Sum’ like it hot

Ah, summer – where would we be without it? Waiting anxiously for autumn to come along, presumably.

And where would we be without summer movies? I’m not just referring here to the annual blockbusters, but also what might broadly be termed ‘summer’ films: those with a theme, vibe or temporal placement within the warmest of all seasons. But how to spot them? Simply look out for these tell-tale clichés – sorry, I meant ‘signs’ – and enjoy the metaphorical ‘endless summer’ that is cinema:


The main character is a young boy from a damaged family who ‘learns’ something about life after finding a dead body down by the old Henderson place. Which is pretty ironical, when you think about it.

Or is an old geezer living in the endless flat plains of Kansas who feels a pressing urge to achieve ‘closure’ on certain issues before he pops his clogs somewhere around the two-hour mark.

Or is/are a group of sparky young girls hitching their way across America for some reason or other. Like, one of them is upset because her parents are divorcing, or some junk. Oddly, despite the fact that these ingénues are placing their trust in complete strangers – in a nation with the highest incidence of serial killers on the planet – nothing bad happens to them.

The film starts with a bunch of kids bursting out the doors of their high school and chucking their books in the hedge, to the strains of Alice Cooper’s School’s Out (for Summer).

Any romantic couple that hooks up at the start of the summer is doomed to tragedy. One of them will die of a terminal illness before the first leaves fall from the trees.

Something disastrous happens during the annual Fourth of July celebrations. Ideally these are taking place in a New England fishing village, and even more ideally, the something disastrous will involve one of the pods on the carousel being tampered with and flying off into the night. Its occupants are then impaled on one of the ubiquitous white picket fences.

Unattractive nerds lose their virginity to preposterously good-looking foreign exchange students. On the beach, by moonlight.

Several of the characters surf. It is, apparently, a ‘source’ and can change your life, swear to God. The best surfer in the bunch subsequently ships out to ’Nam, man, where the VC show scant regard for the fact that he needs his legs to stand up on the board, and proceed to blow them off.

A trip to Rome results in a super-hot romance with a beautiful Italian (gender directly inverse to gender of main protagonist).

All baseball games are played under a softly setting sun, golden dust drifting gently through the air as the plucky little slugger at the centre of the action hits a homer – whatever the hell that is – and stirring orchestral music sweeps the audience along in a tidal wave of emotional manipulation designed to hide the fact that the preceding 106 minutes blew the big one.

Fat men waddle about the place, sweating like Phil Spector in an overly warm witness stand, fanning their face with a paper and remarking to everybody, ‘Whew – hot enough for ya today?’

The film begins with the narrator – usually Richard Dreyfuss, for some reason – intoning, ‘After that summer, my life would never be the same again.’

There are chronic water shortages throughout New York as a steaming heatwave lays waste to the city. The cheeky little scamps in the Bronx, though, somehow find water to spray on passing convertibles, soaking/annoying the driver who responds by swearing at them in a comical way.

A huge shark eats lots of bathers in a small coastal town.

A blazing hot sun appears in shot quite frequently.

The movie has the word ‘Summer’ in the title.

The credits roll over likeable potheads, pneumatic babes in string bikinis and fun-loving off-duty cops partying on down at the beach.


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