- Movie Rating -

Summer School (1987)

| July 22, 1987

I went to summer school and I can tell you that it didn’t look anything like the movie Summer School.  Most of the kids, I remember, were angry discipline cases who cut class during the year, started fights and seemed to have no parental boundaries or structure.  They were troubled kids who seemed headed, if not to legal problems, to a life of general mediocrity.  I mention it because I would like to have seen a movie about kids like that, those who attend summer school for one reason or another.  These were the kids that I experienced during my summer there.

Summer School isn’t playing in that arena.  It’s a dumb hack-strung sitcom that is so lazy that it can’t even illicit a pliable message.  No kidding, the message imparted by the teacher at the end of this movie is that because a kid went from a score of 18 to 49 that they should be commended.  If that were true I might have sought a scholarship to Harvard.

The movie is the starring debut of Mark Harmon – Dr. Caldwell on “St. Elsewhere” – who I sincerely hope is not depending on this movie to rocket him to big screen stardom.  He plays Freddy Shoop, a high school athletics director who is your basic loafer and seems to have gotten into education just to have his summers off.  After the teacher that was suppose to teach remedial English (played by director Carl Reiner) wins the lottery, Freddy reluctantly gets the job,

That means he has to wade into a crowd of types: the slut, the loser, the pregnant girl (who gives birth as the climax), the party animal, the foreigner, all played by actors who are at least in their mid-20s.  Nothing new here.  They are all undisciplined, of course, but that doesn’t encourage Freddy to want to teach them any more than they want to learn.  His basic strategy: don’t make any effort to teach anything, just lower your standards and make sure that they show up.  What follows is not a story so much as a series of episodic scenes designed to show how much fun these kids are having with their teacher while also, in the 11th hour, painting shades drama around the edges so that we have something that looks like a movie.

Again, I thought back to the kids who really do attend summer school, not just the discipline cases but those who, like me, who were put into the summer class because their best efforts came to nothing.  That would be an interesting subject for a movie.  Maybe not great box office, but it would be better than anything presented here.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1987) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy