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The Nostalgic Attic: One Crazy Summer (1986)

5 September 2013

One Crazy Summer (1986)


"Hey, Hoops, you ever notice how people die in alphabetical order?"

The Summer before I went to college was probably one of my favorites from my teenage years. The exams were done (who cared if you did well or not, you were finished school, fuck it!) and I had a well paying/low maintenace job which meant plenty of disposable income to facilitate my music, film and boozing habits. Three fun-filled months to party away with your friends before many of you went your separate ways with university; some you kept in touch with, others just drifted away over the years. What made it much more memorable was the fact that I finally had the break away from feeling like a kid; I could go to bars, go away on trips with friends, have house parties... hey, I could do whatever the hell I wanted! All of these were the great things that made the end of your teenage years so special. They were fun times, and I had good cause to be happy.


 Not so for Hoops McCann, anyway. Hoops (John Cusack; The Sure Thing, Say Anything), having been rejected for a basketball scholarship just after graduating, decides he will apply for design school instead. Whilst trying to write a cartoon love story, he gets wrangled into joining his best friend George Calamari (Joel Murray; God Bless America) on the island of Nantucket for the summer break. On the trip there, Hoops bumps into aspiring musician Cassandra (Demi Moore; St. Elmos Fire, About Last Night, Ghost), who is on the run with a bag of cash from some silly looking bikers. Helping her across to the island, she explains that she needs the cash to save her deceased grandfathers house from falling into the greedy hands of the greedy Beckersted family. Along for the adventure are some of Georges friends; the dimwitted Egg (Bobcat Goldthwait; Police Academy 2, Scrooged, Tapeheads) and his brother, Clay (Tom Villard; Grease 2, Heartbreak Ridge, Popcorn) and put-upon military kid Ack Ack (Curtis Armstrong; Risky Business, Revenge of the Nerds, Better off Dead). Not to forget Georges kid sister, Squid, and her poor little doggy that everyone picks on.


The not-so-nice guys are made up of the beefy Teddy Bekersted (Matt MulhernBiloxi Blues, Extreme Prejudice) and his foxy girlfriend Cookie (Kimberley FosterDragnet, Love Bites). Like many comedies from the era, One Crazy Summer is more interested in throwing sketches and character moments at you than it is with delving deep into plot, for the most part. The guys hang out on the beach, George gets buried to his neck in sand and has a fat guy sit on his face, the dopey brothers are left in charge of minding the big mechanical shark for the Jaws rip off that is being filmed, Egg hijacks a pool party by the Beckersteds whilst dressed as Godzilla, Hoops goes on a few dates with Cookie, Georges crazy uncle spends the whole summer glued to the radio in case he wins a million dollars, and much more. Things finally settle down towards the climax in which our heroes must enter the regatta in order to save Cassandras house, and claim victory over the Beckersted family for good. Will their crappy boat win the race? Will Teddy get the comeuppance he deserves? Will Hoops finally get it on with Cassandra? Who knows what could happen during this crazy summer!


How much you like One Crazy Summer depends greatly on how much you like its director, Savage Steve Holland. he has a tendency to stuff as much as he can into his screenplays, and while majority of it works, some moments just fall flat. Like his previous film, Better Off Dead, there is plenty of animated segments and borderline surrealist humour. I feel that both films find their feet at around the 20 minute mark, and if you are on board at that point, you will love it. If not, maybe best to skip it. The throwaway jokes are fairly obvious, though that doesn't mean it isn't funny. The visual gags are mostly well done, and all the characters are likable, even the bad guys. The minimal plot means every scene is there to serve the humour, bar one or two dramatic moments which never last too long. Some of the finer moments include; the two little girls who have been turned ugly by making faces at the sick little doggy ("There are some really ugly looking kids on this island"), Bobcat handing the kite to the little kid, the two brothers dumping the lobsters into the Bekersteds swimming pool and the bazooka charged finale, not to mention the giant mechanical shark and a porsche engine strapped to a boat.


The performances range from good to bland. Cusack of course leads the way, finding a good spot between slightly depressed teen and funny guy. There was a good reason the man was successful; he was just so bloody charming. Demi Moore is less successful in her straight role; she doesn't bring much to the table in terms of likability, and there is a distinct lack of chemistry between the two leads. She does sing her own songs though, so she deserves some kudos for that. Joel Murray as George Calamari is grand, though he takes a while to warm up to. Bobcat does his usual, ie, Bobcat, and he manages to steal a few scenes (his story about the little fat kid is genuinely funny), but once again, not everyone is a fan of the man. I dig him, though. We also get a few cameos from other well-known faces, such as John Matuszak (Sloth from The Goonies) as a pink wigged biker, Jeremy Piven (Lucas, Say Anything, Singles) as a jockish bad guy for a change, and the very recognisable Joe Flaherty (Club Paradise, Freaks and Geeks) as Ack Acks military-obsessed father.


Savage Steve handles the pacing and direction well, and the boat race finale plays out great. I guess the problem for One Crazy Summer is that it almost feels like an unofficial sequel to Better Off Dead. It's hard to compete with that early film, and One Crazy Summer just doesn't stack up as well. The comedy is never quite as funny, nor the characters quite as interesting. It's very hard not to compare the two, as they have the same lead man and very similar style. But hey, it is still an enjoyable time. re-watching it uncovers gags you may have missed, and by the time the credits roll you feel you have gotten to know this bunch of endearing oddballs. It might sound like I've been fairly critical of it here; it does have its rough parts, but in general it's a solidly fun experience once you get into it, and it can be hilarious in places. If you are looking for something to replace your worn-out Caddyshack or Meatballs tape with, then you can't go wrong with this.




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6 Comments:

At 11 September 2013 at 12:58 , Blogger Grimm said...

You're exactly right! It does have rough spots, but it makes up for them with the funny, over-the-top parts! I can see how some people wouldn't get into this, but I sure as hell like it. And you did it justice with your review!

 
At 13 September 2013 at 07:23 , Blogger JP Mulvanetti said...

Cheers man, glad you dug this one as much as I did. The humour is an acquired taste, but most who don't take themselves too seriously should find themselves laughing along.

 
At 29 May 2014 at 12:01 , Blogger Craig Edwards said...

Savage Steve Holland was a name to reckon with in the 80's. Better Off Dead is one of my favorite movies of all time. It is endlessly rewatchable and hilarious every time. Then SSH made two more movies in the 80's and each was a little less good than the previous. So Better Off Dead amazing. One Crazy Summer good. And How I Got Into College meh. Somewhere in there SSH made a TV show cal The Adventure of Beans Baxter or something like that and it was awesome - a kid as spy spoof that was really funny. I think he has since retreated into kiddie TV but I haven't checked any of that out.

 
At 29 May 2014 at 12:31 , Blogger JP Mulvanetti said...

Fully agreed there - though I haven't seen How I got into College since it came out, but it is here waiting for a viewing. It was hard to beat Better Off Dead, it's one of the best comedies going. I've never seen any of his TV work (that I'm aware of) but it might be worth investigating.

 
At 30 July 2014 at 06:26 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally agree! Better Off Dead is one of my ALL TIME favorites. I actually have "Like To Get To Know You Well" on my MP3

 
At 30 July 2014 at 08:27 , Blogger JP Mulvanetti said...

Awesome, everyone should really have the soundtrack to BOD! Thanks for stopping by!

 

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