Thursday, March 7, 2013

Summer School

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Or we can fail in English and hit summer school!

Summer School – 3 out of 5

I remember watching this movie when I was younger but don’t remember many of the details of the film beyond a few scenes here and there and that I genuinely enjoyed it. Recently I was reminded about it and decided to search it out and revisit the movie and see if the memory of it is as good as the actual film.

The leopard hat/suspender combo should just come with a shirt that reads,
"I'm a douche, feel free to punch me."

I did mention they were troublesome students, right?
 This 1987 film is about a group of bad students who are forced to go to summer school (ooh, that's where the title comes from) in order to pass remedial English. Forced to teach against his will, gym teacher Mr. Shoop (Mark Harmon) tries to bring his laid back style to the students. However, when his job is placed on the line, he’s forced to smarten up and try to actually teach the kids so he strikes a deal with them: He’ll help them with all their own, unique problems if they will button up and act like students and actively try to learn. Shoop quickly gets in trouble as the students take advantage of him and his job looks increasingly like it will be lost.

Look at that shirt.  Of course he's a laid back, hip teacher.

Going back to watch this movie I found that some of my memories of the film were pretty dead-on. I don’t remember being blown away from the movie (possibly because I was too young to get most of the stuff) but watching it now I realized the film was mildly entertaining and not bad.

I suddenly remember why I watched this movie so often as a young boy.

The story gets a little sloppy as the film doesn’t really show a progression of time very well.  Most of the improvements the students make along the way in the story are inferred and not really shown that much. Even the supposed bad teaching of Shoop that is explained by Vice Principal Gill (Robin Thomas) and fellow teacher and love interest for Shoop; Ms. Bishop (Kirstie Alley), is spoken of through dialogue and barely shown throughout the film. For example, Gill says Shoop takes his students a lot of field trips and in the movie we only see Shoop take the kids on two field trips at that point. I guess two is a lot.

Fashions were strange in the 80s.

Also, all the students’ problems are solved after a single one-on-one scene with Shoop. For example, Shawnee Smith plays Rhonda, a young girl who has a baby growing inside her (pregnant, the scientific term goes) and has no one to support her. She asks Shoop to be her Lamaze coach. We see Shoop go to one class and never seen him go again…but luckily another student swoops in and finds pregnant woman hot so he ends up being her Lamaze coach…and then Shawnee Smith’s character grows up, becomes a drug addict and then ends up being Jigsaw’s apprentice.

Look how the man in the marching band hat remains calm in a dire situation.

Well...maybe the benefits are worth the risk.
  However, there was something very creepy I found in this movie and that was the fact that one of the students (played by Courtney Thorne-Smith) wants to get with her teacher. Remember…SHE’S SIX-FUCKING-TEEN! But here’s the biggest problem: Shoop doesn’t really fight this. Shoop doesn’t hook up with the character of Pam but he doesn’t really push her away too hard either the way he should. For example, he agrees to help each student individual with their own problems (like I explained earlier) and her problem is finding a place to live and, once again with very little fight, he let’s her in and, only after Alley’s character explains to him how bad the situation looks (I can’t believe he actually had to have it explained to him) he informs Pam that he’s not the guy for her. I was a kid in the 80s but maybe a teacher in his mid-40s having his underage student live with him wasn’t frowned upon like it would be today.

Listen to Kirstie Alley in her pre-Scientology/the-only-time-you-hear-about-her-
is-when-they-talk-about-her-weight phase...that Kirstie won't stear you wrong.

Looks like every teacher I had.
 Overall, Summer School is an amusing movie from director Carl Reiner. It’s never incredibly laugh-out-loud funny but it has its amusing moments. Sure the plot is a little ragged and sloppy at points but it gets its point across—plus, were we really expecting more from a film that contains a character who calls himself Chainsaw? One of the most amusing things I found about the film actually has nothing to do with the actual movie itself but its listing on IMDb. When you look at the cast and crew section you’ll find a lot of the cast and their thumbnails next to their credit was taken from this film. That means that this little high student party film was the highlight of their career. But there are worse films you could go out on, I guess.

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