Hello all you boys and girls out there in webland. I know many of you are reading this column from your champagne mansions in famous places like Los Angeles, California, or Glendale, California. I for one, however, live in Chicago: hard knock capitol of planet Earth. And here in Chicago, summer seems to be winding down a little early this year. As in, it’s been sweater weather since mid-July. And while that’s a welcome change from death-come-upon-me-this-Hellish-swelter-is-too-much heat we usually get treated to every August, it does make one not a little wistful for all the beach trips you forgot to make, all the picnics you didn’t have time for, and every cookout you napped through. And so in honor of all the summering that didn’t fit into our summer schedules, here are some things to watch when This Summer Simply Wasn’t Enough.
I am very white.
2. Dirty Dancing. If you are one of the many cretins who has never seen this movie, then you, sir or madam, are a discredit to our generation. I forced a group of 4th graders to watch this at my ninth birthday party, and I forced a group of college coeds to watch it in celebration of Patrick Swayze’s illustrious legacy when he passed on in 2009. Who knows how many individuals I’ve forced to watch this beautiful, sensual, rollicking summertime coming of age movie in between those two events? NO ONE.
Now, I know you’re going to tell me that this movie is dated, and goofy, and cheesy, and Patrick Swayze is way too much man for any one woman to handle; to those remarks I have two answers: shut your mouth, and NOBODY PUTS BABY IN THE GODDAMN CORNER.
This 1987 masterpiece tells the story of naïve, dweeby 18 year old Frances Houseman—“Baby”—on vacation with her family the summer before she starts at Mount Holyoake in 1963. She comes complete with bratty sister, rich parents, and what appears to be an entire Catskills summer resort filled with old Jews. She stumbles into one of the after-hours staff dance parties filled with what is clearly professional levels of DIRTY DANCING, and ends up, through several plot devices, in a tumultuous and dare I say way steamy relationship with Johnny, a resort dance instructor and fictional character that has absolutely no differentiation in mind from Patrick Swayze, the actual human person.
What ensues is a dialogue about classism and wealth culture, love, coming of age, privilege, dating, parenthood, honesty, and really a lot of Very Dirty Dancing. This is very clearly a movie about looking back on those last moments when you were carefree and without the weight of the world on your shoulders—i.e. summer. And if none of that sells you on it, just try to look at Patrick Swayze’s face and tell me the man wasn’t a goddamned champion.
3. “Feel It All Around” by Washed Out. Just try to listen to this #ChillJam and not feel like you’re sipping a maitai.
4. Take This Waltz. I’m going to give this movie a bit of a shorter write up, mostly because I’m trying to ride this end–of-summer, we’ve-got-our-whole-lives-ahead-of-us high as long as I can, and this movie is very, very sad.
It’s the bittersweet story of a romantic triangle between Margot (Michelle Williams), her husband Louie (Seth Rogen), and the handsome artist from across the street, Daniel (Luke Kirby). While this movie has plenty of sweet, romantic scenes, nothing ever seems clear or clean except the fact that these characters are getting older, and life is going to keep moving forward for them whether or not they have time to make the decisions they want the time to make.
It looks at the whole “last moments when you were carefree and without the weight of the world on your shoulders” issue from the other side—not the pleasantly nostalgic angle, but the one where you realize that the weight of the world has always been on your shoulders, you’re just finally old enough to notice it and also what a sloppy job you’ve done of holding it up, and how even knowing that you’ve got a big planet on your shoulders is not going to help you hold it up in any better way, because people are not designed to hold planets on their shoulders. That’s the feeling you leave this movie with.
But it’s also completely beautiful and honest and lovely, and it makes Toronto in the summer look like some kind of crazy dreamland.
5. Sugar Ray’s “Fly.” Because after that last movie we all need a little breather.
6. Wet Hot American Summer. Because the word “quintessential” was invented to describe this movie’s relationship to summer, and to my formative years as a viewer and a thinker.
I actually don’t think I know how to describe this movie other than to reenact the entire thing word for word. The plot of the thing is pretty simple: it’s the summer of 1981, and the last day of Camp Firewood, a Jewish summer camp in Maine. There’s a talent show everyone’s looking forward to, some hookups that have mere hours left to happen, and of course, water sports. What’s important about the movie is that it’s written by and starring half the members of The State, and therefor features Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, Janeane Garofalo, Paul Rudd, David Hyde Pierce, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Kerri Kenney, Ken Marino, Molly Shannon, Christopher Meloni, Elizabeth Banks, Judah Friedlander, and H. Jon Benjamin as a can of mixed vegetables.
And things only get weirder. It’s honestly one of the most fun movies to watch that I’ve ever seen. Just. Experience. It.