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Settle in on a sultry evening (and blast the fan or A/C, if available) with picks from The Globe and Mail’s summer-movie experts

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What is the all-time best movie to watch during a hot summer night? You know, the kind of deep-season evening where the humidity sticks to your skin, and relief can only be found by plopping yourself in front of the biggest screen you can find, with the fan (or A/C) blasting as high as your energy bills allow? To help you solve your steamy streaming dilemma, The Globe and Mail’s summer-movie experts offer their best bets, and how to watch them tonight.

Animal House

John Belushi in Animal House.Universal Pictures via CP

At first, I thought I’d weather the heat wave by watching something equally intense and steamy and argumentative and Italian, such as Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900. But it’s now so humid I’m going instead with John Landis’s Animal House, the funniest movie ever made. The scene in which Boon and Otter calmly ping golf balls off Niedermeyer’s helmet and horse makes me laugh uncontrollably and instantly cools my sense of injustice: revenge, you know, best served cold. (Streaming on Crave with Starz)

– Ian Brown

Body Heat

Kathleen Turner and William Hurt star in Body Heat.Warner Bros.

There are two ways to pick summer movies. Try to distract yourself from the heat or embrace it and get sweaty. If the latter appeals, there’s no greater hot-weather watch than Body Heat. Set in a scorching heatwave, this sexy, steamy 1980s noir will have you reaching for the ice cubes, praying for a breeze to rustle the windchimes. (Streaming on Crave with Starz and Criterion Channel)

– Jana Pruden

Dazed and Confused

Rory Cochrane, Jason London and Sasha Jenson in Dazed and Confused.Gramercy Pictures

Early on in Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age comedy we hear Alice Cooper’s School’s Out, an anthemic teenaged declaration of independence for the summer months. The film is set in Texas of 1976, an uncivilized time when air conditioning was less than standard and shotgunning beers was an encouraged form of rehydration. Matthew McConaughey wears a smirk and white T-shirt Brando-like, but his character (and haircut) is creepy. For my money, a young Jason London is much hotter. The last song on the soundtrack is Foghat’s Slow Ride – there is no end to the summer in sight. (Available for rent or purchase on YouTube, Apple TV/iTunes, Google Play)

– Brad Wheeler

Die Hard with a Vengeance

Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis in Die Hard With a Vengeance.Twentieth Century Fox via CP

The second-best Die Hard (that’s right) takes place smack in the middle of a good ol’ fashioned New York heat wave, delivering the best sweltering-in-the-city action in cinematic history. As odd-couple Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson race around Manhattan trying to defuse one catastrophe after another, you can practically feel the pair’s sweat dripping off the screen – a result of both the on-screen tension and the skyrocketing temperature. (Streaming on Disney+ with Star and Crave with Starz)

– Barry Hertz

Dirty Dancing

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing.Lionsgate Home Entertainment

A dripping wet Patrick Swayze. A gentle caress along the arm. Jennifer Grey’s sweaty, glistening abs. It’s impossible to declare a “sexiest moment” of Dirty Dancing. The flick is non-stop steaminess, as the guests and help at Kellerman’s resort get to know each other in this classic coming-of-age tale. Enjoy with watermelon. (Streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Crave with Starz)

– Domini Clark

Do the Right Thing

Rosie Perez and Spike Lee in Do The Right Thing.Universal Pictures

Summer heat, the kind that smacks you in the chest and sticks to you and makes you gritty, is a character in Spike Lee’s masterpiece. It steams on Stuyvesant Avenue, where the production painted buildings glowing orange and red. It shimmers over the pizza ovens at Sal’s. It pulses and rises in the crowd’s anger. Maybe on a cooler night, violence wouldn’t erupt. In this heat, it’s inevitable. (Streaming on Crave with Starz)

– Johanna Schneller

The Shallows

Blake Lively in The Shallows.Columbia Pictures

Nothing says “two-dose summer” like Blake Lively, in a bikini, on a secluded Mexican beach with sun, sand and surf – and a shark. While The Shallows was gently mocked for asking the Gossip Girl star to carry a solo shark-attack flick, in 2021 we could all play the role: alone while death circles, the safety of shore just out of reach and only a seagull named Steven Seagull for company. Given the realities of pandemic life, a killer shark feels like a small price to pay for a trip to paradise. (Streaming on Netflix)

– Cliff Lee

The Straight Story

Richard Farnsworth in The Straight Story.Buena Vista Pictures

David Lynch’s most wholesome film follows the real-life journey of Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth), who putters across Iowa and Wisconsin on a John Deere lawnmower to see his estranged brother Lyle (Harry Dean Stanton) after he’s suffered a stroke. With its summer stargazing, swaying cornfields and humming grain elevators, sunny main streets and kind strangers on the road, this film is an Edward Hopper painting come to life. (Available to rent on Vudu)

– Zosia Bielski

True Romance

Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette in True Romance.Warner Bros.

It’s the soundtrack, above all else. Hans Zimmer’s Calypso-tinged score, all xylophones and marimbas, is the aural personification of summer. Next: the SoCal setting, which director Tony Scott captures in all its sun-kissed glory. The cast, one of the greatest ensembles ever committed to film, surely doesn’t hurt. Finally, the story – darkly funny, thrilling and, yes, romantic – reminds me of those endless July days when you never want the summer to end. (Streaming on

– Mark Medley

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