Where to Watch: Hulu (or at the drive-in)
In a year when movie theaters are closed during the season that's typically home to some of our collective fondest moviegoing memories, and new films are scarce, returning to staples that embody the purest peak of "summer blockbuster" has been a comfort. Couple that with the feel-good retro aesthetics of a drive-in theater, and you'll come as close to restoring the summer movie feeling as possible.
As far as movies that exude big summer, blockbuster and summer blockbuster energy, all these other flicks are still Jaws' sons. The 1975 thriller screened earlier this week at Brooklyn's Skyline Drive-In, a Greenpoint waterfront theater set-up birthed post-COVID-19 that offers, as the name promises, stunning views of Manhattan. (I'd recommend pulling up early and in an SUV for optimum screen view, Cadillac was nice enough to lend me their spacious XT6 for my excursion.) Spielberg's run from the '70s through to the first Jurassic Park are an upper echelon popcorn flick in a class of their own, if his sophomore directorial effort isn't the best among his later classics, it may be the most suited to a drive-in setting now. (The last time I saw Jurassic Park in a theater it was at Lincoln Square IMAX, an experience that cannot be duplicated in the whip.)
Jaws turned 45 this year, and it's never been more relevant. The back-half is a man versus nature battle in the Dad Movie pantheon—Quint's chilling below-deck tale and his eventual death will never lose potency. But that first hour is all about themes of capitalism versus morality and empathy—specifically how the former will always prevail until tragedy strikes in a blatantly unavoidable way. Sound familiar? Mayor Larry's hair even sticks up like Trump's does when he's ruffled. A dead boy isn't reason enough to prioritize caution over beach town Amity's economy-dependent 4th of July festivities; warm weather widely threw all COVID anxieties to the wind—our country is currently taking the longest to beat back the virus while our death and case tolls hit astronomical heights.
Still, Jaws stands as some of the best legacy escapism there is. It's a comforting throwback to air-conditioned dark theaters, buttery tubs of popcorn, awe-inspiring feats of filmmaking, and a time when, even belatedly, common sense prevailed. —Frazier Tharpe