For many of us, attending summer camp was an annual ritual that filled our childhood summer vacations with activities like hiking, canoeing, fishing, and cookouts. However, even if your days of going to summer camp are long gone, you can still vicariously experience the mosquitoes, sunburns, pranks, and other summer camp fundamentals through one of the many movies that have been made about the experience. From the satirical and the crass, to the heartbreaking and the ridiculous, here are seven movies that explore the summer camp experience in unusual ways.
7. The Parent Trap (1998)
Long before her personal life became fodder for tabloids, a young Lindsay Lohan starred in this reboot of Disney’s original 1961 film about two identical twins of divorced parents who unexpectedly meet each other at summer camp. Shenanigans ensue. Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson star as the estranged parents of the twins. The film was a commercial success when it was released and received generally positive reviews from most critics. The Parent Trap currently has an 86 percent “Certified Fresh” rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
6. Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
Set at a Jewish summer camp in the summer of 1981, this David Wain-directed film parodies many of the clichés seen in other classic camp movies from the 1980s. Although the film was a critical and commercial failure when it was originally released, it has since acquired cult status thanks to its all-star cast of up-and-coming comedians and its 1980s-era soundtrack. While the critics at Rotten Tomatoes give it a dismal 31 percent approval rating, the audience approval rating stands at 81 percent.
Written by Wain and Michael Showalter, the film stars many of the biggest names in comedy today, including Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Marguerite Moreau, Paul Rudd, Molly Shannon, Christopher Meloni, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Ian Black, Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, Zak Orth, A.D. Miles, and H. Jon Benjamin. Due to its enduring popularity, the film is getting a second life at Netflix as a eight-episode prequel series that will debut on July 31, 2015.