Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Mark Harmon, Kirstie Alley
Director: Carl Reiner
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Mono, French Dolby Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: None
Length: 97 Minutes
Release Date: June 1, 2004

“You’ll be teaching remedial English?”

“English? I ain’t no English teacher. See—double negative.”

Film ***

I’m sure I’d be lying if I said we all liked hearing the words summer and school in the same sentence. It represented, for me at least, the kind of disease one always wanted to avoid contracting at any costs. Ten months of school was always enough for me, and the summer is the time period to lay back and kick it.

In the opening moments of Summer School, a group of high school students are summoned to a personal meeting with the vice principal on the last day of school. They are then informed that they failed an important English exam that must be passed and that they will have to re-take the test by enrolling in Summer School. Each of they students reactions’ resembles the kind I would’ve had if I was in their shoes.

But the students aren’t the only ones being forced into this position. When staff availability is severely low, the vice principal turns to an act of blackmail, by telling gym teacher Freddy Shoop (Mark Harmon) that he will teach the course if he still wants a job, as well as his tenure approved. Freddy is stunned by the act of force, since he was about to endure a summer of fun with his girlfriend in Hawaii. Nonetheless, the now hapless Shoop finds himself tending to a rag tag group of underachievers whose minds seem not that far from unmoldable.

Summer School is not to be taken seriously, like any comedy from the mid 80s, but that’s not to say that the zaniness can’t be the least bit enjoyable. At no other point in the movie is the proof of this notion more valid than where Shoop starts taking his class on spontaneous field trips to go cart racing and some beach fun, etc. Another point where the teacher, who eventually buckles down to actually teach his students, begins actually issuing bribes for attending class is crystal proof.

One of the pleasures of DVD is the fact that you get the chance to see a flick you haven’t seen since your own personal hay day of pay-cable, and I remember seeing this movie quite a bit back in the day. Amazingly enough, I forgot many parts of it, and now found it even immensely funny by today’s standards which, for a comedy made in 1987, is really saying something.

Video ***1/2

Paramount’s handling of this flick, with 17 years of age, is pleasantly surprising. The anamorphic picture is incredibly sharp and clear throughout, with no noticeable bits of grain, distortion, or any other image flaws. Colors are quite bright and vibrant as can be, making good use in many of the sunny-based shots in the film. It’s clear that the studio has been doing their absolute best in rendering the quality of their many catalogue titles.

Audio ***

The provided 5.1 mix does the movie well in terms of dialogue delivery and music playback. Periodic background noises will find their way into the mix, and the overall quality is that of a sharp, crisp level of sound without any of the basic aural flaws. Very well executed.

Features (Zero Stars)



While the actuality of summer school my be a big dread for some, the movie Summer School is all around fun, and remains a much enjoyable 80s comedy pic.