Ah, summer: the time of year when love is in the air. And by love, we mean, sweaty, intense, burning lust. The heat of summer is the perfect time for a fling. Everyone wears less clothes. You can be outside all the time. A lighter workload or a break from school means more time for stupid, sexy behavior. And when the weather turns cold and your life gets serious again, you have the perfect excuse to end it, because really, who thought this was going to last past Labor Day?
Summer flings burn hot and then flame out, which not only makes for some of the best memories, but also makes for the best on-screen romances. Whether a shy girl meets a hunky dance instructor or a bad boy meets a goody two-shoes foreign exchange student, if two people are thrown together during the summer, odds are sparks are going to fly. These are the 10 best summer flings in movies, and we should all be lucky enough to experience heat this hot.
Emily “Em” Lewin (Kristen Stewart) and James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) in Adventureland (2009)
Anyone who has ever endured a terrible summer job has spent idle time daydreaming that one of their co-workers or customers will turn into their summer flame. In Adventureland, Emily and James live every summer jobber’s dream … or at least that’s how it would have gone if they could have gotten out of their own way. Em and James’s relationship feels more realistic than many of the white hot burning summer passions we see on the silver screen. Their entanglements, jealousies, and conflicted emotions keep them apart except for a few lucky moments here and there. Though they finally get together at the end of the film, you’re left asking the same question we often do in real life, “What might have been?”
Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs) and Michelle Flaherty (Alyson Hannigan) in American Pie 2 (2001)
Sometimes you find your summer flings in the most unexpected places. At the beginning of American Pie 2, Jim thinks he’s enlisting his prom night stand as a sexual sensei in preparation for the return of gorgeous foreign exchange student and unwitting webcam star Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth). After a few lessons and a trumpet up the ass, Jim realizes that he has always been a band geek at heart. And every band geek needs his geek-ess. He discovers that the girl of his dreams has been right under his nose the whole time, and she really knows her way around a flute.
Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) and Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) in Dirty Dancing (1987)
Relationships with teachers are gross, but relationships with summer camp dance instructors? So hot, especially when he’s from the wrong side of the tracks. Summer flings allow rich girls to have their cake and eat it too. A horny young debutante can bone a hot poor guy, but once summer’s over, they can run away before they actually have to deal with the realities of income inequality. And sometimes they get free dance lessons to boot!
Allison “Allie” Hamilton (Rachel McAdams) and Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) in The Notebook (2004)
Here’s another wrong side of the tracks story. Sexy poor farm boys and blue-collar workmen are so hot! They’re always sweating through their dirty white t-shirts after a hard day’s work! In The Notebook, as usual, parents just don’t understand. For the first and only time in history, Ryan Gosling is referred to as “trash, trash, trash.” These words come courtesy of Allie’s rich, but bitter mother. Unlike most summer flings, this one continues off and on for the rest of the characters’ lives.
Let this be a lesson to any men trying to lock down their beachfront babes for the long term. Build her a house to let her know you’re serious.
Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) in Before Sunrise (1995)
It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone has a dream of a summer fling abroad. In Before Sunset, Jesse lives the dream. Sadly, he only gets to live that dream for one day. Less than twenty-four hours after they meet, Jesse and Celine part ways. They agree to meet up again six months later, but, of course, they don’t. The next time they see each other is almost a decade later. This time it sticks, and nine years after that, we meet up with them again as a couple and parents of twins. Though these two are the definition of on-again off-again, this may be the longest summer fling in film history.
Ennis DelMar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) in Brokeback Mountain (2005)
They say that an element of danger can heat up a romance. Whoever said that wasn’t thinking of the kind of danger the Ennis and Jack have to contend with in Brokeback Mountain. Not only do they have to worry about the disapproval of society and the shame of their family, but they also have to worry about being beaten to death. Not exactly the kind of danger that turns up the temperature in the bedroom, or cabin, or tent, or open prairie, as that case may be.
Though their love ran so deep that Ennis hung on to Jack’s bloody shirt (creepy, yes, but also romantic), rural Wyoming in 1963 was a long way from last month’s Supreme Court ruling.
Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) and Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) in The Graduate (1967)
This is one of the greatest summer flings in movie history, even if it doesn’t turn out so great for the characters involved. Bored and horny post-grad Benjamin Braddock falls into an affair with the original cougar herself, and it almost costs him a chance at real happiness. Ben’s parents and Mr. Robinson would have Ben court Mrs. Robinson’s daughter Elaine, but Mrs. R and her expansive liquor cabinet have other plans.
Let this movie be a warning to anyone out there hoping to bag a MILF or a DILF this summer. Relationships with … more seasoned partners can become very complicated very quickly.
Tony (Richard Beymer) and Maria (Natalie Wood) in West Side Story (1961)
Inspired by the O.G. summer fling, Romeo and Juliet, the love between Maria and Tony burns brightly in the summer heat, and then is extinguished just as suddenly as it was ignited. West Side Story reminds us that love can be destructive, and sometimes, in conquering all, it can conquer the lovers in the process.
Everyone in Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
Every teenage camper wants one thing: to hook up before summer ends. In Wet Hot American Summer, everyone is trying to end their summer with a bang (well except Bradley Cooper and Amy Poehler, who just want to put on a dope talent show). Whether you’re a middle-aged astrophysics professor, a desperate lovelorn teenager, or a closeted young man discovering his sexuality, everybody wants to make sure they don’t leave camp without another notch in their bed post.
Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newtown-John) and Danny Zuko (John Travolta) in Grease (1978)
“Summer lovin’, had me a blast / Summer lovin’, happened so fast.”
These iconic words have been the official soundtrack to summer love since they were first uttered back in 1978. Sandy and Danny’s fling is one of the most beloved summer romances ever to hit the screen. Girls have been singing along with Sandra Dee at sleepovers for decades, and our hopeless devotion to Grease shows no signs of slowing.
One of the key reasons that Danny and Sandy’s summer love is immortal (other than those vintage Travolta dance moves) is that we only see it for a brief moment. As we watch the two love birds try to negotiate their vastly different high school identities, their summer fling remains idealized, distant, and unseen, allowing the audience to project their fantasies on Danny and Sandy’s summer love.