Seven Great End-of-Summer Movies

Each of these classic flicks is a worthy way to finish off the year's sunny season in style

by Melissa Mullins | Updated 21 Aug 2017 at 1:24 PM

It’s hard to believe — it seems that it just began — but the summer of 2017 is almost over. August is known as the dog days of summer, but in only a couple of weeks we’ll be trading in frozen fruity drinks for hot tea and cocoa; the smells of sunscreen and coconut for those of pumpkin and spice; and lazy days at the pool, beach or lake for hayrides and bonfires on chilly nights.

For those of us wishing summer would last a bit longer even as we feel the reality of fall sinking in, here’s a way to extend the sunny days a wee bit more.

1.) "Dirty Dancing" (1987). This is the unforgettable love story of a rich girl falling for a guy from the wrong side of the tracks — all with some jaw-dropping dancing thrown in for good measure.

Naïve and sweet 17-year-old Frances "Baby" Houseman (Jennifer Grey) vacations with her affluent family in the Catskill Mountains in the summer of 1963. Completely bored with her family's trip, Baby walks through the resort grounds and happens upon "dirty dancing" after-hours parties. Intrigued and wanting to learn some moves herself, she becomes infatuated with the older, wilder and handsome Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze), the resort's dance instructor. Infatuation soon turns into love as the two rehearse for a final big show.

When he learns about his daughter's dalliance with Johnny, her father forbids her from seeing him and tells her she will not perform with him — but as we all well know, "nobody puts Baby in the corner." She and Johnny go to give what has become one of the most iconic dance scenes in cinema history.

There's just no recapturing the magic of this original film and the chemistry between Swayze and Grey. A flop of a sequel released in 2004 and a low-rated musical remake from earlier this year proved that.

2.) "The Great Outdoors" (1988). If you're looking for some laughs to end the season, check out "The Great Outdoors." It stars Dan Aykroyd and the late John Candy in what's considered a timeless comedy classic.

Candy plays Chet Ripley, a mild-mannered middle-class Chicagoan, who takes his wife, Connie, and their two sons on a summer vacation to a lake resort in Wisconsin. Everything seems to be running smoothly until Connie's wealthy sister, Kate, Kate's husband, Roman Craig (played by Aykroyd), and their two kids come to crash the party.

Hilarity ensues over ghost stories, a cabin-smashing bear, teenage romance, family drama, and the unforgettable scene of the 96-ounce steak challenge. Sure, "The Great Outdoors" is a silly PG-rated comedy, but it's also a touching story about family bonds.

A remake is currently being developed, with comedian Kevin Hart set to star. As with other recent remakes, such as "CHiPs" and "Baywatch," we can expect this family film to be turned into a cynical R-rated romp — so enjoy it untarnished in the original version.

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3.) "My Girl" (1991). Who can forget this comedy-drama centered around the friendship between an 11-year-old girl and an unpopular but adorable boy of the same age? Then-child performers Anna Chlumsky and Macaulay Culkin stole our hearts with this coming-of-age story that took place in the summer of 1972. Vada Sultenfuss (Chlumsky) is the daughter of the town funeral director (Akroyd again), and she is fascinated by death. That — along with the fact that her single and socially inept father constantly ignores her — contributes to Vada's hypochondria.

The town girls also tease Vada over her best friend, Thomas J. Sennett (Culkin). The film brings laughs with the often relatable predicaments the kids find themselves in, as well as sadness and tears and the reality of children coming face-to-face with maturity and death.

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4.) "National Lampoon's Vacation" (1983). Nothing says summer like a good old-fashioned family vacation ... or, at the very least, the quest for one. "National Lampoon's Vacation" depicts things all families can relate to: long, crowded drives, annoying relatives, and family angst, all in pursuit of a great and unforgettable summer vacation.

Forced to drive a huge, ugly station wagon, patriarch Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) makes the trek with his family to what is considered "America's Favorite Family Fun Park": Wally World. Car vandalism, Christie Brinkley's tantalizing pool cameo, stolen credit cards, and plenty more forks in the road lead to one of the most entertaining and relatable road-trip movies. If you took a vacation with your kids this summer, there's bound to be at least a few incidents you can appreciate in this film.

5.) "The Notebook" (2004). Set in the 1940s on South Carolina's Seabrook Island, "The Notebook" stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams before they became big names. The story plays out through a long flashback sequence, opening with an elderly character named Duke reading a story from a notebook to a fellow female patient at what appears to be a retirement home.

Duke tells the story of a summer affair between two young lovers: Noah Calhoun, a simple but content man (Gosling) and "Allie" Hamilton, a rich heiress from Charleston (McAdams). When Allie's mother meets Noah, she forbids her daughter from seeing him again. Noah enlists to fight in World War II while Allie volunteers to take care of wounded soldiers; she meets another man from a wealthy background and becomes engaged. Noah returns years later to find Allie on the road to marriage, but they reconnect and Allie is torn between the two men, though she knows she is meant to be with Noah.

"The Notebook" (based on two novels by Nicholas Sparks) shares the heartache of young love — and reveals the lump-in-the-throat connection between soulmates.

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6.) "The Sandlot" (1993). Baseball has long been known as summer's favorite pastime, which makes "The Sandlot" perfect for this time of year. The film, set in 1962, evokes childhood memories of a time kids could roam the streets freely and play baseball in abandoned lots, making friends and memories for life.

"The Sandlot" is told by Scotty Smalls, who remembers his first summer in California. Struggling to make new friends, Scotty finds a group of kids and watches them play baseball in "the sandlot." Eventually all becoming friends, the boys go through funny and moving adventures together, including an unforgettable dog chase, a fake drowning (for a shot at kissing a pretty lifeguard), and a big win against their rival team.

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7.) "Stand by Me" (1986). Long bike rides with friends, staying outside and hiking through the woods until the sun goes down — these nostalgic memories are all evoked in "Stand by Me."

Main character Gordie (Wil Wheaton) tells of a childhood event in which he and three friends went hiking over Labor Day weekend, 1959. After one of Gordie's buddies overhears that the body of a missing boy from their town of Castle Rock, Oregon, is somewhere in the woods, the group sets off on an unforgettable adventure as they hope to find the body and become hometown heroes.

"Stand by Me" (also starring Corey Feldman, River Phoenix, and Jerry O'Connell) touches on the loss of innocence and the always-changing friendships of children as they grow. It's an insightful, powerful and funny film that will bring a smile and maybe even a tear or two.

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