Our last summer was stolen from us. There’s no other way to put it — isolating ourselves in our homes, scared of a plague that’s still happening today, any kind of debauchery seemed unreachable during the summer of 2020. However, the summer of 2021 is much more promising. With vaccines rolling out and places reopening, there’s a cautious sense of hope in the air. What better way to ease into a #HotVaxxedSummer than through the magic of the movies?
Whether you want to remember what it’s like to party it up before hitting the clubs, or just need a little more time before you’re ready for the real thing, these five films will have something worth learning from this summer.
1. Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar (2021), d. Josh Greenbaum
Walking out your front door nowadays can feel like sensory overload. The sun is too bright, the grass too green, and the coffee shop you can now safely visit is too loud. Certainly, post-vaccine life can feel like a surreal fever dream, and no other movie released this year (that I’ve seen so far, anyway) captures the unhinged nature of returning to some semblance of normalcy quite like Barb and Star. Two Midwestern besties traveling to Florida and leaving their hometown for the first time might sound treacly at first. Throw in a supervillain out for revenge, Jamie Dornan showcasing his comedy chops, a lot of tropical print, and baby, you’ve got a chaotic movie going! Get inspired for your first beach trip in a few years, or just sit on the couch with a good piña colada and enjoy the ride — the choice is yours!
2. Hustlers (2019), d. Lorene Scafaria
One of my most joyous theater-going experiences of 2019 had to be a rowdy screening of Hustlers. Come for strippers scamming rich men for their money, stay for the true empathy and sincere look at female friendships in a capitalist hell world. It’s a bunch of fun, with cameos from Cardi B, Lizzo, and one that’s too good to ruin (even if this movie has been out for almost three years at this point)! What is there not to like?
3. Magic Mike XXL (2015), d. Gregory Jacobs
Quite possibly the best road trip movie ever made featuring male strippers — Magic Mike XXL is a noted POME favorite. There’s a good reason for it, too! You’ve got a gaggle of himbos hitting the road for one last chance at stripping glory, excessive dance sequences upon excessive dance sequences, and even Donald Glover! It embodies the feeling and the spirit of an endless summer spent with friends, and isn’t that the energy we all need to harness right now?
4. Female Trouble (1974), d. John Waters
There is something about living “normally” again that feels taboo. When I inhaled my first gulp of frosty air in a movie theater, sans mask, I couldn’t help but feel reckless. Embrace the magic of feeling fabulously bad by living vicariously (or taking a few notes from) Dawn Davenport, the protagonist of Female Trouble. John Waters’s iconic movie about a woman possessed by beauty is a must-see before venturing out into our strange new world. Harness the confidence and the IDGAF attitude of Divine as Dawn, and take the world by the horns — but try not to murder anyone, please.
5. Birds of Prey (2019), d. Cathy Yan
Break-ups are a time of rebirth and healing, and both of those concepts can apply to what we’re all working through right now. Why not watch Dr. Harleen Quinzel, PhD, go above and beyond post-break up? She even makes new friends and becomes a hero (kind of) along the way. There’s nothing like a nice reminder that while we’re not completely out of the woods yet with the pandemic, things are turning around slowly, and the possibilities for change and growth in the wake of the past year and a half are limitless!
No matter how you’re venturing out into the world this summer, slowly or right away, any of these movies is a guaranteed great time. From besties on the beach, to himbos on the road, to women committing crimes (and looking killer), there’s something here to inspire you to reach out and live life fully this summer no matter what!