Top Ten: Summer Holiday Films

I’m off to PGL this weekend with my Brownie unit. We’re going to be spending the weekend jumping off high structures, zip-wiring across fields and playing netball on trampolines. When I say we I, of course, mean they will be doing all that. I’m not that daft… the idea of climbing a skinny pole and jumping off does not appeal to me. It’s not my idea of a great holiday but it did get me thinking about my favourite holiday/summer films. Most of these films are light and fluffy and wouldn’t be regarded as classics but they are ideal to watch in the summer when thoughts start to turn to holidays and escape from the day to day norms of life.

carry on abroad1. Carry on Abroad

I apologise to no-one for my love of the Carry On films. They are crass, sexist, camp rubbish and I love them. Carry On Abroad sees the best of the Carry On team (Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Joan Sims, Charles Hawtrey and Barbara Windsor) travel abroad for holiday full of love triangles. The filming was all carried out at Pinewood but it’s still a great summer holiday film.

dirtydancing2. Dirty Dancing

This is the ultimate summer romance film and set many a teenage girl’s heart fluttering in the 1980s. Good girl Baby Houseman meets sexy older dance teacher Johnny Castle at a summer camp in the Catskills. How could you not want to be Baby? Just don’t try to recreate the romance at Butlins Minehead, I get the feeling that it wouldn’t be such fun.

grease3. Grease

I know it’s not strictly a summer film – the action takes place throughout the school year – but this has a light, summery atmosphere all the way throughout. In fact, despite being set during a full year I’m pretty sure we don’t see any autumn, winter or spring. And it has the ultimate summer song in the first few minutes.

jaws4. Jaws

Not all holidays are good as visitors to Amity Island find out when killer Giant White Shark, Bruce, goes on the rampage. Spielberg’s film both created a new genre – the summer blockbuster – and demonised a mostly benign species (sharks have killed 484 people worldwide since 1580, humans kill 100 million sharks every year. Yes that is 1580 not 1980). It’s still a great film – enjoy the action, don’t let it put you off the beach.

little miss sunshine5. Little Miss Sunshine

If you like your summer films bright and breezy then avoid this at all costs. It’s a wickedly funny story of a dysfunctional family travelling to a children’s beauty pageant where the 7 year-old daughter Olive (a cute Abigail Breslin) is determined to win the Little Miss Sunshine title. Sad, moving, funny – this roadtrip film is almost perfect.

vacation6. National Lampoon’s Vacation

Chevy Chase stars as Clark Griswold, the patriarch of a disaster prone family in this first instalment of the National Lampoon Vacation series. Slapstick humour is the order of the day as the Griswolds encounter disaster after disaster on their road trip to the Disneyland-like Walley World. A new sequel starring Hangover and The Office star Ed Helms as Rusty Griswold is apparently in the pipeline.

point break7. Point Break

Patrick Swayze makes a second appearance on the summer holiday list as the leader of a surfer gang of bank robbers who wear face masks of former presidents. Keanu Reeves plays the rookie FBI agent Johnny Utah who is sent undercover to try to catch the gang. It sounds preposterous and it is, but it’s also great fun. One day I’ll learn to surf…

roman holiday8. Roman Holiday

Audrey Hepburn’s first major film role sees her play a rebellious Princess determined to explore Rome free of the shackles of responsibility. Gregory Peck is the gorgeous reporter who helps her to have a day of freedom and romance. Rome looks gorgeous, Peck is a wonderful leading man and Hepburn won an Oscar. How perfect is that?

shirley valentine9. Shirley Valentine

Another summer romance but the heroine is no naïve teenager but a forty-something Liverpool housewife who discovers there’s more to life than being ignored by her husband and family. The romance she has with Greek waiter Costas (Tom Conti using his trademarked all-purpose European accent) prompts her to re-evaluate her life and finally put her own needs first.

summer holiday10. Summer Holiday

Mock all you like but I grew up watching this Cliff Richard musical and have a soft spot for the tale of some cheeky chappie London boys who tour Europe on a refurbished double decker. Admit it, Summer Holiday is going to be your ear-worm for the rest of the day now…

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  1. I have to say my favourites in this list are Jaws and National Lampoons and I do have a soft spot for Point Break.

    Unfortunately I was not a huge fan of Little Miss Sunshine and actually thought it was a tad over-rated, but I am aware that it is in a lot of peoples top 10 movies.

    • I can see why people may not like Little Miss Sunshine, I really enjoy it but get that it’s a little cliche-ridden.

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