MOVIE REVIEW | One Crazy Summer (1986)

One Crazy Summer

“Why am I talking to you? You’re not a man, you’re a cat! Go back to your feline world!”

John Cusack was king in the 80s.  And he earned that reign fair and square, with awesome movies like Better Off Dead, Say Anything and Stand By Me.  I always assumed anything starring Cusack in the 80s would be pretty much certified gold.  But it turns out there’s been a real turd out there, laying in wait all these years, to take some of the shine off Cusack.  And that turd, is One Crazy Summer.


After finishing high school and missing out on a basketball scholarship to college, Hoops McCann (Cusack) decides he has nothing better to do, than to travel to Nantucket with his best friend George (Joel Murray) for the summer, to stay with George’s grandmother.  On the way, they save guitar the wielding Cassandra (Demi Moore) from some bikers, and it turns out she’s on her way to Nantucket as well.  Once on the island, Hoops is introduced to George’s childhood friends, including Bobcat Goldthwait as one half of the Stork twins, and Curtis Armstrong as Ack Ack, the pacifist son of an overbearing, militant father.

But the island isn’t all delightful eccentrics.  There’s also the father and son team of Aghuilla (Mark Metcalf) Teddy (Matt Mulhern) Beckersted.  Two privileged snobs looking to build a new housing development.  A housing development that happens to require the home and land of Cassandra’s recently departed grandmother.  What we have here people, is a classic slobs versus snobs situation.  The bread and butter of teen comedy in the late 70s and most of the 80s.

If you’ve never seen this movie and you’re thinking about watching it, here’s something you should probably know about One Crazy Summer before diving it.  It’s basically a live action cartoon.   Specifically a Loony Tunes cartoon.  Just without the great characters, great jokes and glorious anarchy.

To give you an idea of the cartoonishness, and the quality of the jokes, think about this; In the first ten minutes, a graduating student is killed by a falling mortarboard that stabs him in the back, two little girls have their features frozen while pulling hideous faces, and a biker (or maybe he’s a punk, the movie never makes it clear because I don’t think the movie knows the difference) immerges from the ocean with dead fish impaled on his bright purple, spikey hair.

Director Savage Steve Holland and Cusack teamed up a year earlier to make the afore mentioned Better Off Dead.  To me, that’s not just the best John Cusack teen movie of the 80s, it might be the best teen movie of the 80s, full stop.   Maybe tied with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  Anywho, watching One Crazy Summer, I can’t believe this is the movie that came second.  It’s just so full of amateur, first timer mistakes.

Where Better Off Dead built a believable world, then populated it with crazy people whose crazy actions were also believable, One Crazy Summer insists on going for the joke first, then hoping the rest of the world falls in line around it.  It’s the kind of movie that doesn’t just start with jokes, then retroactively bend a story to fit them.  It starts with punchlines, then retroactively bends setups to try to justify those punchlines.  And then, finally, way too late, it half assedly tries to retroactively bend a story to fit those jokes.  I guess what I’m saying is, I can’t think of a single reason for why anyone should ever watch this movie.

One Crazy Summer
Directed By – Savage Steve Holland
Written By – Savage Steve Holland

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