Memorial Day weekend is once again upon us only it looks more different now than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic as we all know has caused a great disturbance and confusion for many. It also means missing out on many of our favorite events. One thing that will be missed is the summer movie season. Now I know that movie going is not the biggest issue at hand, frankly it doesn’t even break the top fifty, but it is important to recognize the feeling of community we can feel when seeing a movie with a large crowd. This is what made the summer movie season so special and many of us have cherished memories. These summer memories usually include beating the heat to sit down to watch what will most likely be the biggest blockbuster of the year. These are the movies that often leave a gigantic impact on the theater going experience. Now being born in 93’ meant I missed the experience of getting to see the major summer movie blockbusters such as Back to the Future, Jaws, Die Hard etc. but I still have some pretty great memories of my own. Here are a few I’d like to share with you.
7. PINEAPPLE EXPRESS- Release Date August 6, 2008
The history books will show that the summer of 2008 was a mega milestone for movies. Christopher Nolan released the phenomenon that is The Dark Knight, (some more on that later) and we were given three major comedies that year; Step Brothers, Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express. The last one stays with me the most simply because it was one of the few times going to the movies got me grounded. 2008 Anthony was only fifteen and that meant fearing the dreaded “R” rating. A film about three pot smokers led by self-described Seth Rogen was not something I was going to convince my parents to see with me. So what is a kid to do? Lie to my parents and sneak in to the theater of course! All was well until my parents became savvy on figuring out how to check movie times. So long story short when my friends (who will remain nameless) were questioned one of them decided to confess and good ol’ me was grounded. And not just normal grounded. I’m talking miss the concert I was supposed to attend that weekend grounded. Oh to be a kid again and have these problems. Also Mr. Rogen you owe me three days of my life.
6. THE EXPENDABLES- Release Date August 13, 2010
Everyone remembers getting their license and the joy of finally being free from having to ask your mom to drop you off at the mall. Well having a summer birthday meant getting my license and being able to drive to the beach with all my friends. But more importantly it meant piling a bunch of idiots into my car to go see Sylvester Stallone’s most absurd movie yet. An explosive action flick that consisted of every meathead actor including Stallone, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis and even Dolph Lundgren. If you have seen The Expendables, then you know it was put here on this earth to be that over the top film that every guy wouldn’t shut up about for weeks on end. And that is exactly what happened for me and my friends, but what keeps the memory in my head was those ten minutes to the theater and ten minutes back home with a bunch of guys jammed in a car with very little care in the world. It’s a bitter sweet one because if you would have told me car rides with all of us together wouldn’t happen much more after that I would have definitely taken a longer way home.
5. BRIDESMAIDS- Release Date May 13, 2011
It is wonderful that Bridesmaids is still so memorable today and will clearly go down as one of the greatest comedies of all time. Many say it took them by surprise, but for me the most memorable thing about going to see this movie was leaving school early that day to go buy tickets. Remember the days of having to run to the theater in advance hoping it didn’t sell out. Knowing what Kristen Wiig was capable of on SNL and it being sold as a “female Hangover” (even though it’s so much better) I knew this one was going to be big. What I didn’t expect was to be in a long line to buy tickets hours before the 9 pm showing, and I definitely didn’t expect arriving twenty minutes early only to find front row seats available. It probably didn’t help we were a group of ten. To this day it is still so special to think there was a time where everyone wanted to laugh together. Seriously I am pretty sure this was the last time I was in a sold out theater for a comedy. In the end it is nice to know that we all shared the experience of watching Melissa McCarthy shit into a bathroom sink.
4. INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL- Release Date May 22, 2008
You can go back and forth on this all day but look the fourth Indiana Jones film is just not good. Cate Blanchett’s Russian accent and the somewhat passing of the torch to Shia LaBeouf were all awkward, but this wasn’t the major issue. No it was the promise Spielberg made of having a non-alien film only for the big reveal to be a flying saucer soaring out of a Mayan temple. But seeing the movie didn’t leave a bad taste in fact the opposite. It gave me a memory both memorable and quite hilarious. You see I went to the “Indiana Jones Fan Screening” at my local theater because you could see it an hour before anyone else. Now I am an Indiana Jones fan, but I will never call myself a major one. I may have seen “Last Crusade” once and I am pretty sure I fell asleep. But let me tell you there is something very enjoyable about watching a bunch of fanboys dressed in their best Indy gear convinced they are going to see the greatest film ever. Look I am not shitting on fanboys at all, hell I fall into the category in some areas, but to see them try to make sense of the ending is a joy in itself. To know we all sat through the same mess and to try and convince ourselves that Spielberg knocked it out of the park can be seen as sad, but I’d rather look at it as cathartic. Eventually our heroes will fail us, but it helps when we can eventually laugh it off together.
