ParentDish's Top 25 Summer-Themed Movies for Kids to Teens

Filed under: Media, Movies, Activities: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Gear Guides: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Activities: Big Kids, Gear Guides: Big Kids, Activities: Tweens, Gear Guides: Tweens, Activities: Teens, Gear Guides: Teens

Summer movie night? Pick a flick with a camp or summer theme. Credit: Corbis


"No more pencils, no more books; no more teachers' dirty looks; no more math and history; summer time has set us free!"

So sing the kids at Camp North Star in the 1979 summer classic "Meatballs," and we're singing right along with them as we kick off the season with our top 25 summer-themed movies for kids and teens.

From family road trips gone wacky to mermaids who come to shore to a pair of magical pants, we've dug around in the giant movie sandbox for our favorite films that celebrate everything from sleepaway camps to baseball games to baby-sitting to adventures with friends.Some of our picks are great for little kids, and some are better suited for more mature teens. Parents, as always, should decide whether the subject matter is appropriate for their children. Did we miss something? Leave a comment below and tell us your favorite summer flicks. Now, please pass the popcorn and dim the lights. We've got movies to watch.

1. Stand By Me (1986): Based on Stephen King's short story "The Body," this Rob Reiner classic follows four friends (played by River Phoenix, Jerry O'Connell, Corey Feldman and Wil Wheaton), as they search for the body of a missing boy and find friendship and adventure along the way. Memorable Line: "I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12." Rated R.

2. The Sandlot (1993):
A coming-of-age tale, this sweet and funny film is about baseball, but also about conquering fears, as little Scotty Smalls must make new friends in a new town, deal with a distant stepdad and face down "the beast." Memorable Line: "Remember kid, there's heroes and there's legends. Heroes get remembered but legends never die." Rated PG.

3. Meatballs (1979): Bill Murray is Tripper, the cool -- and hilarious -- counselor, who befriends outcast camper Rudy and teaches him to believe in himself. Memorable line: "Wudy the wabbit, the winner!" Rated PG.

4. The Parent Trap (1961, 1998): First Hayley Mills, and then Lindsay Lohan (when she was still innocent) play identical twins separated at birth who meet at summer camp. Of course, they decide to switch places and hijinks ensue! Memorable line: "I have a brilliant beyond brilliant idea!" Rated G.

5.
National Lampoon's Vacation (1983): Chevy Chase -- aka Clark Griswold -- takes the family on a summer road trip to Walley World, but things don't quite turn out the way he had hoped. This movie should probably be reserved for older teens. Memorable line: "This is no longer a vacation. It's a quest. It's a quest for fun." Rated R.

6. Back to the Beach (1987):
What's a summer list without a little Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon? A send-up of the duo's beach party flicks from the '60s, it's also got Pee-Wee Herman, Bob Denver and Jerry Mathers -- yep, the Beav. Hang 10! Memorable line: "You can tell the men from the boys by the price of their toys." Rated PG.

7. Now and Then (1995): Looking for a movie for moms and daughters to watch together? This is it -- adult friends played by Demi Moore, Rosie O'Donnell, Rita Wilson and Melanie Griffith reminisce about a summer spent together as girls (played by Gaby Hoffman, Christina Ricci, Ashleigh Aston Moore and Thora Birch, respectively) in 1970. Memorable line: "I say we make a pact. Here and now. We're here for each other, always, no matter what happens in life." Rated PG-13.

8.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005): Four BFFs go their separate ways for a summer, but they trade off wearing one pair of pants that fits them all perfectly -- even though their body types are all different. Starring America Ferrera, Blake Lively, Alexis Bledel and Amber Tamblyn, moms will also enjoy this hit movie based on the popular book. Memorable line: "The Pants have already worked their magic on me. They brought me to you." Rated PG-13.

9.
Summer School (1987): There's no camp for these kids -- school is still in for Mr. Shoop's (Mark Harmon) class of high school-age misfits. For more mature teens, but full of silly fun. Memorable line: "Tension-breaker. Had to be done." Rated PG-13.

10. Little Darlings (1980): In another classic camp movie, this time good girl Ferris (Tatum O'Neal) faces off against bad girl Angel (Kristy McNichol). It deals with mature subject matter, but we still find it funny and touching more than (gulp) 30 years later. Memorable line: "This is my friend Ferris Whitney ... my best friend." Rated R.

