Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Staten Island Summer Review

Staten Island Summer Review
When you type Staten Island Summer into your search engine of choice, you will see the poster. The poster is a picture of the crotch region of a woman (sorry, its late and I can't think of the proper term as of right now) and you see to hands pulling down a pair daisy duke jean shorts revealing yellow bikini bottoms. There will be voices in your head telling you exactly the type of movie you think you will be seeing. I am here to tell you that the movie you think you will be seeing is not the movie you are going to get. Sure, "Staten Island Summer" has some sex jokes in it, but its hardly the movie it looks. There is no nudity and nothing that really breaks barriers as far as shock content. There is barely anything in it to call raunchy. I just want to throw that out there if you have come across this movie and you've been thinking about watching it.

Funny, because there is still a particular movie it wants to be...

"Staten Island Summer" is basically a remake of "Superbad." The Seth and Evan duo has been replaced by Danny (Graham Phillips) and Frank (Zack Pearlman). Danny and Frank have been best friends since they were children. Now they are all grown up, and Danny is going to Harvard, while Frank is going to stay home and try to find a job. The friends have worked at the same pool club for as long as they have had jobs, they grew up playing at this particular pool. So the Labor Day weekend, the last weekend before Danny goes off to school, they plan with their co-workers a monster party at the pool club. Why do Danny and Frank want to throw this party so bad? Well, its their last weekend together, and...you guessed it...they have this weird dilemma about sleeping with their crushes on the exact same night. Funny, I never knew this was a thing between best friends growing up. Me and my guy friends never planned to loose our virginity's simultaneously at the exact same party. That just comes off as weird to me. The entire movie is about Danny, Frank and their friends at the pool going about their adventures and misadventures for preparing for the last great pool party of the year.

But much like "Superbad" they learn more about their need for everlasting friendship than they do about anything else. I can tell "Staten Island Summer" wants to be as raunchy and as cool as "Superbad" was, but it gets hung up on this sentimental, "friends forever" fable that ultimately the raunchiness, or really the comedy in general, gets swiftly taken away. Plus, "Staten Island Summer" takes so many ques from "Superbad" that it gets a little frustrating to watch. Would you really be that surprised if I told that Frank, the fat but humorous friend with a potty mouth ends up scoring over the good-looking, sensitive Danny? Because that's exactly what happens. They pretty much telegraph the ending from the very beginning.

So besides the obvious "Superbad" undertones, does anything else work in the movie? Well, I will say that Graham Phillips and Zack Pearlman do outstanding work. I think they do exactly what they were told to do, and they could not have done it any better. I liked the work by Cecil Strong and Johnny DeLuca, who play two of Danny and Franks co-workers. There are some great performances from veteran actors and former SNL players, like Bobby Moynihan, Fred Armisen, Method Man, Gina Gershon, Kate Walsh, Jim Gaffigan and Ashley Greene. The film is well acted and I'd also be lying if I said I didn't laugh. But honestly, with the talent I mentioned, I am little disappointed by how little I laughed. There is just too much mumbo-jumbo about no regrets, and holding on to what you've got that it overwhelms the humor. Sure, "Superbad" did that, but "Superbad" also blended its themes nicely into a funny and sincere movie. "Staten Island Summer" just comes off like its afraid of its convictions.

Despite the harsh words, I did leave with a smile on my face. The acting is really good here, and the material that lands digs deep. That is what ultimately won me over. The idea of spending your young, summer days chasing your crushes, it really kind of makes you feel nostalgic and on that level I kind of liked it. I just wish it wasn't afraid to be its own thing.


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