3. TARZAN- Release Date June 18, 1999
I am going to get a little emotional for this one so bear with me. My grandfather, or Pop as we called him, lived to ninety-four and I was lucky enough to have him in my life for twenty-six years. If you are reading this then you know I love movies and may have even asked what got me so into them. Well I never have a definitive answer, but one of the biggest reasons was Pop. His love for old cinema was endless, but what was even better was his excitement for new movies. My grandfather went to the movies all the time and to my own surprise I only attend the theater with him twice in my life. The first time was to see Disney’s Tarzan. It wasn’t because he wanted to see it, in fact I am sure he thought when me and my sister mentioned it he thought we meant the old Johnny Weisssmuller films (look it up people), but I can promise you I remember his eyes lighting up when he saw how much it meant to my sister and I. The excitement continued because it meant one of us got to sit next to Pop and I was the lucky winner. I don’t remember how I felt watching the film or how Phil Collins’ songs made me feel at the time, but I will always remember how it felt to be in my favorite place with my favorite person. I do remember asking him about it later in life. He did not remember it vividly like I still do (he was 94 after all) but he did share to me how much he missed going to the movies in his later years. Pop left this world on Father’s Day of 2019…Oh and for those of you wondering I asked him what his favorite movie was one time and he looked at me said. “I’m not sure, but I saw that Last Song movie with the Hannah Montana girl, it was great!”
2. PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST- Release Date July 7, 2006
The first Pirates film came out in 2003 and took over the world. We all know how it went, Jack Sparrow became an icon, Disney’s biggest risk paid off and a franchise that should have died is now getting a reboot. But back in 2006 we didn’t know just how massive it would all become. All we knew was there was a sequel, and everyone wanted to be there to see what Sparrow did next. Personally I see the original Pirates trilogy as one of the best ever. All three work so well and blend into one another perfectly. But the one that does this the best is the sequel. The first film was a major risk and so the promise of two more was not a thought that crossed audiences’ minds. Also Dead Man’s Chest was two years before Iron Man and six years before The Avengers. This means that when the credits rolled very few of us stayed until the very end, what happened before the credits was everything you needed to know. This lead to the filmmakers making one of the best damn endings ever. One that proves that post credit scenes are a poor man’s game to set up a sequel. Let me play out how the scene went with play by play thoughts in my head. Jack Sparrow is dead! “So sad.” Will, Elizabeth and the crew are mourning. “Who are you to cry Elizabeth you basically killed him!” Tia Dalma offers up the questions, what if they could save Jack? Would they sail to the ends of the earth and beyond? “Oh god they better go save his ass!” Well if they are going to do this then they need a captain. “Well they lost their captain so good luck finding one.” Cue boots slowly walking down the stairs. “Oh god who is this? Those boots seem familiar!” Captain Barbossa walks down the stairs, monkey and all. “Holy fucking shit!!!!!!!!!! He’s back!!! Wait how is he back?! Who fucking cares! He’s back!!!!” Barbossa asks what’s become of his ship as he bites into an apple and Jack the monkey screeches. Cue credits! Han’s Zimmer score blasting! Thirteen year old Anthony’s mind is fucking blown, and he goes and sees the movie five more times.
1. INCEPTION- Release Date July 16, 2010
Christopher Nolan is basically the new king of summer movies. His entire Dark Knight trilogy was all released in the summer, his period piece Dunkirk was a mega summer hit that continued to prove how important IMAX is, and he continues to make waves with his upcoming TENET which is most likely going to be the film that reopens movie theaters as its newly dropped trailer is practically begging to have the film be released this summer. I find myself in a small minority as his films don’t often do it for me, but even I cannot deny that when I enjoy them, I really lose myself to them. His movies are also shrouded in secrecy with their ambiguous trailers. So I clearly remember seeing the trailer for Inception during Christmas time of 2009 and counting the seconds until I could figure out why DiCaprio was climbing snow mountains, getting washed ashore on a deserted beach and what the hell that spinning top meant. So you know I was there opening day. Well I wasn’t expecting to see the first scene of the movie followed by the last. You see there was a major heatwave in Wildwood NJ that day followed by a thunderstorm. The movie theater I was attending was brand new (Shout out Franks Rio Theater) and let’s just say the staff wasn’t quite up to par just yet. So after twenty minutes the storm, which you could easily hear over Hans Zimmer’s thundering score, knocked the power out. The staff reassured us the backup generator was working and the movie would resume shortly which it did. Well it’s hard to tell you are seeing the scenes out of order when you haven’t seen the film before and have zero idea what is going on anyways, but I was pretty sure DiCaprio wasn’t supposed to make it home safely to his kids after he just said to Michael Caine that he was forbidden from returning home. So yea my theater watched the very famous final scene involving the spinning top twenty minutes into the movie. The storm became a blessing because before we could all realize this was the final moments of the film the power was cut out again. We were eventually told that they had to shut down for the day and everyone would be given passes to return tomorrow to finish the movie. This memory has been a comical one for many years now but let me tell you back when it happened it was far from fun. It was pretty damn confusing. Going home trying to make sense of what the actual hell I had just witnessed. I know people like to dissect Inception and prove how it all makes sense and isn’t as complex as some like to believe, well let me tell you that day it was the biggest enigma I had ever seen. Twenty four hours of hearing Leo say he can’t go home followed by him coming home to the grandest music ever heard on screen. When we all returned the next day many of the serious moments were met with laughter because we had all realized the story finally made sense; somewhat. So to all those who adore being mesmerized by Nolan’s creativity just know nothing will ever top the most confusing screening of Inception and the thirty minutes I thought DiCaprio made it home safe and sound without any dilemma whatsoever. Happy summer everyone!