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25 summer movies that feel like absolute sunshine

These summer flicks will have you feeling the heat and freedom of everyone's favorite season.
Someone Great / The Parent Trap / The Last Summer
Our picks include "Someone Great," "The Parent Trap" and "The Last Summer." Netflix / Alamy Stock Photo / Netflix
/ Source: TODAY

What time is it? Summer time!

Whether you’re home with the kids, escaping the heat or just looking for a fun movie night, summer is the perfect time to grab a cool lemonade and lean into the spirit of vacation.

Here are 25 movies to queue up this season for summer.

“High School Musical 2” (2007)

This iconic Disney Channel Original Movie has to be at the top of the list. It’s the sequel to the first “High School Musical” starring Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, and it has all of the summer vibes as the high schoolers navigate through their summer social lives.

Stream on Disney+ or rent from Prime Video and Google Play.

“Mamma Mia!” (2008)

Complete with ABBA music, Greek scenery and summer nostalgia, Amanda Seyfried and Meryl Streep take the spotlight in this musical movie in a search for family and connection amid an exciting wedding.

Stream on Netflix or rent from Prime Video and Google Play.

“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” (2018)

Here we go again! The highly-anticipated sequel to the original “Mamma Mia” movie explores a younger Donna (Lily James) journeying throughout Europe — and it also features favorites like Amanda Seyfried and Pierce Brosnan.

Stream on Netflix or rent from Prime Video and Google Play.

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982)

This classic 1980s movie features a gentle alien who finds himself lost on Earth — and soon becomes the summer project of a well-meaning young boy (Henry Thomas) who’s determined to make E.T. blend in with humans. This is perfect for a family movie night!

Rent on Prime Video or Apple TV.

“The Parent Trap” (1998)

Summer camp turns out to be the experience of a lifetime for a pair of newly-discovered twins (both played by Lindsay Lohan) who realize they were separated at birth, each sent to live with a separate parent. Now, they’ll pull off the twin swap of the century to experience what the other grew up with.

Stream on Disney+ or rent from Google Play or Apple TV.

“Call Me By Your Name” (2017)

Starring Timotheé Chalamet and Armie Hammer, the movie takes place in the summer of 1983 and tells a complicated story of the romantic relationship between the 17-year-old and the doctoral student in the fields of Italy.

Stream on Hulu or rent from Google Play or Apple TV.

“Fire Island” (2022)

A queer adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” this rom com follows a group of gay friends gathering on Fire Island in the summer for a week of relaxation — but when a wrench is thrown into the plans, their bonds are tested. The film includes actors like Bowen Yang, Joel Kim Booster and more.

Stream on Hulu.

“In the Heights” (2021)

The film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical practically sends the heat through the screen to your living room. Set in New York’s Washington Heights, the movie explores the tight-knit community and its issues through music, dance and stories of sacrifice. Anthony Ramos stars in the Lin-Manuel Miranda brainchild. 

Stream on Max or rent from Prime Video or YouTube.

“Forgetting Sarah Marshall” (2008)

Jason Segel plays a struggling musician who gets dumped by his far more famous girlfriend, played by Kristen Bell. To offset the pain, he plans a trip to Hawaii — just to find his ex and her new boyfriend staying in the same hotel. 

Stream on Max or rent from Apple TV and Google Play.

“The Sandlot” (1993)

For sports lovers, this summer classic is a must-watch. The coming-of-age story revolves around fifth-grader Scotty (Tom Guiry), who has a hard time making friends in his new town until he befriends players on the local Little League baseball team. 

Stream on Disney+ or rent on YouTube and Google Play.

“King Richard” (2021)

On your breaks from playing tennis this summer, turn to the big screen to keep the match going. This biopic starring Will Smith tells the story of Serena and Venus Williams’ dad, Richard Williams, and the role he played in guiding his daughters to success.

Stream on Hulu and Max or rent on Apple TV.

