Entertaining experts and Real Simple editors share their picks for summertime backyard movie nights.

Father and daughter watching an outdoor movie
Credit: svetikd/Getty Images


“My kids are obsessed, and I’m a big fan, too—any movie with a strong female character and almost zero violence is a win in my book.” – Emily Henderson, interior designer and stylist

The Goonies

“It is my all time fav because it’s all about finding adventure in your own backyard and family among friends.” – Dawn Perry, Food Director


“It just doesn't feel like summer until I watch Jaws. Not sure what it says about me that I like to scare the living daylights out of myself during peak swimming season, but there you have it. After all these years, the film still holds up. I’ve seen it dozens of times and still jump out of my seat and cover my eyes during the scary parts. If you have a projector, take it outside on a summer night with a good speaker to do proper justice to that legendary John Williams score.”—Brenda Dargan, Managing Editor, RealSimple.com

Back To The Future or Princess Bride

“Both appeal to viewers of all ages, feeding the nostalgia of my generation but lighting up younger viewers, too.” – Elizabeth Demos, stylist and designer

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Star Wars or Indiana Jones

“Try any of the first three Star Wars or Indiana Jones movies. The have a fun nostalgic kick for those who are old enough, but are still accessible and entertaining for kids. For grown-ups only I’d host a horror movie night. Most people think of the genre for Halloween parties, but so many campy-fun options are set in the summer (Jaws, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Friday the 13th, Sleep Away Camp).” – Rebecca Daly, Senior Fashion Editor


“Totally kid-friendly, but with those zingers that just moms and dads notice, so it keeps everyone entertained!” – Kate Turner, event planner, Kate and Co.


“For some reason my (adult) brother and dad started watching Minions once when we were all together as a family, and we all loved it — even those of us who hadn’t planned on watching couldn’t resist settling in and catching at least part of it. The movie is light, silly, and fun, and easy to pop into and out of if you’re at a get-together and want to spend some of the time actually catching up. A delight that is completely appropriate for all ages.” —Anna Maltby, Deputy Editor


“Everyone loves to sing along!” – Joy Cho, founder and creative director, ohjoy.com

The Sandlot

“This movie will forever be funny to me. Between the baseball, the scary backyard dog, and the public pool, it always makes me think of summer.”—Libby Sile, Senior Editor, Features

Dirty Dancing

“You can’t go wrong with a classic.” – Nicole Gibbons, interior designer


“Nothing captures the carefree essence of summer quite like Grease. Whether you’re watching with family or friends, it’s always a crowd pleaser and encourages everyone to get their dancing shoes on in a flash!” – Tamara Kraus, Assistant Home Editor

Rear Window

“It’s suspenseful but not too scary, engaging but not overly stimulating. It’s one of those movies you can watch again and again. Since it’s summer in the movie, it feels very of the season (and relatable). Perfect for friends or family, it’s a really fun watch.” – Hannah Norling, Associate Producer, RealSimple.com