MEATBALLS, from left: Cindy Girling, Margot Pinvidic, Bill Murray, Sarah Torgov (top), Norma Dell'Agnese, Kristine DeBell, 1979, © Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection
Photo: ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Col/©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Col
Photo: ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Col/©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Col

Ten movies to celebrate unofficial start of summer on Memorial Day

Memorial Day traditionally marks the start of the summer movie season but the pandemic has put a kibosh on that. 

So here are a ten light, frothy films available online and on TV to get you through the weekend thinking about sunshine, summer camp, baseball, road trips, the beach and more. 

“Meatballs” (1979)

Free on Vudu, Tubi, YouTube

This early Bill Murray hit made him a star. He plays Trooper, an immature summer camp counselor who somehow inspires his fellow counselors and campers to greater heights against a snooty rival camp with an epic speech that ends in the chant “It just doesn’t matter!”

“The Money Pit” (1986)

On Netflix

This ridiculous Tom Hanks/ Shelley Long comedy hits the hammer on the worst home renovation ever, hopefully making you feel good about whatever home improvement project the pandemic has forced you to face. Expect no shortage of outlandish pratfalls and heavy objects (and people) falling through floors and walls and out windows.

“Flirting With Disaster” (1996)

On HBO

What’s a summer without a road trip? This Ben Stiller comedy features his adopted character driving around the country trying to find his biological parents. But it’s far loonier than it sounds with some great actors involved including Tea Leoni, Patricia Arquette, Mary Tyler Moore, Lily Tomlin and Alan Alda. 

“Mr. 3000” (2004)

Free on Vudu

Miss baseball? “Mr. 3000” stars Bernie Mac as an unpleasantly entitled baseball player who quits when he hits the magic 3,000 hits. But three of those hits are invalidated and he comes back, with diminished skills at age 47, to get those hits with the Brewers. It’s a comedic road to redemption.

“Forgetting Sarah Marshall” (2008)

On Starz and for rental $3.99 on Amazon Prime, Vudu and iTunes, among others

Hankering for a great beach vacation and plenty of laughs? Jason Segel plays a sad-sack average dude who gets dumped by his girlfriend (Kristen Bell), who starts dating a British rock star (Russell Brand). They end up vacationing at the same Hawaiian resort, where Segel’s character meets the “right” girl (Mila Kunis) while still frequently sobbing over his less-than-deserving ex. The humor will go down as easy as a Mai Tai.

“Crazy, Stupid, Love” (2011)

On HBO

If summer is the time to just enjoy the three words in the film title, welcome to this frothy concoction starring big-name actors such as Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei. Gosling’s Jacob plays the muse to Carrell’s bummed-out divorcée character Cal and it’s as amusing in execution as the set up.

“Heart Beats Loud” (2018)

On Hulu

Summertime usually means more family time, though the current world has changed the equation. But it’s still fun to watch Nick Offerman blend music and father-daughter bonding into a delightfully good time without a big plot or social commentary weighing it down.

“Troop Zero” (2019)

On Amazon Prime

In true “Bad News Bears”/”The Mighty Ducks” fashion, this retro 1970s-era underdog story set in rural Georgia won’t challenge your brain but will warm even the coldest of hearts. An oddball, space-loving girl gathers a group of misfits for an off-brand Girl Scout troop in order to compete at a jamboree for a shot to have their voices featured on a record to be shot out in space by NASA. Bonus: Jim Gaffigan, Viola Davis and Allison Janney play key adults.

“Blinded by the Light” (2019)

On HBO

There may be no concerts this summer, but music will still sooth the soul. Set in the 1980s, an Indian-British teen who aspires to be a songwriter discovers Bruce Springsteen and his life is never the same again.

“Shazam” (2019)

On HBO 

Superhero movies are typically the bread and butter of the summer film slate but not this year. So go back 12 months and enjoy this tongue-in-cheek entry which is more “Big” than “Batman.” 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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