It’s a well-known fact that school related teen comedies ruled the 80’s. The genre became so prevalent in that decade that many became lost in the mix. One often overlooked/forgotten classic, and one of my favorites still to this day, is 1987’s Summer School starring Mark Harmon.
If you’re reading this you’re probably saying to yourself “I’ve never even heard of that movie!” and that is perfectly alright!
I happened to discover it in the early 90’s while channel surfing at home one afternoon. I stopped on the channel simply because I recognized Kirstie Alley and wondered “what movie is this?” I missed almost the entire first half hour, but I really enjoyed what I did see. I went to the video store soon after to rent it for real so that I could watch the whole thing.
Summer School very quickly became one of my favorite comedies and one of my most beloved 80’s movies!
The movie is about a slacker high school gym teacher that wants nothing more than for school to be over so he can go chill on the beach for three straight months. On the last day of school, he gets cornered by the “evil” assistant principal and conned into teaching summer school. A job no other teacher wants because the class is full of delinquents that no one can help! While trying to balance his newfound teaching duties, he desperately tries to get a fellow teacher he has a crush on (Kirstie Alley) to notice him and fall in love with him. Eventually, he finds a way to connect with the students and actually manages to teach them a few things!
Summer School was directed by Carl Reiner, director of the comedy classic The Jerk, and I feel it is easily his second best movie behind The Jerk. Both are hilarious, but in vastly different ways.
Summer School is a fun and funny (two different things) light-hearted story that is a refresher from other heavy subject matter based 80’s teen films. It is also smart enough to be kind of dumb, instead of being straight-up dumb dumb like so many others were/are.
Two characters, Chainsaw and Dave, manage to steal the entire movie by being such lovable, horror movie obsessed morons. They were always my favorite part whenever I would watch it growing up and they remain so with each viewing today. Together they have some of the best on-screen moments and most certainly some of the best lines in the film. It was always a wish of mine that they somehow make a sequel featuring those two in more prominent roles, but that never happened!
Check it out for yourself; I think you’ll like it!
Summer School has a runtime of 97 minutes and is rated PG-13 for language and a scene of teen drinking.