• At any time of the day, a good movie with popcorn or beer is a welcome pleasure.

    Staten Island Summer (2015): Movie Review

    “Mildly dull but largely enjoyable summer-to-college march to adulthood.” 

    In case you don’t know, “Staten Island is like Brooklyn and New Jersey had a baby.” With these forewords, Staten Island Summer begins telling a young man’s final crazy summer adventure in a bikini-filled private resort before he embarks his way to adulthood. This coming-of-age sexy comedy is written and directed by comedy veterans Colin Jost and Rhys Thomas, respectively.

    Danny Campbell (Graham Phillips) narrates how he spent his last few remaining days of summer in Staten Island before he went to Harvard for college. Working as lifeguard at the Great Kills Swim Club, he is surrounded by a pretty mix of company – beautiful tomboy Mary Ellen (Cecily Strong), big-guy stoner Skootch (Bobby Moynihan), hornet-buster Victor (Fred Armisen), Navy-bound muscle-man Anthony (John DeLuca), and boss of the pools Chuck (Mike O’Brien). His best friend, Frank (Zack Pearlman), is still figuring out his future. One thing for sure, these two buddies want to lose the big V before they part ways.

    For Danny, there is only one girl he wishes to make out with – the dashing and gorgeous Krystal Manicucci (Ashley Greene), daughter of local mob boss Leo (Vincent Pastore) and Danny’s babysitter at third grade. Cancelling his Disney World vacation with his father (Jim Gaffigan) and mother (Kate Walsh), Danny plans a pool party in the hopes of striking romantically with Krystal. Despite many trials, Danny manages to unite the staff, get rid of Chuck and launch one grand cool party. 

    Staten Island Summer provides a generally pleasant viewing experience. It is derivative of the American Pie series where horny teenagers are out for the best sexcapade ever. But the present film is American Pie minus sex as it is deprived of very explicit scenes or images, except for the sneaky quickie between Frank and a twin. Such material is depicted through titillating scenes like men freezing and exploding while Krystal takes off her short to take a dip, and young Danny having a steamy ride with his horse toy. These sexy detours are enough to make up for the film’s overall boring atmosphere and pacing. Other notable comedic moments in the film are Frank’s search for weeds and ex-biker’s visit to Danny’s home.

    The movie also has a very dynamic cast, loaded with tireless energy and easy chemistry. Their camaraderie is obvious, surrounding the main protagonist with affecting laughter and good vibes. From his merry family to his fun-seeking colleagues and to the vibrant guests, Danny swims in a sea of personalities and challenges that prepares him for the adult life ahead. In fact, such supporting characters are mostly more interesting than Danny who appears to be too dull in a presumably comedic film. Yet, other than providing the much-needed humor, they actually do not do much more than just be there.

    Innocent-faced Phillips fits the sincere and loving Danny. His light and clever ways provides clarity and focus in all the noise and ruckus. Yet, his flatness just does not match the image the movie tries to build around the figure. As much as Phillips is likable, Pearlman is totally annoying and unfunny as Frank. It is quite unthinkable how such different personas become the best of friends. Others actors, despite short screen time, are able to deliver the laughs the two leads fail to bring.

    Staten Island Summer is a popcorn movie. It does not have the makings of a comedy masterpiece or a cult classic. Still, it is functional and passable with its few great moments and easy ambience.


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