I’m going to shock you with my findings here, but I believe spring is the most underrepresented season in movies. “Summer” is practically its own genre, fall gets plenty of Halloween-themed flicks, and winter films are downright ubiquitous. Problem is, spring is the time of year when the worst movies come out, so it’s difficult to pinpoint the season’s best finds. Lo and behold, we’ve done it: Here are our nine favorite movies that remind us spring’s sassy freshness. There’s even baseball! I can’t believe it either.
9. Ghost World
If you’re like me, spring means one thing. Say it with me! A STRANGE, ISOLATING WEARINESS!
Yeah, it means other things too, but spring routinely brings me back to high school when graduation was near, motivation was far, and you couldn’t escape that pervading languor. In Ghost World, Thora Birch played a disillusioned teenager named Enid Coleslaw whose cynicism gives way to a realistic, un-cloying vulnerability. She finds an unlikely companion in a middle-aged weirdo (Steve Buscemi, mais bien sur!), and eventually confronts her own aimlessness. Just as good (if not better, actually): the Aimee Mann song “Ghost World,” which is based on the same graphic novel as this film.
Best scene: I’m all about Enid’s droll commentary at her high school graduation during the first few moments of the film.
8. Troop Beverly Hills
Spring means girl scout cookies, and no movie makes me want to scarf a box of Tagalongs like Troop Beverly Hills, arguably the finest moment in Shelley Long’s cinematic oeuvre. Long’s character Phyllis Neflin has those sly, but flighty smarts that adequately prepare gay children for a lifetime of Goldie Hawn appreciation. The Blu-ray should come with a cute set of Private Benjammies! With little feet.
Best scene: Troop Beverly Hills’ climactic victory and validation as true “Wilderness Girls.”
7. The Producers
The scheming firm of Bialystok and Bloom make our list for one reason — well, two: 1) “Springtime for Hitler” is a fabulously insane musical number as well as a defining moment of irreverence in cinematic history. For the late ’60s, it’s pretty deranged. And 2) Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder have no contemporaries or descendants. They are literally unique comics and brilliant, compelling freaks.
Best scene: Leo Bloom’s screamy commitment to his blue blanket
6. Cabin Fever
We needed a horror movie on this list, and the eye-poppingly gross and hilarious Cabin Fever fits the bill. A group of unsuspecting college friends rent a cabin in the woods and start immediately suffering at the mercy of a bizarre, contagious scourge. These kids embody the stereotype of hapless spring breakers, but they all perish in the nastiest ways possible. I’m still waiting for Cabin Fever to be more of a camp classic, but I’m telling you the nuttiness is worth it.
Best Scene: When a passerby (director/co-writer Eli Roth, in a cameo!) visits with his dog named “The Professor,” he explains that the pooch got his name because he’s “a professor — of being a dog!” Then, in an asinine, brash non-sequitur, he tells the kids, “Oooh, faced!” Unbelievable. (Rider Strong’s shirtlessness is also nice.)
Like so many movies about high school, Grease takes place over the course of an entire school year. Thankfully, we can agree that the best part of Rydell High’s syllabus is the year-end carnival in spring, when Sandy dons her hot pants, Rizzo finds out she’s not pregnant and expresses glee the way only a 34-year-old Stockard Channing can, and Danny Zuko drives off into the sky like any respectable heterosexual.
Best scene: The climactic carnival, or the bizarrely pessimistic “Beauty School Dropout.”
4. Mean Girls
Lindsay Lohan dazzled us in The Parent Trap, but she became a relatable, seemingly rational screen star in the still unbelievably funny Mean Girls. Based on Rosalind Wiseman’s non-fiction work Queen Bees and Wannabes, Mean Girls dives into the machinations and pure evil of high school girl world and gives every woman on-screen the right to a few fabulous one-liners. Like Grease, it concludes in spring — but with an awe-inspiring bus accident and prom scene to boot! I’d say the best performance is Amy Poehler’s as mean-queen Regina George (Rachel McAdams) velour-skinned “cool mom.”
Best scene: Get Mean Girls on DVD and watch it with Tina Fey’s commentary. Her dissection of the prom scene — and the prom crown that Lohan breaks into a million pieces — is hysterical.
3. Mary Poppins
Regardless of the fact that Mary Poppins has a spring setting, does Julie Andrews not evoke the season in her ineffable chipperness? She may be the single springiest performer of all time. Her Oscar-winning performance alongside the similarly ebullient Dick Van Dyke is the stuff of movie magic and, y’know, dreams in general. You can’t draw an umbrella in this puddle-tastic season without thinking of this soaring sister.
Best scene: Verbosity is my lifeblood, so “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” it is.
2. Easter Parade
I dropped out of Catholicism a long time ago, but nothing makes me miss secular holidays like Judy and Fred’s springtime romp couched in the songs and sincerity of Irving Berlin. Let’s give The Wizard of Oz’s celebrated springiness a rest and talk about this film’s gorgeous music: “Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” anyone? “A Couple of Swells” with Garland and Astaire? Or my personal favorite…
Best scene: Ann Miller’s staggering “Shaking the Blues Away.” Doesn’t have much to do with Jesus’ rebirth, but I’m OK with that.
1. A League of Their Own
Baseball: Not a terribly watchable sport, but so damn charming. If ever a baseball movie invited the AfterElton demographic into its dugout, it’s definitely A League of Their Own, the kickass comedy about a female wartime baseball team that features unforgettable quotes (Tom Hanks’ “There’s no crying in baseball” still slays), a handful of outstanding performances (including Madonna in unquestionably the finest performance of her career as “All the Way” Mae Mordabito), and — watch this! — great baseball scenes too (Geena Davis performing the splits while catching an infield pop-up? Jim Thorpe, I dare you.) You may use the rest of your time on this article to think about Lori Petty’s feisty zeal. This used to be her playground, see.
Best scene: Any scene featuring the spitfire dialogue of one Rosie O’Donnell, or when Mae threatens to kill Evelyn’s son on the bus.