Best Summer Ever – Film Review

A high school football player named Tony Michaels (Rickey Alexander Wilson) is shocked to discover that the new girl in school, Sage (Shannon DeVido) is the same girl he fell in love with at a summer dance camp.

There are few things in life that are able to cheer me up as much as a remarkably strong, feel-good musical. One of the biggest comfort movies for me is easily Damien Chazelle’s La La Land. Not only is that a film brimming with incredible, catchy, and wonderfully written songs, but it also serves as an infectiously joyous and emotional story of two lovers chasing their big ambitions and dreams.

There’s plenty of musicals out there that I cherish and hold near and dear to my heart, and even musicals that I don’t love, I still appreciate them. Writing a song for a musical and doing the choreography would be incredibly hard work and films make it look so easy.

And although Michael Parks Randa and Lauren Smitelli’s Best Summer Ever has some excellent choreography and exceptionally fun songs to listen to and tap your feet along to but, as a story, this just didn’t work for me. There are some entertaining ideas on display here for sure, but overall, this just felt primarily like a Disney Channel original movie instead of a full-on professional production.

Courtesy of Freestyle Digital Media

Don’t get me wrong, indie musicals can be a blast to watch, but there is a difficult-to-describe quality about this film that just feels a bit phony. It feels like the filmmakers tried too hard to make this a hilarious, slapstick musical comedy when in reality, it would have worked so much better had the story taken itself a bit more seriously. I can only think of maybe two or three scenes that didn’t have comedy elements integrated into them in one way or another.

Something that I genuinely loved about Best Summer Ever though is how inclusive it is with a cast primarily made up of disabled actors. Honestly stop and think about this – when was the last time you watched a film that featured disabled actors front and center?

You probably can’t think of any, and sadly, it’s because these talented people don’t get a lot of work in films like this. So I really have to give a ton of praise to the casting team on this film for giving so many opportunities to disabled actors. They aren’t heard or seen enough, and we can only hope that we will see more disabled representation in the near future.

At the end of the day, Best Summer Ever is not a film that you’ll find yourself annoyed with or wanting to turn off. It’s just a disappointingly safe and unmemorable musical in the grand scheme of things. Sure, it’s got some fun songs to listen to and the choreography is great, but everything else never rises above mediocrity.

Overall Grade: C

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Cast: Shannon DeVido, Rickey Alexander Wilson, Madeline Rhodes, Jacob Waltuck, Emily Kranking, Ajani A.J. Murray, Eileen Grubba, Holly Palmer, Bradford Haynes

Directed by: Michael Parks Randa, Lauren Smitelli

Written by: Will Halby, Terra Mackintosh, Michael Parks Randa, Andrew Pilkington, Lauren Smitelli

Distributed by: Freestyle Digital Media

Release Date: April 27, 2021

Running Time: 72 minutes

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