|“Ping Pong Summer” is a coming-of-age tale set in 1985. Like a full-on comedic version of “The Way Way Back” (2013), except quirkier and way less funny. This film tried to survive solely on the cultural jokes of the ‘80s, and what seems like a very funny set-up, quickly becomes a 29-year-old stale joke and there’s nothing else to make the film fresh or funny. || ||2014 |
Directed by: Michael Tully
Screenplay by: Michael Tully
Starring: Marcello Conte, Susan Sarandon
Bradford Miracle (Marcello Conte), known as Rad Miracle (trust me, this is just the tip of the iceberg of ridiculous naming) is an outcast. He likes wearing his parachute pants, playing ping pong and practicing beat-boxing. Parachute pants aren’t particularly cool in his part of the world, ping pong isn’t all that cool either, and he isn’t good at it, and beat-boxing isn’t all that cool either, and he isn’t good at that either. He also sucks at making friends.
|Images courtesy of Gravitas Ventures.|
When Teddy Fryy tries to become his friend, noting their similar away-from-cool interests, Rad is just a jerk. He then falls for a girl named Stacy Summers because she’s extremely strung out on sugar (the concoction she likes drinking – every sugar candy mixed together, is pretty damn funny). Her eyes can’t focus on anything, and he thinks this makes her hot. So he accuses her of snorting cocaine. That was about the time I gave up trying to follow these “teenagers”.
The adult cast was very good, and very underused. Lea Thompson plays Rad’s mother, Mrs. Miracle, and her role in the movie is to allow Back to the Future (1985) jokes to be funnier. John Hannah plays Rad’s father, Mr. Miracle, and he hardly has a role. 30 Rock alum Judah Friedlander plays a convenience store clerk and he has a funny line, and that’s about it. Susan Sarandon as the ultra-strange next-door-neighbor Randi Jammer has a slightly bigger, funnier role, but they upped the quirky quotient as far as they could take it with her.
“Ping Pong Summer” did a great job recreating 1985, even the cultural jokes are good, except that’s all there is. The funny premise becomes very tiring very quickly and there’s not enough value to these characters to make it stand on its own as a coming-of-age tale. Stylistically, instead of going for bright colors, the film has a very washed-out look and feel trying to make it look like the film was made in the 80s rather than just set in the 80s. I think it was a poor choice because the 80s were supposed to be bright and fun, and this wasn’t really either.