I wonder how relevant the idea of “summer vacation” is for young people today. When I was growing up in the 1980s – my grade school years were 1979 to 1989 – it meant lazy days of watching movies, reading comic books, going to the neighborhood pool, riding my bike to the White Hen Pantry for an ice cream cone and wishing I didn’t have to cut the grass.
Now parents of young kids are lining up a constant stream of camps, classes, tutoring and other activities.
Perhaps it’s the nostalgia of the Gen Xers who are now making movies that has lead to this year being heavy on new releases set during summer vacation, particularly the kind of summer vacation where kids are set out to explore on their own, experiment with romance, get a character-building job and maybe get in a little trouble along the way.
There are at least three movies that have either already come out or are on their way later this year, all of which feature a young man who uses the freedom of summer to push the boundaries of who he is and how he relates to the world.
- All Summers End – Kaitlyn Dever and Tye Sheridan star in a story of first love and the reckless that comes with it
- Hot Summer Nights – Timothée Chalamet’s character is sent to Cape Cod by his mother to spend time with other family and, while he’s there, he becomes a low-level drug dealer supplying the whole are.
- Measure of a Man – Blake Cooper plays a kid who, to escape both his parents and the local bullies, take a job helping an old man maintain his property and learns some life lessons along the way.
Is this just a coincidence, one of those Deep Impact/Armageddon moments? Or is there some deep yearning for more innocent times behind it while also realizing those times were never really all that innocent?
It’s notable too that these all feature male protagonists with stories that come from their point of view.
These are by no means the first movies to hit this kind of theme. Kings of Summer from 2013 mined similar material, as did The Sandlot, Adventureland and more. Still, this is an unusually heavy confluence of titles that all take place in a time of dreams, sunburns and poorly-thought-out adventures.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.