Finding Ohana
(Netflix)

Beat the Heat With the 10 Best Summer Movies on Netflix

Ah, summertime! When you head outside—hit up the pool or beach, go camping, have a bonfire, drink your coffee at the tables outside your local coffee spot, sit inside with all the windows closed and lights off and watch the best summer movies on Netflix. What have you!

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Or, it’s so brutally hot that you stay inside, under the splendid aura of the AC. One classic solution is going to the movie theater, but with inflation and all, you might be hoping to save a few bucks. But if you already have a Netflix subscription, you have an overwhelmingly large library of films at the tips of your fingers, without having to leave your own home.

Perhaps that library is too overwhelmingly large. Netflix doesn’t have a lot of the go-to summer classics—films like Grease, Do the Right Thing, The Sandlot, or Mamma Mia. So we have to get a little creative in hunting for the optimal Netflix summer films. But there are good ones, don’t worry.

1. The Meg 2: The Trench

Jason Statham kicks a very very big shark in The Meg 2
(Warner Bros.)

Netflix does not have Jaws. Nor do they have Sharknado. What they do have is The Meg 2: The Trench, which boasts an impressive 27% on Rotten Tomatoes—and before you ask, no, Netflix does not have the first Meg movie. Just The Meg 2. But I don’t think the plot’s too complicated to jump right into the sequel.

One of my personal favorite summer activities is to get together with friends and watch a ridiculous, bad movie together, all the better if it’s a nautical-themed film (very summer) that stars Jason Statham and a very, very large shark.

2. Space Jam

Michael Jordan plays basketball with Bugs Bunny and Marvin the Martian in Space Jam
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

No, we’re not talking the recent LeBron James-starring Space Jam. We’re talking the original 1996 Space Jam, where Michael Jordan’s horrendous acting skills shine in their full, beautiful glory. Summer films can be about nostalgia, and Space Jam is perhaps the ultimate summer-tinged example of that currently available on Netflix. It’s ridiculous, but it holds up if you’re simply just looking for a silly time. (And did you remember that Wayne Knight, a.k.a. Newman from Seinfeld, is in this thing?)

Pair with Pop Rocks and other ’90s candy for the optimal experience.

3. Wine Country

Three friends laugh and raise their wine glasses in 'Wine Country.'

Did you know that the MVPs of SNL got together in 2019 and made a getaway comedy? Wine Country stars Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer, and Rachel Dratch—the true dream team!—as longtime friends who all go on a trip together to Napa Valley. Tests of friendship ensue. While Wine Country is no, say, Bridesmaids, it’s light enough for summer fare.

4. Finding ‘Ohana

Finding Ohana
(Netflix)

Finding ‘Ohana is a Netflix Original from 2021—and it has a very solid 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film is a twist on the classic “child sent away for summer vacation, only to find a treasure hunt” brand of summer film. This one involves a 12-year-old from New York getting sent to rural O’ahu and hunting for a shipwrecked treasure. But as anyone who’s seen Lilo and Stitch knows, ” ‘ohana means family,” so perhaps the real treasure was family all along.

5. Crazy Rich Asians

Michelle Yeoh, from left, Henry Golding and Constance Wu appear in a scene from the film Crazy Rich Asians
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

Crazy Rich Asians strikes several key criteria for a summer movie. It’s a love story (or, rather, a story about love?), it’s a mother-daughter relationship movie, and it takes place in a warm place with highly opulent displays of wealth. In other words, it’s excellent fun.

6. One Piece Film: Red

The Straw Hat Pirates cheer on Uta's performance in One Piece Film: Red
(Toei Company)

The summer musical is a quintessential subgenre of summer movie, but there has been a woeful deficit of musicals in general in the last decade … or two. The most recent summer musical (and a huge summer box office hit in its native Japan) is, surprisingly, One Piece Film: Red. The Straw Hat Pirates go to a music festival, but the star of the show, Uta, has an ulterior motive for throwing the big show.

Red’s songs are genuinely incredible, thanks in so small part to Ado’s amazing voice and the songwriting talents of several of Japan’s hottest bands. And while some (unnecessary) character cameos go over the heads of new viewers, it’s generally accessible to the One Piece newbie.

7. Footloose

Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer in Footloose (1984)
(Paramount Pictures)

In summer, we go to the classics. We go to the music, to the dancing. We go, in short, to Footloose—the tale of a young man moving back to his conservative hometown and trying to make everyone lighten up a little. The idea of a small town deeming “rock music” illegal might seem silly now, but … actually, wait, does it?

8. Beverly Hills Cop

Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop.
(Paramount Pictures)

While movies about cops feel a little … different these days, Eddie Murphy during his prime is kind of in his own category. Beverly Hills Cop, which came out in 1984, is a comedy classic for a reason—and it takes place in the land of permanent summer, Los Angeles. The film also has a steady stream of action, making it a breezy, exciting watch.

In fact, Beverly Hills Cop is such a classic that a sequel, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F, will be dropping on Netflix on July 3, a full 40 years after the release of the original.

9. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

(John Wilson/Netflix)

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery may have originally come out in November, but it sure screams “summer” as it ages. Daniel Craig speaking in a southern accent and solving mysteries while surrounded by (yet again!) eternally warm climates and financial opulence helps. Glass Onion is a delightful watch with all the right amounts of camp.

10. American Graffiti

Harrison Ford in American Graffiti
(Lucasfilm)

“High schoolers let lose at the start or end of summer vacation” has become an entire genre of summer comedy—like Superbad, Booksmart, etc. American Graffiti was not only among the first films to test those waters, but George Lucas’s first big hit is commonly cited as the first-ever summer blockbuster. And the origin of the summer blockbuster—especially when it starts a young Harrison Ford—must surely be the ultimate summer film, right?


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Author
Kirsten Carey
Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.