Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Summer Job (1989)

Directed by Paul Madden
Starring Sherrie Rose, Amy Lynn Baxter, Renee Shugart, Chantal
Rated R
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"Are those crushed nuts?"
"I'm afraid so."

Some of the 80's sex-coms are so evocative that they actually make me feel wistful, nostalgic, even, for those heady days of mall-culture and flash metal, when I still a sturdy young lad with a cool haircut and a closet full of sleeveless t-shirts. The good ones remind you, if you were there then, of the infinite possibilities of youth. The bad ones, on the other hand, actually make you appreciate your distance from that dull, empty-headed decade. Summer Job is one of those.

The story - if we may call a barely-sketched situation a story - revolves around stringy-haired Kathy (corpse-stiff Sherrie Rose, After School, Spring Fever USA), who has just scored a dream summer job managing a group of college-age misfits at a high-end beach resort. Her charges include a bronzed surfer dude with a majestic mullet named Bob (Dave Clouse), boy-crazy blonde Susan (Amy Lynn Baxter), obnoxious Texan cowboy Jack (James Summer), geeky virgin Herman (George O), chubby zilch Bruce (Fred Bourdin, wearing a fake, ill-fitting beer belly), bubble-headed Karen (Renee Shugart), who tells the group, at their initial meeting, that she's going for her master's degree in 'Hunkology', Barbara ( the singularly named Chantal), a severe-looking, proto-Paris Hilton rich-bitch, Donna, (Cari Mayor), a pint-sized surfer girl, and finally Tom (Kirt Earhardt), the wiseguy.

If that sounds like too many characters for one dopey comedy, it is. Although they are all ostensibly leads, most of them have little to do accept sorta hang around and pull reaction faces whenever Barbara says something snotty. In fact I'm pretty sure Mayor, Baxter, and Shuggart are in the film solely because they agreed to take their tops off, since they are required to do so in nearly every scene that they're in. Aside from the pleasingly frequent booby-flashing, however, Summer Job is deathly dull, a dead-zone of groan-worthy non-comedy. For example, there's a curious recurring gag where the cook (Sherry Reichart, who has a smashed-in Mickey Rourke face) hovers over food with a knife, slashing the air, but avoiding the actual food. If anybody cones close to her, she hits them with whatever she's supposed to be cooking, usually a chicken. It looks more like a psychotic reaction than a joke, and it's repeated several times.

Honestly, it's days like these that make me wish I finished college. Summer Job's lowest ebb occurs during an evening-out scene. Amy Lynn Baxter is sitting there at dinner with some snooty fucker. The waiter comes by and asks for their order. She says she wants crab. The waiter informs her that they're out.
"Oh, no," she sulks, "I really wanted the crabs."
Mr. Fancypants lifts an eyebrow. "I can arrange that!" He says. And then he scratches his balls.

If there is any plot at all, it's about the rivalry between stuck-up Barbara and uptight Kathy. It all comes to a head when Barbara sneaks into Kathy's bathroom and pours purple dye into her bottle of bubble bath. Later on at the bar, Kathy shows up in a tracksuit and explains to everyone that she's been sabotaged, and now she's stained purple from the neck down. Tom listens to her explanation and then says: "My god, what happened to you?" You understand, she just fucking told him what happened. It's as if Mr, Earnhardt forgot to say his line at the beginning, so he just threw it in afterwards. This movie is positively riddled with sad little moments like this. It's like an unraveling sweater, or something. So, after she tells her tale of woe, the unsteady flurry of stillborn purple dye jokes come tumbling out:
"Haha, the purple pumpernickel!"
"I'll pump her nickel anytime, haha!"
I'll pump her nickel?
Anyway, she gets her back by putting dye in Barb's shampoo and making her work in the kitchen, where she tries to cook a rubber chicken.

There really is nothing else of consequence to report, except that at one point, the grabby middle-aged bartender that everybody hates (Jim Pelish) gets his comeuppance when he's bronskied by 400 pound burlesque legend Fannie Annie. Oh, and there's a "mystery woman" (Kathleen Neu) that Herman's been stalking the entire film. He finally gets up the gumption to talk to her. Turns out she's a hooker with some sort of bizarre Brooklyn-meets-Olive Oil accent:
"Youse don't get it, do ya?" She says. I'm a woiking goil!"

It ends, like all summer movies - and perhaps, if you are the lucky sort, like all summers - with a dance on the beach, where all the lonely hearts are finally matched up and all hard feelings are buried in the sand. Herman, now a full-blown man after an adventure out whoring with the fellas, manages to snag that garishly dressed snot Barbara. Cookie shanghais golden boy Bob. Amy Lynn seduces creaky old Mr. Burns (Hilly Gordon), the guy who owns the joint, who says "Hummina hummina hummina". The fat kid is suddenly skinny - in a day - and has sex with Kathy in a sleeping bag. Oh, and white-suited ELO offshoot band Orkestra plays an interminable song about being there for you, even in the darkness of night.

Summer Job is horrible, and not surprisingly, the acting bug died for most of the cast shortly thereafter. Amy Lynn Baxter was, briefly, a B-movie it-girl, thanks mostly to frequent appearances on the Howard Stern radio show. She supplemented her income with feature-dancing tours, which she is probably still doing, even as we speak.

Sherrie Rose apparently got over her bad acting spell, because she's done steady work in television and b-movies ever since this appearance. I mean, you couldn't be a bad actress and appear in Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, could you?

Availability: Summer Job is not currently available, unless you can snag a torrent or a dusty, out-of-print VHS copy. But my guess is you can live pretty happily without it.
If you must: Amazon has it.
-Ken McIntyre


  1. Cute review. Anyone know where i can find a torrent for this movie? I cant find it on google for the life of me.

  2. "Later on at the bar, Kathy shows up in a tracksuit and explains to everyone that she's been sabotaged, and now she's stained purple from the neck down. Tom listens to her explanation and then says: 'My god, what happened to you?'"

    He was not listening to her. He wasn't paying attention and noticed her after she had told the other people at the table what happened.

    This is but one of numerous places where you purposely exaggerate or ignore the smaller details of a scene in order, it seems, to get a rise out of slagging it. Making fun of this movie is like taunting a two-year-old for not being able to tie his shoes.

    "Summer Job" was a lot more fun than reading your arrogant review, which is dumb and mean-spirited. Then again, what do you expect from someone who can't tell the difference between "except" and "accept."

  3. Hey man.
    Clearly, that was a typo. Surely you know that, and you're just - that's right -exaggerating to get a rise.

    Otherwise, your opinion is just as valid as mine. So...okey-doke.

    Keep slayin' those emos!



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