1. National Lampoon's Vacation. Chevy Chase stars as suburban everyman Clark W. Griswold, who drags his family across the country in search of theme-park Nirvana. The trip is beset by all manner of disaster (detours, accidents, dead relatives strapped to the roof, etc.), each one funnier than the last. Vacation was directed by Harold Ramis from a script by John Hughes and might be the best work either man ever did.
2. Stand By Me. Four boys take a mid-summer hike in search of a dead body in this film from director Rob Reiner. Stand By Me has an incredible cast (River Phoenix, Keifer Sutherland, Richard Dreyfuss) and is notable as the single best movie adaptation of a Stephen King story ever produced. I love it because it allows the kids to be kids, foul mouths and all.
3. Woodstock. The ultimate document of the ultimate summer vacation. Michael Wadleigh's film captures three days of peace, love and music (not necessarily in that order) from the famous summer 1969 concert in upstate New York. I caught Woodstock on TV a few weeks ago, and it's still a remarkable concert film and powerful recollection of an era.
4. Summer Rental. The late/great John Candy stars as an air traffic controller who just wants to take the fam to the beach for a few days of rest. Notable both for being filmed in Clearwater and for the scene in which a recent breast implantee shows Candy the goods and makes him touch 'em. Classic.
5. One Crazy Summer. The oddest film on this list, One Crazy Summer stars John Cusack and Demi Moore as young adults summering on Nantucket who run afowl of a local developer and his lunk-headed son. Directed by Savage Steve Holland (Better Off Dead), the film gleefully mixes in animation, sight gags and a choice sequence in which Bobcat Goldthwaite dons a Godzilla costume and tramples a large-scale model of the island.
6. Indian Summer. A Big Chill lite, Indian Summer follows a group of 30-somethings who reunite at a fondly remembered summer camp to reminisce, share deep secrets and then move on with their adult lives. The movie is well cast (Diane Lane, Alan Arkin and Kevin Pollock) and works as gentle, non-threatening summer entertainment.
7. I Know What You Did Last Summer. Starring TV Buffy Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jennifer Love Boob-it in a low-cut shirt, IKWYDLS was a post-Scream thriller written by the same writer (Kevin Williamson) and featured the Gorton's Fisherman as a hook-wielding villain. And I thought we could trust the Fisherman.
8. To Kill A Mockingbird. PoHo Wayne Garcia submitted this one, pointing out that the story takes place during the summer of 1932. I protested that when I think of TKAM, I think of lawyers and racism and stuff, not summer vacation. His response, via Twitter: "Yes, it is not a sun-and-boobs-athon; just trying to raise the bar." Consider it raised.
9. Wet Hot American Summer. Made by the same folks who did MTV's sketch-comedy show The State, WHAS is a funny last-day-of-camp movie set in 1981. Dorector David Wain went on to write last year's hilarious Role Models, and you have to love any film that includes a plummeting-to-Earth Skylab as a major plot device.
10. Summer School. Mark Harmon and Kirstie Alley star as teachers forced to spend the summer teaching every misfit in school. Many will find this movie insufferable, but it has developed a small cult following over the years. I watched Summer School a lot as a kid, and if memory serves, the jokes are stupid, there's a recreation of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and there's a hot chick in here somewhere. Perfect summer viewing.