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The 80s was a time of both great music and great film making. Whether it was action, comedy, drama, or all of those combined, the decade of hair and flair really gave the world some great timeless classics to enjoy for years to come. Taking a step away from the classics, I decided to watch Summer School (1987), a film about a gym teacher who is forced to teach Remedial English during the California summer.
Freddy Scoop (Mark Harmon) is about to head off to enjoy his summer on the beautiful beaches of Hawaii when the vice principle assigns him to teach summer school to keep his tenure. Having little to no knowledge of how to teach anything other than sports, Scoop struggles to connect with the un-motivated group of misfits he is forced to teach. After taking advantage of field trip privileges, the vice principle threatens him again, saying all his students must pass the final exam if he wants to keep his job.
This kicks Scoop into action and, with the help of fellow summer school teacher Robin (Kirstie Alley), he makes a deal with his students that if they agree to focus on school work he will grant them one wish each, a favor of their choosing. From little things like teaching one student to drive to attending Lamaze classes to throwing a party at his home, Scoop has his hands full looking after his group of teen misfits. After one student asks to move in with him, things begin to get out of hand. From fires in his home, arrests on the boardwalk and having his car wrecked, Scoop begins to feel the aftermath of being taken advantage of by his students. He must give up or shape up if he wants any of his students to look to him as a role model rather than a crutch to lean on.
Quirky and immature fits the setting and the characters well. While it tries to throw drama in on some occasions, it really never truly reaches the mark. Harmon’s character is the only one who actually has any sort of substance. All the students are just dust in the air. Even though they all have their own obstacles and struggles throughout the film, none of them really impact it that much to make their presence memorable.
A lot of what happens in the film is complete nonsense (at least for this day and age). While teaching a student to drive or watching a film in class is commonplace, no teacher could throw a party for there students or have one move in with them without major repercussions. Grant it, it is fictional and can’t really be read in to that seriously, but it completely negates any attempt at making the film seem anything but silly. That doesn’t make this film bad, just not great.
It’s the perfect film to sit down to if your feeling blue. There are some great scenes and one-liners scattered all throughout which will force out a good chuckle. Don’t expect to relay any underlying messages, just enjoy it for what it is; stupid, brainless and fun.