What time is it? Summertime! At least that’s what High School Musical 2 had everyone screaming when it was released nearly 15 years ago. And while the Disney Channel original movie didn’t start the teen summer movie genre, it definitely helped usher it into the modern age.
Now, there are dozens of summer movies dedicated solely to adolescent audiences. These movies don’t just have a summer vibe to them – they actually take place over the summer break. From summer romances to summers spent playing baseball with friends, there’s a movie for everyone enjoying the season. Teens and audiences of all ages can live vicariously through these characters and beat the heat plaguing their own regions.
10 High School Musical 2 (2007) – 5.1
A little over a year after the success of High School Musical, the East High Wildcats returned to the small screen for an epic summer adventure. The movie follows Troy, Gabriella, and the rest of the Wildcats as they work at a local country club owned by Sharpey and Ryan’s parents.
This is a great summer movie because it combines fun with the realities of summer jobs, which makes it relatable for teen audiences. It also features some seriously underrated High School Musical songs like “Gotta Go My Own Way.”
9 Camp Rock (2008) – 5.1
The Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato became official Disney Channel darlings in 2008 when Camp Rock premiered in the summer of 2008. The musical DCOM centers on Mitchie, an aspiring musician who gets to attend the prestigious Camp Rock alongside her mom, who has been hired to be the camp’s chef. Instead of telling the truth, Mitchie lies about her family in order to get into the good graces of the popular clique.
Most teenagers would kill for the chance to spend the summer away from their parents at a fun camp where celebrities go, which is what makes Camp Rock such a great summer movie.
8 Aquamarine (2006) – 5.3
Loosely based on the young adult novel of the same name, Aquamarine centers on two best friends who stumble upon a mermaid who got swept away in a summer storm and is now trapped in the community pool. The discovery derails the best friends’ plan to spend their last few summer days together as they must help Aqua find true love to prove her father wrong.
Aquamarine has a lot of summer adventure packed into the teen movie, including an adorable carnival scene, but it’s the heartwarming friendship between Claire and Hailey that makes this a great summer movie.
7 The Last Summer (2019) – 5.5
The Last Summer is an underrated anthology movie that follows a group of high school graduates who are trying to soak up their last summer together before heading off to their respective colleges. Some of the stories include high school sweethearts who have decided to break up before leaving for college and a young working-class student whose dreams of college seem to be slipping away.
With five different stories following eight different characters, there is bound to be a summer story every teen can relate to. The movie also features familiar young adult actor faces like KJ Apa, Maia Mitchell, and Tyler Posey, to name a few.
6 The Last Song (2010) – 5.9
Hollywood returned to Nicholas Sparks’ books with a younger protagonist in 2010 with the release of The Last Song. The movie follows Ronnie, a rebellious teenager who is being forced to spend her summer with her brother and their estranged father in a quiet beach town. Against all odds, Ronnie ends up bonding with a local and her father and even reignites her passion for music over the course of the summer.
Like all Nicholas Sparks adaptations, The Last Songs is equal parts romance and dramatic. It also features tons of fun summer activities like saving sea turtles, beach volleyball games, and quiet nights under the stars.
5 Teen Beach Movie (2013) – 5.9
Teen Beach Movie is one of the most underrated Disney Channel original movies of all time. The movie centers on Bradu and McKenzie, who magically get transported into a 1960s musical movie after wiping out while surfing. Now, the two must figure out a way to get back to the real world or risk disappearing forever.
A somewhat modern take on Grease, Teen Beach Movie really leans into the summer vibe since the movie takes place at a beach. It also features fun sleepovers, makeovers, and of course, a great soundtrack.
4 Along For The Ride (2022) – 6.1
Netflix has a solid lineup of teen summer movies releasing in 2022 and Along for the Ride kicked things off. Based on the Sarah Desson novel of the same name, the movie follows Auden, a recent high school graduate who is spending the summer with her estranged father and his new family. While there, she ends up bonding with a quiet, insomniac who helps Auden come out of her own shell.
Along for the Ride features all the great staples of a summer movie, from sleepless nights adventuring to beach bonfires with friends and epic fourth of July celebrations; the movie leaves no stone unturned.
3 Finding Ohana (2021) – 6.1
When Finding Ohana was released on Netflix in 2021, it instantly drew comparisons to The Goonies. The movie centers on two siblings who return to Oahu and discover a journal that promises to lead them to a long-lost treasure. As they set out to find the treasure, the siblings reclaim their bond and their Hawaiian heritage.
While Finding Ohana doesn’t have the typical summer movie scenes, it does feature tons of adventure, which makes up for it. The movie also features a fun romantic subplot and a heartwarming sibling relationship.
2 The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants (2005) – 6.5
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was adapted from the 2001 novel series of the same name. The movie follows four best friends who discover a pair of magic jeans that fits them all, despite their different body types. With plans to spend their summer apart, the girls decide to buy the jeans and send them to each other over the summer to stay connected.
In addition to being a great movie about female friendship, the movie is a great summer movie because it features all kinds of summer stories. Lena takes viewers on a summer in Greece, Bridget shows viewers what it’s like at a sports camp, Carmen’s story explores the complexities of having divorced parents, and Tibby’s summer proves one can have adventures without leaving one’s hometown.
1 The Sandlot (1993) – 7.8
The Sandlot is arguably one of the best sports movies of all time and a must-watch summer movie. After moving to Los Angeles in the summer of 1962, Smalls befriends a local group of boys who spend their summer days playing baseball at the local sandlot. The boys’ fun, stress-free summer takes a turn when they accidentally hit a baseball signed by Babe Ruth into a backyard guarded by a dog nicknamed “The Beast.”
While The Sandlot does feature a lot of baseballs, it also explores other summer fun activities. Most notably, the boys attend a local fourth of July carnival and even have a sleepover in the sandlot tree house.
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