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  • 16:9 Enhanced
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One Crazy Summer

Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 93 mins . M15+ . NTSC


OK, so when most people think of ’80s teen films the name John Hughes comes straight to mind, but for some of us another name is synonymous with the decade – Savage Steve Holland. Creating possibly the greatest example of the genre in Better Off Dead, a landmark in silliness that puts Ferris Bueller to shame, he soon followed it up with One Crazy Summer. Despite featuring the same star – a young, but very capable, John Cusack – it just didn’t fire quite as well. Holland made one more cinematic outing with 1989’s How I Got Into College, which certainly had its moments, and then vamoosed off into a world of obscure television programmes, of which probably the best known is Eek! the Cat.

Our tale centres around one man, the hydrophobic budding cartoonist ‘Hoops’ McCann (Cusack) – a rather ironic moniker as his prowess with a basketball, or any object that can be thrown for that matter, is remarkably nonexistent. He’s just graduated from New York’s Generic High School, so it’s off to that home of bawdy limericks Nantucket for the summer – one crazy summer, of course!

Along the way more bizarre folk are encountered than you’d find in your average John Waters flick– the Stork twins Egg and Clay, Ack Ack Raymond – the pacifistic son of a war-mad scout leader, a mad Uncle hell-bent on winning a million dollar radio contest at all costs, proto-slut Cookie and her boyfriend, Mr Cro-Magnon Teen himself Ted Beckerstead (which rhymes with...), who is the son of property developer Aquilla Beckerstead, who is in turn the son of the guy with the actual money, Old Man Beckerstead - who trundles around benignly in a wheelchair with cigar permanently affixed, doing quite a stunning George Burns impersonation. Amongst these freaks of the week one beacon of vague normality is encountered, in hippie chick singer Cassandra (Demi Moore).

She’s off to Nantucket for reasons other than partying, for the demise of her Grandfather has seen his house – a haven for many who would otherwise be homeless – left to the mercy of the bank, and more importantly Beckerstead, who wants to demolish the property in order to erect a new lobster restaurant. Cassandra has one week to somehow raise the $3000 needed to pay back rent, and after a few unforeseen setbacks a plan is hatched – they’ll win the annual regatta! Ah, but remember Hoops’ little problem with water?

While often sharing the mind-numbingly wonderful out-there vibe of Better Off Dead, something just doesn’t quite gel as well in One Crazy Summer. It’s an enjoyable enough romp with a cast who were clearly having a ball, including Bill Murray’s brother Joel (who seems to have studied exclusively at the Thurston Howell III school of acting) as well as the likes of nutballs Curtis Armstrong and Bobcat Goldthwait as well as all manner of folk you’ve seen here and there in pretty much every teen film or somewhat B-grade comedy ever since. Complete with some fabulous low-budget animation – a trademark of Mr Holland – if you have a soft spot for those garish days of the late ‘80s, and like a touch of silly comedy with lots of falling down and exploding, then you just may find One Crazy Summer is your kettle of lobster.


It’s rather obvious by now that Warner have no plans of changing their habit of releasing NTSC discs in region 4, so it seems pointless harping on about it. After all, it’s better NTSC (for those of us whose gear supports it) than nothing at all.

To the transfer at hand, we’re given a 1.78:1, 16:9 enhanced experience, which is only marginally different to the cinematic ratio One Crazy Summer was released in, which was 1.85:1. For a little film that harks from the mid-‘80s the transfer comes as quite a revelation. Appearing to either have been struck from a remarkably unused print, or to have had some remastering work done, colour is quite glorious with nice chunky blacks, while detail is better than we generally get from such releases. This isn’t to say it’s perfect – there are frequent examples of grain, the odd white speck or three and even the occasional big globby mark – however in all most who have fond memories of this second Savage Steve Holland filmic outing should be well pleased with what’s on offer.


While the video seems to have been given some attention, unfortunately the same cannot be said for the audio. A rather feeble Dolby Digital mono mix is all that’s offered up, and it’s most certainly not great. Hiss is oft times evident; as is distortion when anything resembling music comes pumping out, with dialogue often suffering a tad at the hands of a decidedly mediocre soundtrack. Oh for a remaster…

Meanwhile, the remarkably dated score comes from one Cory Lerios and it can be summed up in one word, “cheesy”. It’s supplemented by not the greatest selection of ‘80s tunes imaginable - for every Eurythmics there’s a Twisted Sister, ZZ Top or David Lee Roth – with a few choice older tracks from the likes of Steppenwolf (guess, you’ll be right), Credence and more Beach Boys ditties than you could stuff into your average Kombi.


With such budget back catalogue releases we’re quite accustomed to zippo in the extras department, so tripping over a commentary was indeed a delightful surprise. Recorded quite recently, the enigmatic Savage Steve fronts the mike along with Curtis ‘Booger’ Armstrong and Bobcat Goldthwait (mercifully without the nails-down-a-blackboard voice). The threesome delivers an entertaining commentary, going off tangent more often than Joan Rivers has facelifts, but in amongst the chaos there’s quite a bit of decent trivia and information for fans.

Other than that pickings are slim, with some brief biographies (featuring stupid abbreviated filmographies) and a theatrical trailer, the latter of which scrubs up quite nicely, and is a fun piece of history as rather than just featuring clips from the film it has a typically shell-shocked Bobcat talking nonsense as he does so well.


While the video’s pretty good, it sounds like a sum total of about two dollars was spent on the audio… But with the addition of a commentary, any fan of Savage Steve Holland – and believe me we’re out there (read into that what you wish) – will have a hard time passing this by.

Anyway, I’d better say “see you later” before the Cute and Fuzzy Bunnies catch up with me... AGH!!!

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2655
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      And I quote...
    "The video’s pretty good, but it sounds like a sum total of about two dollars was spent on the audio…"
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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