Mandatory Staff Picks: 10 Nostalgic Summer Camp Movies That Will Take You Back
Ah, summer camp, that blissful escape from the boredom of staying at home with your siblings and parents for sweltering months on end. Sure, there were bug bites and sunburns and bullying to contend with, but for the most part, summer camp was a reprieve from the doldrums of endless days. It’s too bad adulthood doesn’t offer a summer camp experience (not that anyone could go this year anyway thanks to coronavirus). In lieu of time-travel back to our youth or some kind of summery adventure off-the-grid, we offer you these 10 nostalgic summer camp movies that will take you back to the good ol’ days.
Cover Photo: Focus Features
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A fitness fanatic (Ben Stiller) tries -- and fails -- to whip fat boys into shape at Camp Hope in this comedy co-written by Judd Apatow. The lesson? Don't come between a kid and his Cheetos.
9. 'Little Darlings'
This 1980 film focuses on a pair of teen girls competing with one another to lose their virginity at summer camp. Among their potential suitors? An adolescent Matt Dillon.
8. 'The Parent Trap'
Identical twins separated in infancy find one another at summer camp, then engage in some serious pranks in the name of sibling rivalry. When they're forced to bunk together, they plot to get their now-divorced parents back together again. Though the original film was released in 1961 (skip the 1998 Lindsay Lohan remake), it can still entertain modern audiences today.
7. 'Troop Beverly Hills'
Can prissy kids from Beverly Hills be converted into nature-loving Wilderness Girls? Ditzy Phyllis Nefler (Shelley Long) is going to try, and you'll laugh along with her as she stubbornly bumbles it again and again.
6. 'But I'm a Cheerleader'
Natasha Lyonne stars in this brash comedy about the kind of camp no one wants to go to: gay conversion therapy camp. Though forced to participate in ridiculously heteronormative activities, she bonds with fellow misfits and eventually plots her escape.
5. 'Addams Family Values'
Wednesday Addams (Christina Ricci) isn't the summer camp type, so when she finds herself at Camp Chippewa, she gives the white, privileged campers hell. If you hated summer camp, you'll find a kindred spirit in this comedy.
4. 'American Pie Presents: Band Camp'
After being sent to band camp as punishment, a young man stops hating the nerdy atmosphere long enough to fall for a fellow camper in yet another installment of the popular sex comedy franchise.
3. 'Wet Hot American Summer'
By 2001 when this film was released, summer camp movies had become a joke. Hence the need for a parody starring Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd, and Elizabeth Banks as counselors at a chaotic camp on the brink of closure.
Scrappy Camp North Star goes up against haughty Camp Mohawk in this 1979 comedy about triumphant underdogs that launched the summer camp film genre and Bill Murray's career.
1. 'Moonrise Kingdom'
Wes Anderson's modern classic has it all: summer camp, young love, and a stellar cast. Lose yourself among the Khaki Scouts at Camp Ivanhoe in this picturesque and near-perfect film. You won't ever want to leave.