11. The Baby-Sitters Club (1995): Seven friends in a baby-sitting club decide to start a summer camp, but everything from family troubles to young loves to annoyed neighbors threaten to ruin the fun. Memorable line: "You know, we're more than just a club. We're friends. Best friends." Rated PG.

12. Heavy Weights (1995):
The kids sent to fat camp weren't expecting their exercise-crazed director (played by Ben Stiller) to make Camp Hope a nightmare. But they -- hilariously -- fight back in this funny film co-written by Judd Apatow. Memorable line: "Attention campers. Lunch has been canceled due to lack of hustle. Deal with it." Rated PG.

13. Dirty Dancing (1987): Baby, Johnny and the rest of the guests and staff at Kellerman's summer resort had the time of their lives and we did, too, watching them. Great music, dancing and classic scenes from Jennifer Gray and Patrick Swayze make this a must-see summer flick for teens. Memorable line: "Nobody puts Baby in a corner." Rated PG-13.

14. Space Camp (1986): So, you head to space camp -- pretty cool, right? But, then, you accidentally get shot into space? Whoa. Craziest. Camp. Ever. Starring a young Joaquin Phoenix, along with Lea Thompson and Kate Capshaw. Memorable line: "In space, anything is possible." Rated PG.

15. RV (2006): Put Robin Williams in an RV. Add a dysfunctional family. Have them drive to the Colorado mountains and watch the wackiness. Memorable line: "Dad, the RV's rolling away." Rated PG.

16. Flipper (1996): Sandy (Elijah Wood) is sent to the Florida Keys to spend the summer with his uncle (Paul Hogan). Things are pretty grim until he befriends a dolphin and finds adventure. Memorable line: "A piece of advice, never hurl in front of your woman. Something to live by." Rated PG.

17. Aquamarine (2006): Two BFFs find a mermaid washed up on shore -- and must help her find love on land or she'll have to face an arranged marriage in the sea. Memorable line: "When you find love, I guess it's really beautiful. I mean, that's what I've read in magazines." Rated PG.

18. High School Musical 2 (2007): School's out! The gang gets jobs at the country club -- and enters the annual talent show, of course. Memorable line: "That girl's got more moves than an octopus in a wrestling match." Rated G.

19. Camp (2003): Musical theater camp? Fabulous! The campers may be misfits, but we learn about tolerance, friendship and dedication as they prepare for their big end-of-season show. Think "Glee" but at camp instead of school. Memorable line: "Michael Bennett's dead. Bob Fosse is dead. Times Square is a theme park now." Rated PG-13.

20. My Girl (1991): Set in the summer of 1972, the story follows tomboy Vada (Anna Chlumsky), her funeral director father (Dan Aykroyd) and Vada's BFF Thomas (Macaulay Culkin). It's at once funny, sad and sweet. Memorable line: "The first rule of eye makeup is that you can never wear enough blue eye shadow." Rated PG-13.

21. The Bad News Bears (1976):
That grouch Coach Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) turns out to be a sort of father figure for a young Tatum O'Neal and the rest of the team of misfit Bears. Memorable line: "Hey, Buttermaker! Maybe next spring you'll teach me how to hit." Rated PG.

22. Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977): The whole Peanuts crew heads to camp where they face bullies from a rival camp, raging rapids and scary animals. Memorable line: "Why can't I have a normal dog like everyone else?" Rated G.

23. Troop Beverly Hills (1989): When a Beverly Hills mom (Shelley Long) takes over her daughter's Wilderness Girl Troop, she decides camping should be done at a posh hotel. Memorable line: "We're the girls from Beverly Hills, shopping is our greatest thrill!" Rated PG.

24. Surf's Up (2007): Teenage penguins on surf boards? Sounds like summer fun to us! Memorable line: "This is what it's all about. What could be better than this?" Rated PG.

25. Rookie of the Year (1993):
A 12-year-old who can throw a pitch at more than 100 miles per hour joins the Chicago Cubs. Memorable line: "Pitcher's got a big butt." Rated PG.

Related: Kid Movies Adults Love

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