August 3, 2016

Summer School

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A note from the guys: This week, we're instituting a new rating system: The Clint Howard-O-Meter!


As we all know, every movie should contain Clint Howard, either in person, or in spirit. This scale will tell you just how much of Clint Howard's snaggle-toothed, sleepy-eyed awesomeness is contained within each week's movie. For instance, this week's movie is rated at 0.5 on the Clint Howard-O-Meter. This means that, while Clint could have appeared in the film--possibly as a weird janitor or science teacher, he does not. We have put this down to a poor judgement call on the part of Carl Reiner, the film's director.

Keep in mind, this is by no means a definitive scale. It could have been a scale rating the film's Eddie Deezen-ness, but we're not scientists, and trying to rate that would surely have resulted in hurt feelings, and possibly physical injuries.

Anyway, let's get to the movie, shall we? -- The Here Be Spoilers Crew

*****

Summer! When the kids get out of school and immediately start complaining that there's nothing to do!

Summer! When you take the family on vacation and end up not speaking to each other by the end of the trip because someone blamed somebody else for cheating at Monopoly!

Summer! When multimillion dollar movies hit the theaters and wow the viewers with special effects and amazing stories!

Summer! When the not-so-academically-inclined kids have to try making up for their lack of effort during the normal school year...

Only one of the above is related in any way at all to this week's movie. Care to guess which one?

Looks like someone needs a hint.
Okay, okay. If you read the title at the top of the page, we can assume you already know. If not, you should probably pay closer attention to stuff. In that case, we might even suggest you go back to...summer...school...! (For the record, we are not proud of this joke.)

Yes, this week, at Larry's behest, the guys sat down to watch Mark Harmon and Kirstie Alley in Summer School, a movie that dares to ask, "What if the guy from NCIS was an on-the-spectrum, Hawaiian shirt-wearing gym teacher who had to teach remedial English to a bunch of kids who are way older than their characters are supposed to be, while still maintaining his wacky outlook on life, as well as attempting to bone the vice principal's girlfriend, a woman who was once a Vulcan in Starfleet, but then moved on to run a bar in Boston?"

No, not Kim Cattrall...
This is clearly a movie with a lot to say.

Mark Harmon is Freddy Shoop, a man with a plan. That plan includes going to Hawaii for the summer with his girlfriend (Amy Stock) and probably having a lot of disappointing sex (for her) and crying (for him). Unfortunately, when the teacher (Carl Reiner, who also directed) who agreed to stick around to teach the summer school students ditches after he wins a bunch of money on an instant lottery ticket, the vice principal, Phil Gills (Robin Thomas), tells Shoop that he has to do it.

On his first day, Shoop meets Robin Bishop (Kirstie Alley), another summer school teacher, and immediately decides, quite reasonably, that he wants to get up in them guts. One minor issue that stands in Shoop's way on this front, though, is that Robin is dating Gills, the stock "stuffed suit" required for films like these in the 80s.

Dude! He totally was a bitchen uptight guy!
Shoop's students are a walking collection of ABC After School Specials. There's Pam (Courtney Thorne Smith), the surfer chick who wants to sleep with her teacher; Dave (Gary Riley) and Chainsaw (Dean Cameron), a couple of alcoholic horror film fans; Denise, a dyslexic girl; Larry (Ken Olandt), the constantly sleeping kid who works nights at a strip club; Rhonda (Shawnee Smith), the obligatory pregnant teen; Anna-Maria (Fabiana Udenio), the hot foreign exchange student; and Eakian (Richard Steven Horvitz), who has no neck.

As the Beaver.
There's also another student, Jerome (Duane Davis), but he was missing from most of the movie because he was trapped in the bathroom. Really.

At first, Shoop attempts to be friends with his students--taking them on field trips to petting zoos, theme parks, and the beach--before realizing that none of that stuff has anything to do with teaching English. When he tries to actually teach them, they present a list of demands. Dave and Chainsaw want a party and a chauffeur, and they steal Anna-Maria's request (because, you know, she's foreign and stuff), and request an in-class screening of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Rhonda needs a breathing coach. Denise needs driving lessons. Larry needs a bed in class. Eakian just wants to be invited to the party. Oh, and Pam needs a place to live. That one is easily fixed by her moving in with Shoop. setting him up for years of potential jail time.

Yup. Absolutely sixteen-years-old. Not a minute older. Nope.
For a while, it seems that things are going well. But then, after a small couch fire, some fish murder, and charges for contributing to the delinquency of minors, Shoop decides it's time to get serious. This is largely because Robin and Gills had to bail him out of jail, but Gills says he's willing to forget all about this stuff if Shoop can get his kids to pass the big test at the end of the session, something that Gills does not believe will happen.

When the kids present another list of demands to get them to study even harder, Shoop quits, and Gills has to bring in a substitute. This results in the best scene of the movie, but we don't want to give too much away.

But it involves an angry math teacher.
Realizing that they are even worse off without Shoop, the class hunts him down and begs him to return. Will he? Will the class pass the test? Will Rhonda's pregnancy come into play somehow? Will Jerome ever come back from the bathroom?

You'll have to wait and see.

Derek did not like this movie at all. Aside from not being able to picture Mark Harmon as anything other than Ted Bundy, he also thinks that this should have been a serious movie. These students are a collection of serious issues and have some real problems with their home lives. Except for Pam, who has no home and totally want to bang her teacher. What the hell?!

Jake liked the movie. He thinks this is largely because of its heavy rotation during the early years of HBO. One point he does make, though, is that the special effects used when the kids meet Mr. Shoop's replacement are fantastic. Professional, even. It points toward a potential career for Chainsaw, if the alcoholism doesn't kill him first.

Larry refuses to admit that this film is anything less than stellar. He loves it, and even owns it on DVD! He, too, was really impressed with the effects in the replacement scene, and this leads to a lot of speculation about what goes on later in both Chainsaw's and Dave's lives. There is suspicion that at least one of them made some money, while the other sells weed to teenagers.

So put down those books and listen to this week's episode!