February 02, 2013

Summer School

Summer School (1987) is a breezy, aimless, totally dispensable 80s comedy starring Mark Harmon as a breezy, aimless, totally dispensable gym teacher who gets roped into teaching remedial English over the summer. He doesn't have the first clue as to how he will reach his cadre of disengaged, under-achieving students, all of whom have slipped through the public educational system. Cue lots of montages of students and teacher on field trips to an amusement park, a petting zoo, and the beach. Eventually, he decides he must actually teach them something, but they will only agree to pay attention and study if he will grant each of them one favor.

The thing about Summer School that stays with you is how incredulous much of it is. This teacher doesn't just bend over backwards for his students. He allows them to throw a party at his house, teaches one of them how to drive, arranges a screening of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in class, lets a female student (who's obviously in love with him) stay at his house for several days, and attends Lamaze class with another one of the girls, who's about to break water any minute.

So you can't expect much in the way of credibility from Summer School, but it is amusing, despite the fact that much of it is exceedingly ridiculous. Mark Harmon is affably oblivious to the world around him, and Kirstie Alley lends a little charm as a fellow teacher/romantic entanglement. The "students" (many of whom appear to be ten years older than actual high-school age) are alternately obnoxious and appealing. With Robin Thomas, Patrick Labyorteaux, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Dean Cameron, Gary Riley, Richard Horvitz, Kelly Jo Minter, Shawnee Smith, Ken Olandt, and Fabiana Udenio. Directed by Carl Reiner.

No comments: