- Movie Rating -

Summering (2022)

| August 18, 2022

The opening scenes of Summering got on my nerves.  If there’s anything that irritates me it is yet another movie about a group of friends on the cusp of growing up who are experiencing that tipping point before a measure of maturity becomes their beast of burden.  After this “nothing will ever be the same again.”  Ugh, my kingdom for a Tylenol.

Summering is especially galling because the adventure of four friends – Daisy (Lia Barnett), Dina (Madalin Mills), Mari (Eden Grace Redfield), and Lola (Sanai Victoria) – is fraught with the kinds of in-depth conversation that kids of this age (about 11 to 12) would never have.  It feels like the kind of dialogue made up by adults writing for children with no idea how they interact.

Anyway, the girls are just about to head off to different Junior High Schools and so they have to go to the sacred tree called Terabithia and pay tribute.  It wasn’t helped by the next scene in which the girls walk deep into the woods and find a dead body.

Okay . . . wait a minute!

I’ve seen this movie!  It was called Stand By Me and it was infinitely better.  For one thing, the discovery of the dead body was a metaphor for the passing of the boy’s innocence.  For another, that movie didn’t dwell on the discovery of the body.  It was a potent punctuation on their journey into the difficult world of adolescence.  In Summering, the girls find the body early on and keep returning to the same spot.  Worse, they keep talking about it, and talk and talk and talk and talk when we know that their first line of defense is to simply call the police.

But no, the movie belabors the mystery of this man for a purpose that seems so arbitrary that we feel that the screenwriter is just filling time.  Most agonizing is a scene in which the girls enter a bar and begin asking questions and, par for the course of this movie, are not immediately shuffled out the door.  No, they question the bartender and some of the patrons who, it turns out, do remember this particular fellow, that he sat at the end of the bar and that he played the Galaga machine in the corner.  And yes, the girls play the game and are somewhat bemused by it.  But what are we to take from that?  The film is set in the present and the open-eyed mystery of such an 8-bit retread means nothing to them.  Perhaps if the film were set in the 1980s, the wonder of such a device might have some weight.

The whole movie is like that.  The screenwriters, Benjamin Percy and James Ponsoldt, never seem to tap into the experience of kids growing up in the third-decade Millennium.  The underlying tapestry speaks more to kids growing up 30 years ago.  The M3 generation is generally tapped into devices, pop culture, social media.  The idea of returning to a sacred tree one last time seems like something that Percy and Ponsoldt might have done in their youth.  So too does the kid’s dialogue which sounds like adults looking back at their youth.  Perhaps, the 70s or 80s might have been a better setting for these kinds of childhood tenets.  As it is, it seems oddly out of place.

But anyway, back to the dead body.  The whole plot involving the dead man is arbitrary and silly.  The girl’s final decision over what to do about it is just plain stupid.  There’s nothing clear or meaningful about what happens.  At least in Stand By Me the body was the end of the journey, and in between we got real substance about the mean and cruel world that the boys were entering.  Here, the only real concern are helicopter parents.  There isn’t a single discussion about anything real going on in their actual lives.  It’s all just patter for the plot.  It’s all for the course of crossing the horizon of adolescence where Nothing Will Ever Be the Same Again.  Yeesh!

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2022) View IMDB Filed in: Drama