Fun In the Summertime (Summer School, 1987)

Summer_School_PosterRob Reiner was a prolific funny man.  He gave us decades of laughter and joy before his passing this week.  In his memory, I am taking a look at an under-rated… well not classic…but one of those films of his I don’t hear much about.

Mark Harmon is slacker gym teacher Freddy Shoop is ready to run off to Hawaii for the summer with his girlfriend when he is forced to be the english teacher for the summer for kids who failed their remedial english test. His girlfriend runs off without him, leaving him with a class of goof offs and generally distracted students.

The Vice Principal hates Shoop and holds his tenure and job over his head if the entire class does not pass. This results in Shoop and the class making a bargain.  He helps each of them with one thing they need. And at first this seems to be working, until the kids start getting greedy when Shoop suggests they all put in some more time.

Summer School has a flimsy plot, but Reiner is really trying to entertain more than anything here, and it he uses his skill with comedy tropes to make even the thinnest of ideas work.

This film has an incredibly 80’s cast (certainly, most of them are still active, but this was their hey day).  Probably the most memorable characters are Chainsaw and Dave.  While falling into that stock dumb buddies, they feel very different from characters like Bill and Ted or the later Wayne and Garth.  Horror movie lovers and burgeoning make-up artists there are a couple funny set piece scenes that put their wild imaginations at the center. They also share an infatuation for exchange student Anna-Maria that somehow Reiner manages to keep fairly safe.  They are never in competition over her, they just both have an almost puppy dog devotion to both each other and her.  Yeah, her character is the very stock “Barely Speaks English Hottie”, but the film keeps everything so light that it works pretty well.

This is not a classic like the Jerk, but it is a really fun film and a good diversion on a Sunday afternoon.

 

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