‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure’? ‘Dirty Dancing’? The Showdown winds down and doubles up


To quote the title of a memorable summer movie from 2013: “This Is the End.” Well, almost.

Welcome to Weeks 15 and 16 of the L.A. Times Ultimate Summer Movie Showdown, our 16-week contest to program the greatest summer movie season ever. Or at least since 1975, the year that “Jaws” forever changed the landscape of moviemaking, gross tallying and beach bumming forever.

To recap the rules: Each week, I present you with a list of 16 movies from 1975 to 2019, all of which were released during a particular summer time frame. You may vote for your favorites on my Twitter account, @JustinCChang.

Over the past several months, those of you who have followed along have voted for a commendable slate of winners: “The Avengers” (Week 1, May 1-7), “Bridesmaids” (Week 2, May 8-14), “Mad Max: Fury Road” (Week 3, May 15-21), “Alien” (Week 4, May 22-28), “Finding Nemo” (Week 5, May 29-June 4), “Jurassic Park” (Week 6, June 5-11), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (Week 7, June 12-18), “Jaws” (Week 8, June 19-25), “Do the Right Thing” (Week 9, June 26-July 2), “Back to the Future” (Week 10, July 3-9), “Die Hard” (Week 11, July 10-16), “Clueless” (Week 12, July 17-23), “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” (Week 13, July 24-30) and “The Fugitive” (Week 14, July 31-Aug. 6).


This Thursday, I will be hosting a live chat with Andrew Davis, the director of “The Fugitive” that will be streamed on the Los Angeles Times Classic Hollywood Facebook Page and YouTube as well as Twitter.

But on to Weeks 15 and 16. Every summer blockbuster needs a climactic blowout, and so for ours, we will be doubling up: The final two sets of polls, for Weeks 15 and 16, will be run concurrently. In other words, there will be 32 films instead of the usual 16. At the end, we’ll have a Week 15 winner and a Week 16 winner, which will join the previous 14 champs. And next week — the official last week of the Showdown — we’ll pit all 16 champs against one another in a final showdown to determine the most Ultimate of all the Ultimate Summer Movies.

WEEK 15 (AUG. 7-13, 1975-2019)

Here are our eight opening match-ups:

“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982) vs. “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (2010)
That “Clueless” win a few weeks ago suggests some serious Amy Heckerling love — but enough to propel “Fast Times” over Edgar Wright’s wildly stylized, cult-approved graphic-novel adaptation?

“Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” (1985) vs. “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (1994)
A stolen bicycle and a giant tour bus are the vehicles powering these memorable road trips.

“Stand by Me” (1986) vs. “Step Up” (2006)
Youthful dramas with commanding titles.

“The Abyss” (1989) vs. “Flatliners” (1990)
Early thrillers from James Cameron and Joel Schumacher, each one pitched at the intersection of this world and the next.


“Unforgiven” (1992) vs. “Hell or High Water” (2016)
Against any western other than Clint Eastwood’s masterwork, David Mackenzie’s fine crime drama might have had a better shot.

“Bowfinger” (1999) vs. “Tropic Thunder” (2008)
Let’s-make-a-movie comedies: Robert Downey Jr. received an Oscar nomination for one of them and makes a cameo in the other.

“Julie & Julia” (2009) vs. “Sausage Party” (2016)
The culinary comedy, two ways. “Julie & Julia” gets points for Meryl Streep’s loving impersonation of Julia Child, but my vote goes to the raucous (and more consistent) “Sausage Party.”

“The Help” (2011) vs. “BlacKkKlansman” (2018)
Dramas about the fight against white supremacy in Middle America. If Spike Lee loses this one, we may have to cancel the whole Showdown on principle.


WEEK 16 (AUG. 14-21, 1975-2019)

Here are our eight opening match-ups:

“Apocalypse Now” (1979) vs. “Casualties of War” (1989)
No contest, I know. But while Frances Ford Coppola’s hallucinatory masterwork has largely gotten its due, Brian De Palma’s devastating Vietnam epic always feels overdue for reconsideration.

“Monty Python’s Life of Brian” (1979) vs. “The Full Monty” (1997)
Two very different “Monty” comedies, both of which will leave you looking on the bright side of life.

“An American Werewolf in London” (1981) vs. “Blade” (1998)
Werewolves and vampires and gore effects, oh my! Notably, “Blade” was arguably eclipsed by its 2002 sequel (not a summer release, alas), while “London” gave rise to a 1997 follow-up that scarcely bears mentioning.

“The Fly” (1986) vs. “District 9” (2009)
Squirmingly visceral man-bug body-horror movies from directors in peak form.

“Dirty Dancing” (1987) vs. “Bring It On” (2000)
Movies with intensely athletic moves and remarkably long shelf lives; both were ultimately adapted for the stage.

“The Usual Suspects” (1995) vs. “Inglourious Basterds” (2009)
Christopher McQuarrie’s time-shuffling “Suspects” script was often mistaken for the work of Quentin Tarantino; let’s see how it fares opposite an actual Tarantino movie, and one of his most popular.


“The 40-Year-Old Virgin” (2007) vs. “Crazy Rich Asians” (2018)
Charming, smartly cast romantic comedies about a protagonist who feels extremely out of their depth.

“Superbad” (2007) vs. “Straight Outta Compton” (2015)
Movies, both filmed in Los Angeles, about excitable young men eager to make their mark.

How to vote: If you have a Twitter account (and if you don’t, you can sign up for one for free), you may vote in the polls that I will post this week. Here’s the schedule:

Monday, Aug. 10
5 p.m.: Polls open for knockout round; voting ends at 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Tuesday, Aug. 11
8 a.m.: Polls open for quarterfinals; voting ends at 4 p.m.
5 p.m.: Polls open for semifinals; voting ends at 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Wednesday, Aug. 12
8 a.m.: Polls open for final vote.
4 p.m.: Final polls close; winner announced.