needs to be a tramp to get her guy) but ignore that and just enjoy the singing and dancing to bouncy 50’s style music.
2. The Notebook (2005)
Haul out the tissue box for this weeper, which involves an old couple and their younger selves, played by the former real-life twosome Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. Allie Hamilton and Noah Calhoun meet at a carnival. They end up spending the summer together and fall deeply in love. But Allie is a rich girl and Noah is a poor boy and what rich parent wants a daughter to end up with a guy without two nickels to rub together? The lovers are separated. Noah promises to write but Allie never receives his letters. Years later when she’s about to marry another man, Allie sees Noah’s picture in the newspaper. She still loves him. Now what? Get the movie (or read the book by Nicholas Sparks) to find out. And don’t forget those tissues!
3. Dirty Dancing (1987)
This “coming of age” movie isn’t a musical but does feature some high energy and sensual dancing. Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) and her family visit an upscale resort in the Catskills for the summer. Baby falls for the older dancing instructor Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze). It takes him awhile to warm up to her though. Staff and guests aren’t supposed to mix. But he changes his mind when Baby fills in for his usual dance partner, who’s recovering from an illegal abortion. In 2004, a sequel, “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” appeared, with different characters but a similar story. (sheltered girl, forbidden romance etc.).
4. Body Heat (1981)
A bored young wife (Kathleen Turner) and a low-life lawyer (William Hurt) meet and mate in a small Florida town during a summer heat wave. Before long, they’re scheming to get rid of that inconvenience, the husband, and get his money. Hot stuff here and I’m not talking about the heat everyone complains about in the movie.
5. The Long Hot Summer (1958)
Drifter Ben Quick (Paul Newman) stirs up everyone in a small Southern town, including the local schoolteacher (Joanne Woodward), her rich daddy (Orson Welles) and the insecure son (Anthony Franciosa). Determined to bring new blood into the family, Will Varner offers Ben a deal he can’t refuse: a comfortable home, money and property on one condition: he woo and marry Will’s reluctant daughter!