One Crazy Summer
The Couch Baron is back with today's summer-movie offering…and he's not happy about it. Bad acting, contrivance, a series of cutesy nicknames, and a boat race all add up to One Crazy Summer.
Dude, I don't even know what to say about this one. Okay, I'll try, but if I get some details wrong, don't bother telling me, because I don't care and it really doesn't matter. I mean, that big fake dolphin alone!
So, "Hoops" (John Cusack), despite his declaration that he doesn't want to be a "party monkey" (?), gets dragged to Nantucket for the summer by his idiot friend George (Joel Murray, who's currently playing Freddy Rumsen over on Mad Men). On the way, they rescue big-haired "musician" Cassandra (Demi Moore) from a biker gang.
Hoops is so called apparently because he's great at basketball, except then he isn't, but then he is. …No idea. Also, he wants to go to art school, which he demonstrates by drawing (there's a lot of sad animation scattered throughout the film) a continuing story about a hapless rhinoceros, a blind Cupid, and several mean and alcoholic fuzzy rabbits. Again, no idea.
Once on Nantucket, Hoops and George form a gang of unlikable misfits with functionally retarded "twins" Egg (Bobcat Goldthwait) and Clay (Tom Villard) and other friend Ack Ack (over-30-at-the-time Curtis Armstrong, who you'll remember as Booger from Revenge Of The Nerds, so named here because of his military father. You see, "Ack Ack" sounds like a machine gun. Get it? Me neither) to help Cassandra rescue a house (inherited from her grandfather) and its underprivileged occupants from the clutches of evil developer Aquilla Beckersted (Mark Metcalf, whom Buffy fans will know as The Master and, in a far more amusing coincidence that anything in this movie, was also The Maestro on Seinfeld), who wants to take time from his busy mustache-twirling and dog-kicking schedule (I'm not kidding; he actually kicks a dog) to turn the place into a chain lobster restaurant.
Also in Hoops and Co.'s way are Metcalf's son Teddy (Matt Mulhern), who's the typical bully who needs Daddy's approval, and his gang of goons, including Ty (Jeremy Piven), who may still have his own hair here in 1986 but nevertheless looks miles out of high school. (Piven has worked with Cusack many times since, which doesn't do a whole lot for my opinion of him.) After Cassandra enterprisingly uses Mace to save Hoops from getting his ass kicked, he repays her by heavily promoting her upcoming local gig, thus enabling her to raise the astronomical amount of back mortgage money she needs to keep the house (three grand!).
But when Beckersted dubiously beats Cassandra to the bank, it's left to the misfits to win a regatta (there had to be one, didn't there?) against all odds, including Hoops's fear of boats, which convinces Beckersted's dad (William Hickey), who really wears the pants in the family, to give the house back to Cassandra. You guys, I'm reading what I wrote and not believing it. Did this movie really happen?
Coming Of Age/Fast-Burning Summer Romance: The two are intertwined in this film, as Hoops's problem with drawing the "illustrative love story" that is his art-school-scholarship assignment is that, according to him, he's never been in love. (By the way, at his graduation, he tells us the assignment is due in two weeks, yet the movie ends well into August and he still hasn't turned it in, like, nice timeline, movie.) But how can you not fall in love with spunky Cassandra, who crosses gender stereotypes by helping the boys build a boat, and encourages us with incisive lyrics like "Don't Look Back"? (Seriously, there's almost nothing more to the performed-by-Demi-Moore song than those three words, repeated a hundred times on the same notes, and that's what the crowd at her gig goes completely apeshit over. Also, Cassandra manages to obtain shiny new equipment and a full band and backup singers to play with her, as always happens to broke-ass musicians, and Hoops is in charge of collecting money at the door. Given how much cash she pulled in, I bet the management regrets apparently giving up their cut, but at least they know not to look back!) Hoops's last resistance is broken down when he confesses his fear of boats, and Cassandra counters with this: "Maybe you just haven't had the right kind of experience on a boat." Filming this movie can't have helped.
Enviable Vacation Locale: Hey, it's Nantucket — beach, sailing, and seafood in abundance, and even a drive-in movie theater! However, the appeal of all these things is somewhat diminished by the fact that the entire population seems to be socially retarded in one way or another. Even poor Billie Bird is completely unlikable! Who knew that was even possible after Sixteen Candles?
Quality Of Beach/Summer Fashions: Hoops wears some pretty short shorts in the film, and it's not like I have anything particularly against John Cusack's legs, unlike the rest of him, but didn't Ocean Pacific make longer offerings even back then? Other than that, the standard assortment of eighties beachwear and hairdos are on display, except, of course, when it comes to rebel Cassandra, who refuses to ditch her heavy leather jacket or to conform to any local norms when it comes to her hair. As Teddy notes about her style, "She wears, like, these braids. What do they call them, cornhusks?" Sure. We'll go with that.
"Humor": At one point, Egg gets himself stuck in a Godzilla costume, goes to spy on Teddy at a party announcing more development projects of Teddy's dad's, gets a lit cigar pitched into his mouth (good thing it didn't go into the azaleas!) and freaks, running around stomping on a model city with smoke coming out of the Godzilla jaws. It wasn't worth the time it took to type that, much less to film it. Worse still are the presence of several running gags: two girls who make faces and, to the delight of grandmothers everywhere but no one else, get them stuck that way; George being trapped under a chair (yes, more than once) and getting farted on by a portly beachgoer, causing two paramedics later to argue over who has to give him mouth-to-mouth; numerous jokes about how people find it hard to believe that Egg and Clay are twins, even though they don't even seem like they belong to the same species (neither of those species being sapien). I feel kind of bad completely harshing on Villard, because he's actually got some comic talent, and also is dead. But I guess the second part means he probably won't mind.
Really, though, the only actual humor comes unintentionally, such as when George successfully jumps his car onto a departing ferry even though the lead-up shots made it clear he would have had a better chance of making it across the Grand Canyon, or when Teddy and his girlfriend Cookie (yeah, I know) get bitten by the most incredibly fake-looking lobsters you've ever seen. My guess is that all the real lobsters read the script and refused to sign the performance agreement, but that just makes me wonder why the people involved didn't do the same. I'll never understand actors.
Worth The A/C?: Not even on, like, Tatooine. Cusack may be the world's biggest douche, but he did some fun teen movies. This is not one of them.
Overall Suitability As A Summer Movie: D
Tags: 12 Days Of Summer Movies