In the before times, around this time of year, hordes of students and other party revelers would be headed to a gorgeous beach or island somewhere to party hardy. Of course, many decided to embrace before times prematurely in Miami recently, but the city was forced to impose a curfew and many are now paying the price.
We definitely advise against traveling to Miami — or anywhere else — to wreak havoc right now, but there are other ways to experience the utter hot mess that is spring break. Live vicariously through the outrageous beach blowouts, bikinis, and drinking contests from the following films….available to be streamed from the comfort of your own couch.
You can’t make a list about spring break movies and not include Spring Breakers, one of the most over-the-top insane films ever made. Starring Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, and James Franco, it follows a group of college students as they head to Florida for the annual beach bacchanal. In the first half of the film, the girls get up to the usual spring break mischief: partying, vomiting, and parading around in not-much-at-all. When they meet Alien (Franco), a wild local drug dealer, their lives suddenly turn to crime and violence, as the film takes a hard left turn. The second half of the film is more entertaining than the first, and while it’s now considered a cult classic, Spring Breakers may make you reconsider if you ever want to travel to a beach town again.
Where to Stream it: Showtime
One of the biggest surprises in recent film history was the success of the film remake of 21 Jump Street. Based on a crime show from the 1980s mostly remembered for launching Johnny Depp, no one expected the remake of the show to be that great. But then the guys who made The Lego Movie—Phil Lord and Christopher Miller—are used to being underestimated. 21 Jump Street was met with praise by critics and audiences alike, so a sequel was inevitable. 22 Jump Street is just as funny. Stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, reprising their roles from the first film, once again go undercover—this time as college students—to bust another drug ring. Since they are supposedly in college, the climax takes place over spring break. This one will make you nostalgic for your own college days, and watching Jonah Hill face the wrath of Ice Cube (he’s dating his daughter) brings it home.
Where to Stream it: FX Network
So maybe you missed out on the wild rite of passage yourself and fantasize about getting a do-over. Amy Poehler, Parker Posey and Rachel Dratch play three best friends who were geeks during their college years. Now they’re now in their mid-30s and longing for a youth they never got. When one of their bosses sends her to spring break on San Padre Island to keep an eye on her daughter (played by Amber Tamblyn), the other two tag along — determined to live out the cool kid misadventures they missed in college. A direct-to-video release, this one’s a light and silly escape watch for when you’re shivering back home and pining for a more carefree time.
Probably the most ridiculous entry on this list, From Justin to Kelly is not a good film. So why recommend it? Because it’s one of those films that’s so bad, it’s good. Give your brain some much needed rest, put this on, and don’t think too hard about anything for 80 minutes. Originally released in 2003, From Justin to Kelly was nothing more than a marketing vehicle for the two finalists of the first season of American Idol, Justin Guarini and Kelly Clarkson. As you might expect, it’s a musical romantic comedy, but for some reason set entirely during spring break. He’s a college student from Pennsylvania (named Justin, of course), she’s a waitress from Texas (named Kelly, because why try?). Will they find lasting love in the middle of the party on the Florida coast? The film is so ridiculous it’s developed cult status. Perfect for the type of drinking game you would normally play during spring break, invite a group of (vaccinated) friends over to share in the absurdity.
While not actually set during spring break, Girls Trip serves up enough wild shenanigans on one legendary trip to qualify it as a spring break movie. Starring Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, Regina Hall, and Jada Pinkett Smith, the film follows four best friends as they head to New Orleans to attend the Essence Festival. Comedy ensues as these talents trip themselves up in all kinds of trouble, but there are also heartfelt moments that speak to the curative powers of female friendship. Haddish was the breakout star of this film, and actually won two acting awards for her performance. Stick around for the scene that involves Haddish and a grapefruit. And if you like the movie, then you’re in luck—there’s a sequel in development.
In 2017, an ambitious entrepreneur by the name of Billy McFarland famously attempted to host one of the most epic music festivals ever conceived. Originally set to take place on a private island in the Bahamas, the Fyre Festival was eagerly hyped by influencers, but ultimately fell apart due to its founders’ hubris and ineptitude. Thanks to those same influencers—who documented the whole, sad experience on social media while they were stranded and frustrated—it became a great disaster story.
The story behind the fiasco was so fascinating it became the subject of not one but two documentaries, released on competing platforms around the same time. Both Netflix’s Fyre and Hulu’s Fyre Fraud warn of the dangers of wealth and influencer culture, but what’s most heartbreaking is how the festival that never was left the Bahamians who were involved out to dry. Fyre‘s interviews are generally more colorful—one participant discusses some very questionable acts in the name of getting water tanks—but both documentaries are equally compelling, and if you watch one, you’ll probably want to see the other one too.
Again, not technically a spring break movie, but it’s set in a sunny vacation spot and there are a lot of pools, parties and imbibing, so it counts. Palm Springs stars Cristin Milioti and Andy Samberg in a perpetual time loop. They meet at a destination wedding, where they get sucked into a vortex and become stuck reliving the same day — like Groundhog Day, except the lead characters get to share the experience with each other. As the two try to figure out how to get out of the time loop, they grow closer, face some uncomfortable truths, and, well, there’s a clever twist on the traditional rom-com. It’s a sweet and funny film that may actually make you curious about quantum physics — and ready to leave your own stuck pandemic life for a vacation (that you can escape).
Where to Stream it: Hulu
While not actually a spring break movie, National Lampoon’s Animal House is the ultimate college party movie, and one “for the canon.” At the time of its release in the late 1970s, John Belushi was the only established actor in the cast, thanks to Saturday Night Live, but many of his fellow cast members—including Donald Sutherland, Karen Allen, Kevin Bacon, Thomas Hulce, Peter Riegert, and Tim Matheson—would go on to have celebrated careers in Hollywood. Inspired by various stories in Harvard University’s National Lampoon magazine, the film follows the exploits of a ragtag group of wild fraternity brothers who drive the college Dean mad. Animal House helped to define the gross out genre, shows up on many of the “funniest movies of all time” lists, and delivers several iconic pop-culture moments — from the popularization of toga parties to the chaotic cafeteria “food fight!” to Belushi smashing a partygoer’s guitar.
Where to Stream it: Cinemax