'Tension breaker ... Had to be done'
Today's retro-review: Summer has hit Florida full-force today. So it seems like a good time to review an often-underrated classic -- 1987's Summer School, starring Mark Harmon and Kirstie Alley.
The plot: Mr. Shoop (Harmon, in perhaps his finest hour) is a high school gym teacher who looks forward to summer breaks as much as his students do. But this year, he's forced to teach a remedial English class filled with the school's biggest bone-heads. And so, hilarity ensues. And then, of course, hilarity ends when he finds his class must pass a standardized test or he'll lose his job.
Sound familiar: Picture an entire class of Jeff Spicoli's -- "Slow Minds at Ridgemont High" is how one critic compared it. (Read it)
Maybe you remember: Robin Thomas as Vice Principal Gills, channeling the future genius of Steve Carell. or Ken Olandt as Larry, the kid who can't stay awake because he moonlights as a male stripper.
Surely you can't forget: Dean Cameron in his acting opus as "Chainsaw" and a pre-Melrose Place Courtney Thorne-Smith as "Pam," the surfer chick who lusts after Shoop. And Kirstie Alley, when she was still thin and incredibly hot.
One nasty review: "A comedy so listless, leisurely and unspirited that it was an act of the will for me to care about it" -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times. (Read it)
Why we love it anyway: I'm baffled by the bad reviews. This is Mark Harmon's "Citizen Kane" ... Dean Cameron's "Streetcar Named Desire." And Courtney Thorne-Smith's .... well, it's just her "Summer School." But the top 5 quotes below don't even begin to do this movie justice, since so much of the humor is visual and conversational. And the tunes! Who can forget "Happy" by Oingo Boingo and "Mind Over Matter" by E.G. Daily.
Top 5 lines from Summer School:
5. "This menstruation thing? It's a scam! Women are so lucky."
4. "You want me to lie? Okay."
3. "It's just like you said Gills! We're psychopaths! Somebody better call the school nurse!"
2. "Eeeeeyaaaaaaaaah! ... Tension-breaker. Had to be done."
1. "You can't fail me! I stayed sober for this!"