We've entered the 12 Days Of Summer Movies homestretch, and Joe R winds up his time in the watcher's seat with Summer School, a movie with the dubious distinction of teaching me and my friends the one obscene gesture we hadn't already known previously.
For whatever reason, Summer School falls into a category with Adventures in Babysitting, The Princess Bride, and Labyrinth as far as movies I saw a billion times when I was a kid. Unfortunately, while The Princess Bride grew into a national treasure, Adventures in Babysitting became a cult favorite for Elisabeth Shue fans, and Labyrinth a cult favorite for goths, Bowie fans, and Muppet fans, Summer School kind of faded from view. Or at least from pay cable, where it seemed to run thrice daily in the late '80s and early '90s. There's no way I've seen this in at least a dozen years.
Summer Timeline: Summer school, duh. A bunch of ne'er-do-well high school students need to pass an English exam by the end of the summer to save Shoop's (Mark Harmon) job. In exchange, Shoop pledges to do one thing for each student, with favors ranging from driving lessons to statutory rape. Awesome!
Enviable Summer Locale: The movie takes place in a California surfing community of some kind. Of course, most of the action happens between the four walls of a classroom, but they manage to get to the beach once or twice.
Quick-Burning Summer Romance: Here's the thing: I never thought Mark Harmon was all that much of a hot ticket. Not on The West Wing or NCIS or…didn't he do a show with Marlee Matlin or something? Anyway, I'm still kind of lukewarm about 2008 Mark Harmon, but back in the day? I'd hit that. Anyway, he rubs up against Kirstie Alley in this movie. She alternates between coldly bitchy and warmly earthy, but in either iteration, the shoulder pads and high-waisted jeans are calling all the shots. As a romance, it's nothing special. The three-way kiss in the sand with the dog doesn't help.
Do The Characters Have Their Best Summer Ever?: Let's see…Denise learns to drive, Rhonda has a baby, Chainsaw and Dave get to stage a Tobe Hooper gore-fest in the classroom, Pam (Courtney Thorne-Smith!) almost gets to make it with 1987 Mark Harmon…it ain't the worst summer they've ever had.
Quality Of Beach/Summer Fashions: Gosh, where to begin? Start with Harmon's dizzying collection of flowered shirts and neon-rimmed shades; Kirstie's denim skirts and zebra print/denim shirt; Robin Thomas's checkered sportcoat and other peach-polo-shirt preppie identifiers; Kevin's half-shirt, which inexplicably is supposed to identify him as the jock rather than out him as a homosexual; Shoop's roller skates…the list really does go on and on.
Worth The A/C?: I gotta say, for a stupid '80s comedy, it's not bad. Marc Harmon's a peach, the students are all pretty much likeable (except for goddamn boundary-stepping, jailbait Pam), Chainsaw and Dave's teenage alcoholism is treated with the appropriate casualness, and Robin Thomas plays the perfect '80s asshole villain. Sure, the comedy's broad and the male stripper plot makes no sense (the kid's stripping so he can get a lot of action? And is it ever explained what Shoop was doing at the male strip club?), but it's better than almost all the shit Andrew McCarthy starred in.
Overall Suitability As Summer Movie: B-plus
Tags: 12 Days Of Summer Movies