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Five summer movie favorites to beat the heat

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A favorite summer movie, a bowl of fresh-popped popcorn and an ice-cold drink provide the perfect entertainment for a hot summer afternoon or evening. Whether the movie is an old summer classic or a recent release, it is a great way to escape the heat. This short list of summer favorites provides something for everyone. When the summer doldrums strike, a couple of summer hits back-to-back provide quick and easy entertainment for the whole gang.

"National Lampoon's Vacation"

"National Lampoon's Vacation" is a summer classic that has kept audiences laughing since its release in 1983. When Clark Griswold, played by Chevy Chase, takes his family on vacation cross-country to Walley World amusement park, everything that can possibly go wrong does. Classic humor coupled with forced family bonding provides the perfect combination of laughs and sentiment. Beverly D'Angelo in the role of Griswold's patiently persevering wife and Anthony Michael Hall and Dana Barron as his children, Rusty and Audrey, play excellent supporting parts, but Chase steals the show playing Griswold with a wonderful touch of optimistic enthusiasm regardless of the trials that come his way. Summer viewers of "National Lampoon's Vacation" will be glad they are comfortably watching a movie instead of taking a cross-country road trip as they laugh out loud at the timeless humor.

"Bridesmaids"

Everyone loves a summer wedding, and the hit summer comedy "Bridesmaids" proves quite the treat. This 2011 summer release combines superb characterizations with off-the-wall humor in a guilty-pleasure summer favorite. Kristen Wiig stars as down-on-her-luck, ex-bakery owner Annie who really wants to prove herself as the best maid of honor ever for her best friend Lillian. Unfortunately, Lillian has a new friend who is ready to outdo Annie every step of the way. A quirky cast of fellow bridesmaids, including Melissa McCarthy as Megan, Ellie Kemper as Becca and Wendi McLendon-Covey as Rita, keep the humor flowing while just a touch of romance adds a bit of heat to this summer comedy. "Bridesmaids" proves that men do not own the physical comedy genre and provides the perfect summer entertainment for a girls' night in.

"Moonrise Kingdom"

Wes Anderson's 2012 release, "Moonrise Kingdom," is a wonderfully whimsical, family-friendly pick set in the summer of 1965. Beautiful island scenery off the coast of New England provides the backdrop for this charming story about two youths who fall in love. Suzy is a misunderstood preteen with sad, troubled parents. Sam is an orphan who is currently absent-without-leave from Khaki Scout Camp. When the pair realizes that they are right for each other, they run away into the New England wilderness. With a huge storm brewing, the adults in their lives, along with a search party from their small town, work to get them safely back home. Sad, lonely adults contrast strikingly with the hopeful exuberance of the young people in this acclaimed summer hit. As each individual struggles with deep personal issues, the storm provides the ballast to bring everyone together.

"Jaws"

Fans of classic horror flicks will enjoy rediscovering Steven Spielberg's 1975 summer hit, "Jaws." After a shark attack takes the life of a young woman, the mayor of Amity Island, a popular resort town, refuses to close the beach or alert the public. After attacks escalate, the people realize that the terror is more than an ordinary shark. A battle of the wills between men and beast ensues. Spielberg uses a variety of old-fashioned special effects, staging techniques, camera angles and music to build tension towards scene shockers that will have viewers jumping even after several viewings. Between scares, "Jaws" classic lines and campy visuals create nerve-relieving chuckles and plenty of summer fun.

"Wet Hot American Summer"

The 2001 cult classic "Wet Hot American Summer" provides an often manic and always ridiculous parody of 1980s teen summer-camp films. The all-star comedy cast, led by Janeane Garofalo, Paul Rudd, David Hyde Pierce and Michael Showalter, carries the film with silly gags, witty one-liners and comedic scenes that play like comedy sketches. This film's biggest appeal is for those who remember the original camp movies of the 1980s or those who had their own share of summer camp experience. "Wet Hot American Summer" combines well with the original camp counselor classics "Meatballs" and "Meatballs Part II" for a summer camp triple feature of fun.

Long summer days are the perfect time to enjoy fun films from summers past. Favorite summer films span genres from comedy to drama to fear-inducing terror. A few favorites provide a relaxing follow-up to a day at the beach or an evening barbecue.

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