On the first day of summer, my Netflix sent to meeee…a Corvette and Bonadoo-cheeeee! Please welcome the Couch Baron as he kicks off our 12 Days Of Summer Movies coverage with Corvette Summer.
Before I can even start, I have to tell you that the DVD artwork alone is worth the rental price. A huuuuge shot of a 'Vette on one side is counterbalanced by Mark Hamill striking a "sexy" pose on the other while a frizzed-out Annie Potts, sporting six-inch heels, cutoffs that go higher than Daisy Duke ever imagined, and a tank top that gives new meaning to the term "sidal nudity," climbs all over him like a dog in heat. You guys, her fingers are literally down his pants. This is going to rock.
Hee hee. So, the overall plot of the movie can be summed up very quickly: Kenny (Mark Hamill), a graduating high-school senior who's into cars more than school or even girls, rescues a Corvette Stingray from a junkyard and, with the help of his fellow shop-classers, restores it to its full tricked-out splendor. Unfortunately, the car quickly gets stolen (a young Danny Bonaduce is partially responsible!), leading Kenny to Vegas in hot pursuit of the hot ride. Joining him along the way is Vanessa (Annie Potts), a girl from his hometown whose ambition in life is to make it as a hooker, and who apparently gave Jennifer Tilly the inspiration for the way she talks. With Vanessa's help, Kenny tracks down the 'Vette and temporarily ends up working for the people who stole it, only to snatch it back from them. Kenny and Vanessa win the movie's climactic car chase and return to Cali, where Kenny realizes that Some Things in life are More Important than cars. I swear I am not high.
Summer Timeline: Although the film does adhere to summer-movie conventions in that it starts right at the close of the school year, it departs from them in that the protagonist, freshly done with high school, isn't going on to college, and thus doesn't really have to finish his mission by the end of summer. Yet when alternate titles "Corvette June Through October" and "Corvette Sumtumn" came up short in focus groups, Kenny's work was cut out for him. Them's the breaks!
Enviable Vacation Locale: Summer in Vegas is no joke at the best of times, and the side of the city that Kenny sees consists solely of gas stations, fast-food joints, and the U-Haul (really) in which he ends up sleeping. I'll take my two weeks somewhere else — no, make that anywhere else.
Coming Of Age: I will say this: the movie certainly wants you to think it's a coming-of-age tale. You see, at the beginning of the film, Kenny is completely gung-ho about cars, to the point where he's neglected his studies and is a virgin. This requires us to assume that Kenny could have scored tons of tail if he'd only wanted it, despite the fact that he leers like a psycho through half the movie and his hair looks like Chris Meloni's in Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle. And that he's, you know, Mark Hamill. (He was in a disfiguring car crash! I'm not judging!) Kenny's shop teacher and apparent father figure (his mom is single, lives in a trailer, and gives Dawn Atwood from The O.C. a run for her money in terms of parenting efforts) tries to tell him that there's more to life than cars, but Kenny isn't hearing that, particularly when his 'Vette goes missing.
Kenny then meets Vanessa (so called because she drives a van; again, I'm not high) and her overt sexuality initially repels him but ends up attracting him, culminating in him tenderly boning her on the waterbed in the back of her van (did I mention this movie's from 1978?). This development evinces a revelation that would be unfair not to transcribe: "I drive my first car at nine, I overhaul my first transmission at ten, at thirteen I turn a quarter mile in twelve seconds, and I wait 'til now to get laid?"
The other plot point contributing to Kenny's coming of age is his discovery that his shop teacher/mentor is the one responsible for the car theft, and the sad-sack speech he gives Kenny about how hard it is to make ends meet makes me think it's a shame that "(S)he Works Hard For The Money" hadn't come out yet. Kenny's shocked response to this revelation: "Oh, Mr. McGrath. We laid up all that fiberglass together!" Eventually, Kenny successfully returns the car to his school, only to realize that getting laid is more important than driving a fast car. And while the movie may be silly, that particular message is hard to argue with, especially since that car, despite everyone in the movie's assertions to the contrary, is fugly. It looks like a scary smiling clown (even more so when The Dooch is driving it).
Random Awesomeness: The opening scene may well be the most overwrought of any movie I've ever seen, and it is great. Some high-school males are touring a car-crushing lot, where the dramatic music leads us to believe that one of them is going to be the victim of a horrible accident that will render him a thick, gooey, horny paste. But! The action actually ratchets up when Kenny flops down on a couch just as, like manna from heaven, a name plate reading "Corvette" in cheesy flowing script falls from a car on its way to certain doom! Mark Hamill gets as hysterical as he did when Luke was in the garbage smasher on the Death Star, and that may not say much for his range, but it's at least got a certain logic to it.
Kenny tries to stir the junkyard's denizens to action, but they all do their best Cletus impressions, so it's left to him to sprint across the yard, climb over some threatening-looking trash, and single-handedly SHUT THE MACHINE OFF as the music turns from urgent to triumphant. You guys, I just totally watched that scene again. Other points of note are the liberal use of "far out" as an unironic expression, Kenny catching up to the apparently unbelievably fast Stingray while riding a bicycle, and Kenny "explaining" to his mentor in a letter, "I'm going steady with a girl from Los Angeles. But don't worry, I still like cars."
I'll close with this unintentional (?) howler: "You're never gonna be a prostitute. You just don't have it in you." Indeed, Kenny. Indeed.
Worth The AC?: Totes.
Overall Suitability As A Summer Movie: A-minus.
Tags: 12 Days Of Summer Movies