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The Best Summer Movie Year Ever

Dave, Joanna, and Neil each make their pitch for the best summer movie year ever

Warner Bros. Pictures

Dave, Joanna, and Neil argue for their respective picks for the best summer movie year ever on the latest episode of Trial by Content. This week’s debate is inspired by—wait for it—summer!

Neil handpicked the list of pretrial dismissals this week, highlighting three years with particularly memorable summer blockbusters.

1984 (Ghostbusters, Gremlins, The NeverEnding Story, Sixteen Candles)

1979 (Alien, Apocalypse Now, The Muppet Movie, Monty Python’s Life of Brian)

2011 (Bridesmaids, Captain America: The First Avenger, Rise of the Planet of the Apes)

Also, the Category Crown goes to the 1980s, which was the most submitted decade of the week. On the other hand, the summer of 2020 receives the dishonor of occupying this week’s Category Clown.

After winning back-to-back polls—the Best Needle Drop in TV History and the Best Superhero Introduction—the listeners look to keep their hot streak alive and become the first Trial By Content competitor to win three debates in a row.

Dave was once again the runner-up, which means he starts the opening statements.

Dave: 1982

He goes with the summer of 1982 as his choice for the best summer movie year ever.

“In May, Conan the Barbarian and Rocky III were released to kick off the summer months, but June brought Poltergeist and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn on the same day and the week after, ET: The Extra-Terrestrial dominated the box office over Grease 2, which isn’t great but is ’82,” he admits. “At the end of June, Blade Runner and The Thing were released, once again on the same day.”

He then boldly calls attention to some box office flops turned niche classics.

“July’s films included some classics that were box office duds but have come back around like The Secret of NIMH and Tron as well as An Officer and a Gentleman.”

Dave closes out with a fun rhyme that appeals to movie fans across all genres.

“No matter your flavor of cinema—action, adventure, sci-fi, animated, horror, drama, and music—the summer of 1982 has a classic for you.”

Joanna: 1997

Joanna fast-forwards 15 years with her choice and doesn’t waste any time in recapping 1997’s many summer blockbusters.

Grosse Pointe Blank, fantastic comedy. Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, fantastic comedy. Volcano—not to be confused with Dante’s Peak—came out that year. And then, Austin Powers crushed it and came in to change the culture forever. For the worse? Maybe, in 1997.”

She then goes rapid-fire and reveals a combination of both high-profile releases and underrated gems from that summer.

The Fifth Element, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Speed 2: Cruise Control, Batman and Robin, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Face/Off, Hercules (a very underrated Disney movie), Men in Black (a Will Smith–July 4th banger), Contact, George of the Jungle, Air Force One, The Full Monty, and then last but certainly not least Con Air.”

Neil: 1989

Neil winds the clock back to 1989 and rounds out the hosts’ opening statements by calling in the Caped Crusader.

“1989 was the year in which the summer movie season finally evolved,” he explains. “Sequelmania had taken hold of Hollywood and American capitalism was about to discover one of its most exploitable cinematic franchises ever. We’re talking about Batman.”

He explains that although he was just a kid during that summer, it would still be his ideal slate of blockbuster flicks.

“If I could jump in a time machine and go back to 1989, purely for the purposes of seeing summer movies, here is my cineplex agenda in release order. We’ve got: Major League, Say Anything, Field of Dreams, Pet Sematary, Roadhouse, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Dead Poets Society—we only just made it to June,” he teases.

Neil continues with his matter-of-fact approach and continues to name everything from classic horror to children’s animation.

Ghostbusters 2, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Karate Kid Part III, Do the Right Thing, Lethal Weapon 2, Weekend at Bernie’s, When Harry Met Sally, License to Kill, UHF, Turner & Hooch, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Babar: The Movie, Parenthood, Sex, Lies and Videotape, The Abyss, and the John Candy legendary performance that is Uncle Buck. There you have it, the summer of ’89.”

Be sure to check out the podcast below for more from Dave, Joanna, and Neil, including their full opening statements, cross examinations, listener submissions, and their closing arguments!

Don’t forget to vote for what you think is the best summer movie year after you’ve listened to the episode! You can vote below, on The Ringer’s Twitter feed, and in the Spotify app, where you’ll find Trial by Content. The winner will be announced next week!

This excerpt was lightly edited for clarity.


What is the best summer movie year ever?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Da7e: 1982
    (311 votes)
  • 40%
    Neil: 1989
    (869 votes)
  • 20%
    Joanna: 1997
    (448 votes)
  • 24%
    Listener (Jack): 2008
    (519 votes)
2147 votes total Vote Now

Hosts: Dave Gonzales, Joanna Robinson, and Neil Miller
Associate Producer: Carlos Chiriboga
Additional Production Supervision: Arjuna Ramgopal
Theme song and other music credits: Devon Renaldo
Blog post: Kai Grady

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