Days of Summer #2: Carl Reiner’s “Summer School” (1987)


Summer SchoolIn my book, there’s a distinct difference between “Summer Movies” and “Movies to Watch During Summer”, although they’re not mutually exclusive terms. While the term “Summer Movie” denotes a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster released during the months of May, June, July, or August, it is typically the case that these films have very little to do with the actual season. In this new feature, I’ll be ranting and raving about my favorite “Movies to Watch During Summer”, to anybody who cares to listen.

Summer School
Summer School (1987, Dir: Carl Reiner)

True story: I would not have seen Summer School had my actual summer school Driver’s Ed teacher not decided to turn off Red Pavement (or whatever blood-soaked scare flick he had on that day in lieu of an actual lesson) and said to us “Hey! Why not spend time with my favorite summer school class?

At first we were flattered because we thought he might actually speak to us, but then he took out a well-loved VHS copy of this film and we quickly realized he wasn’t talking about bonding with his own class, but rather with a bunch of fictional characters that existed purely on the well-worn magnetic tape of his precious videocassette.

I still can’t parallel park worth a shit, but I think being introduced to this gem of a movie is a fair trade.

Basically, the film is about the coolest teacher ever, Mr. Shoop (Mark Harmon), who finds out on the last day of school that he has to teach remedial English instead of going on vacation. HAHAHA! GET IT? He’s a TEACHER and now HE’S stuck in summer school! Take that, Shoops!

So of course, Shoop’s class is a bunch of misfits and weirdos. And of course, he has to teach ‘em a thing or two about being your own person. And of course, he has the hots for rival teacher Kirstie Alley.

Long story short, this movie is so aggressively fun and junky in such a light, good-spirited way that it easily makes the grade for required summer viewing.

Best Way to Watch: End of the school year, of course! If you’re in school, watch it immediately after your last final. If you’re not in school, ask the first kid you see on the street what day they get out of school so you can plan an accurate viewing day. This is a question best posed to a child when screamed at them from the driver’s seat of a moving cargo van while brandishing a roll of duct tape out the window.

Best Paired with: A veritable seafood smorgasbord of fried calamari, battered shrimp, and breaded trout. As for drinking, if you’re still in high school, you should observe the federal law pertaining to underage drinking and absolutely not enjoy Mai Tais while watching this film. It’s not like you’ve earned it or anything. And it’s not like Mr. Shoop would totally bail you out of trouble if you got caught.

Further Viewing: Lest we forget, director Carl Reiner is also responsible for the 1985 John Candy vehicle Summer Rental, about an air traffic controller who makes the grievous mistake of taking his family on summer vacation. Reiner is pretty much the Akira Kurosawa of whacky 80’s comedies that have the word “summer” in the title.


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Categories: Features, Reviews


  1. Days of Summer #5: Richard Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused” (1993) | - June 13, 2014

    […] Best Way to Watch: My article on Summer School pretty much covered this. […]

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