Sunday, July 12, 2015

Movie Review: "Summer School" (1987)

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Movie"Summer School"
Director: Carl Reiner
Year: 1987
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

When the remedial English teacher wins $50,000 on a lottery scratcher, he backs out of teaching summer school. As a last minute replacement, the gym teacher Freddy Shoop (Mark Harmon), who was planning on going to Hawaii for summer vacation, is forced to teach the class. Shoop, not ever teaching anything other than gym, isn't sure how to handle his rambunctious students. His first few days are little more than fun and filled with field trips, but when Vice Principal Gills (Robin Thomas Grossman) gives Shoop an ultimatum, he is forced to buckle down and teach. He must also get his students to pass the English efficiency exam, or he will lose his job. 

Summer is known as a time of fun, a relaxation period for the school-aged youth of America, if you will. Unfortunately, some youngins don't pay attention during the year, goofing off during class to the point where they are forced to spend their summers retaking their failed courses. This is the case for the students in the film "Summer School," though their reasons for attending are because of a wide range of circumstances. Mark Harmon plays gym teacher Freddy Shoop, who is a laid back, California surfer type of dude. He's a bro who only knows about gym and would rather be friends with his students than a teacher to them. His plans to spend a summer in Hawaii are ruined when he is made to teach remedial English over the summer break, forced to oblige when threatened to not have his tenure granted by vice principal Gills. The only people who want to be in class less than Shoop are his students, which are a very eclectic mix of kids. His class is filled with miscreants of the worst level: there's a football player who has to retake English or be kicked off the team; a surfer girl with a major crush on Shoop; a pregnant teenager who is going to give birth any second; a young girl who has dyslexia but doesn't know it; and a pair of alcoholic, horror-loving clowns who seem to share a brain named Dave and Chainsaw, played by Gary Riley and Dean Cameron. In an effort to get something done for a change, Shoop makes a deal with his students: he will grant them each one wish in exchange for their cooperation during the summer, in the hopes that they will pass his class and he can get his tenure and stay hired on as a gym teacher.

This is one of those really fun comedies that just feels so very 80's, even more so when revisiting it in 2015.  In many ways, it is very formulaic, right down to the studying musical montage right smack dab in the middle of the movie, but this formulaic plot doesn't make it any less of a good time. There are a lot of laughs and chuckles offered up throughout the film, often from the aforementioned horror-loving class clowns Dave and Chainsaw. They give the movie a lot of its more silly and obnoxious, humorous moments, but then, there are some very snarky and smart replies from Mark Harmon, who is quick on his toes with these responses. There is also some good quippy humor from many of the other characters and a few awkward situations where you can't help but laugh. It is also one of those underdog stories that we can all root for since we know what it's like to be students and struggle with out studies. The students are thought to be hopeless and Shoop doesn't fully know what he's doing, but we want to know if they can rise above what's expected. With some truly fun, great and memorable moments, along with some quotable lines, it may be cheesy, but this is sure a wonderful summer movie. Kick back, pull up a pillow, and relax with this comedy!!

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 61%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Night Moves" and "Dazed and Confused"

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