“Palm Springs” (2020)

Andy Samberg brings the humor to the forefront in this romantic comedy, as his character meets a reluctant maid of honor (Cristin Milioti) at a summer wedding — before they both get stuck in a time loop that has them reliving the same day over and over again.

Stream on Hulu.

“Ticket to Paradise” (2022)

This 2022 movie is set on the beautiful beaches of Bali, Indonesia, as exes played by Julia Roberts and George Clooney find themselves in the same rooms again for their daughter’s impromptu wedding, which they’re desperately trying to sabotage.

Stream on Peacock or rent from Apple TV or YouTube.

“Someone Great” (2019)

Summer in New York City is one of the most magical backdrops for a movie. Gina Rodriguez, playing a music journalist, navigates both a breakup and a big life move with her best friends (Brittany Snow and DeWanda Wise) as they have one last crazy night out on the town together.

Stream on Netflix.

“Us” (2019)

This Jordan Peele horror movie is not for the faint of heart. A woman (Lupita Nyong’o) returns to a summer beach house in Santa Cruz, California, with her husband and children (Winston Duke, Evan Alex and Shahadi Wright Joseph) and a bad feeling connected to a traumatic experience from her childhood. It’s not long before her intuition is proven right.

Rent from Prime Video or Apple TV.

“Jaws” (1975)

This classic will have you double-checking the water before you get in. A young woman gets killed by a shark off the coast of Cape Cod, and disagreements abound on what to do about the beaches. While officials discuss, two men (Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw) step in to help the police chief (Roy Scheider) capture the beast.

Rent on Prime Video or Apple TV.

“Teen Beach Movie” (2013)

Surf’s up! This Disney Channel classic stars Ross Lynch and Maia Mitchell as surfers who are swept away into an alternate storyline of “Wet Side Story” that they set out to fix so they can return home.

Stream on Disney+ or rent from YouTube and Google Play.

“Girls Trip” (2017)

Four best friends (Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish) who slowly grew apart reunite for the summer adventure of a lifetime and relive their college days together.

Stream on Peacock or rent from Apple TV and YouTube.

“Crazy Rich Asians” (2018)

Constance Wu plays a New Yorker and loving girlfriend to Nick Young (Henry Golding), who has her in for a surprise when she meets his family for a wedding in Singapore — and finds out that his family is actually one of the wealthiest in the country.

Stream on Hulu or rent from YouTube and Google Play.

“Adventureland” (2009)

A recent college graduate (Jesse Eisenberg) finds his exciting plans of traveling Europe come crashing down when the finances don’t add up. Instead, he takes up a summer job at the local amusement park, where things with his coworker (Kristen Stewart) turn out to be more exciting than he thought.

Stream on Paramount+ or rent from YouTube and Prime Video.

“Daddy Day Care” (2003)

An unemployed father (Eddie Murphy) spends his days taking care of his son. Soon, he realizes he can start a daycare center with his friend (Jeff Garlin) — but taking care of all of those kids and dealing with competition is a lot harder than it looks.

Stream on Max or rent from Apple TV or Google Play.

“I Know What You Did Last Summer” (1997)

The 1990s classic follows four friends who reconvene a year after committing a crime when they receive a frightening letter that someone witnessed it. That’s only the beginning as things start to unravel for the crew.

Rent from Google Play or Apple TV.

“The Last Summer” (2019)

Fresh high school graduates spend one last memorable summer together before they split off on their separate ways for their post-grad lives at college. Stars include KJ Apa, Maia Mitchell and Tyler Posey.

Stream on Netflix.

“Thelma & Louise” (1991)

Rewind the clock to the original girls’ trip with two best friends (Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon) whose vacation quickly turns into a run from the law as the trouble-making duo also toy with romance in the form of Brad Pitt.

Stream on AMC+ or rent from YouTube and Prime Video.

“Summer ‘03” (2018)

Though not a Y2K film as the title may suggest, this 2018 film stars Joey King, whose family is left reeling after her grandmother’s death. King’s character uses the summer as an opportunity to make the most of things and explore her sexuality.

Rent on Prime Video and Apple TV.