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Pull Up a Tent and Roast S’mores — It’s Time for Summer Camp Movies

by Sarah Soliman

With summer camp at The Picture House coming up in August, we’ve been thinking about some of our favorite camp movies! Get in a summer mood (while staying cool indoors) with these staff picks!

Meatballs (PG) — Clay Bushong, Director of Programming & Business Development

No movie says summer camp more than Meatballs. Marking both Ivan Reitman’s directorial debut and Bill Murray’s first starring role, this great coming-of-age story has everything to bring you back to that awkward feeling of being a young adult thrown into a foreign situation and making the best of it. Equal parts uncomfortable, funny, and inspiring (and, spoiler alert, who doesn’t love when the poor kids triumph over the rich kids!) this film will whoosh you back to a time when life was somehow both easier and more difficult — but difficult for all the right reasons.

Dirty Dancing (PG-13) — Jon Bingham, Operations & Theater Manager

What do you do when your parents drag you off to a sleepy summer resort? Find trouble in the form of a handsome dance instructor and have the time of your life. 


Wet Hot American Summer (R) — Sam Coughlin, Development Associate

Nothing leaves you scratching your head quite like the adventure of watching Wet Hot American Summer. The absurdity of this movie is completely in line with the chaos of summer camp itself, especially during the early 80s. Add in a cast of huge celebrities and you have a period piece that transcends generations while depicting the true sense of freedom and insecurity that going to camp offers to so many kids. The mixture of young love, illicit substances, and ongoing Cold War rhetoric are all prominently displayed within this movie and work incredibly well in justifying the wacky and unpredictable nature of its plot. The characters are priceless, whether it be the lovable jerk Andy (Paul Rudd) or the complex nature of Susie (Amy Poehler) and Ben’s (Bradley Cooper) relationship, I think everyone can see their own childhoods lived out through these characters. Also, no one can deny the fact that toxic sludge creates an all-time cinematic performance by a can of mixed vegetables.

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (R) — Laura deBuys, President & Executive Director

There’s no better time than summer to watch a movie about camp — and no better time than the summer of 2022 to watch this documentary about the positive change that individual and collective action can bring. Truly inspirational!

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution

The Parent Trap (1998, PG) — Andrea Pace, Director of Membership & Special Events

I can’t begin to tell you how many times my daughters and I have watched the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap. Starring Lindsay Lohan in her film debut, this romantic comedy follows twin girls separated at birth after their parents’ divorce. Eleven years later, they are coincidentally sent to the same summer camp where they form an intense rivalry — until they realize there are identical twins. They end up scheming to reunite their parents by switching places. An amazing soundtrack and beautiful scenes take viewers aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2 to the streets of London to a beautiful vineyard in Napa Valley. It’s a feel-good summer movie that ends with parents Nick (Dennis Quaid) and Elizabeth (Natasha Richardson) reuniting.

Moonrise Kingdom (PG-13) — Sarah Soliman, Marketing & Communications Manager

Moonrise Kingdom is one of the great films about childhood. 12-year-olds Sam — an orphan who is rejected by every foster family he’s placed with — and Suzy — whose parents read books like Coping with the Very Troubled Child — find solace in each other after a chance meeting. They hatch a plan to be together: Suzy leaves home, and Sam escapes Camp Ivanhoe, the scout camp where he has been spending a lonely, friendless summer. While the two children try to build themselves their own version of paradise, isolated from the rest of the world, they are pursued by Suzy’s parents, Sam’s camp counselor and troop, local law enforcement, and a child protection services agent. This lovers-on-the-run adventure takes seriously the darker emotions of childhood, and, combined with Wes Anderson’s idiosyncratic aesthetic, the results are both melancholy and magical.

And if you’re looking for something for your kids to do this August, The Picture House has three filmmaking camps this summer! Learn more about how your young film lover can become a filmmaker.