Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Summer of 8: The Last Frolic Before Real Life Starts
is one of those teen rites of passage. After four years of ruling high school
as part of the most popular clique and subsequently lazing through summer
spending every day at the beach, you realize your life could potentially be
slightly less awesome when you start college with a clean slate. We have all
been there, so we can all relate to the pressing First World problems of the seven
remarkably fit teens and the crass dude who supplies comic relief in Ryan
Schwartz’s Summer of 8 (trailer here), which opens
tomorrow in New York.
just assume Jesse has it easy because he has an attractive girlfriend, three
worshipful best buds, and has apparently never worked a day in his life. He
still craves the love and approval of the father who died when he was tragically
young. There, don’t you feel small now? Jesse also has a more practical dilemma.
Should he try to maintain a long distance relationship with Lily when they go
off to different schools, or should he throw her over in favor of someone more convenient.
His cool mom Diane will support his decision either way.
Aiden has one last day to profess his stalkerish love for Serena, who could
pass for Jennifer Garner’s kid sister. Oscar the horndog is less fussy. He will
sleep with any girl with a pulse. In contrast, the sexually confident Jen is
done with high school boys and ready to move up to the collegiate leagues.
Although she totally rocks a bikini, Emily the overachiever is starting to
regret not sleeping around more, but not enough to get with Oscar. That just
leaves codependent Bobby and his conspicuously repressed sexual issues, who is
still smarting from Jesse’s last minute decision to attend a different
university. Since it is their last day before leaving for college, Jesse has
pledged to make it special, with sun and surf and beer and drugs, so really it
is just like every other day they passed this summer.
is easy to snark out over the melodramas of the rich and pretty, but it should
be conceded Schwartz really nails the bittersweet vibe of the final hang with
school friends. Some might (hopefully) identify with it more in relation to
their last day of college, but everyone has gone through those drunken,
blubbery “I love you, mans.”
though So8 gets the teen fin de siècle
atmosphere right, the general tone is still somewhat baffling. It sometimes
feels like Schwartz is splitting the difference between a naughty spring break
comedy and a teens-are-people-too John Hughes dramedy. It is also hard to get
around the fact their issues are all rather small potatoes in the grand scheme
of life. The loss of Jesse’s father might have been an exception, but his life
appears the most charmed. One thing is certain—nobody mentions a job, not even
in the contemptuous past tense.
So8 will be a nightmare for Occupy
Wall Street thugs, because the attractive cast is so likable and engaging
on-screen. As Aiden and Serena, Michael Grant and Bailey Noble are particularly
effective forging some eleventh hour romantic chemistry together. Matt Shively
and Natalie Hall also generate a few welcome laughs as the obnoxious dude and
the ice queen. Only in the world of So8 would
Rachel DiPillo pass for the shy bookworm, but so be it. Frankly, the weak links
are the generic looking Carter Jenkins, Nick Marini, and Shelly Hennig, who are
all pretty vanilla as Jesse, Bobby, and Lily. Frankly, Sony Walger dramatically
upstages everyone as Diane.
Any way you chose to measure it, So8 is a small film. However, there is
no denying the nostalgia for frittered away youth that it inspires. It is also
releasing at the perfect time of year for it. If you are looking for a handsome,
light-weight, sun-tussled film, Summer of
8 might fit the bill when it opens tomorrow (9/2) in New York, at the