DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Summer School

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Scott Kimball, Jun 7, 2004.

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  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]

    Summer School



    Studio: Paramount

    Year: 1987

    Rated: PG-13

    Length: 97 minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

    Audio: English Restored Mono, English Dolby Digital 5.1 remix, French Mono

    English subtitles

    Special Features: none

    S.R.P. $14.99


    Release Date: June 1, 2004




    I’m a fan of Carl Reiner’s early work. His comedy routines with Mel Brooks are unparalleled. And, The Dick Van Dyke Show is my favorite TV sitcom of all time. Then, although it wasn’t his first film, Reiner’s respectability in the motion picture arena really took off with 1977’s Oh, God!

    1979 saw the first of his collaborations with Steve Martin. These collaborative efforts would include The Jerk, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, The Man with Two Brains and All of Me.

    Unfortunately, All of Me (1984) was the last Carl Reiner film which I really enjoyed. After that, his films became stale retreads of many comedy genre films which preceded them. Reiner tried to change with the times when, ironically, his old-fashioned style is what made him entertaining.

    Summer School (1987) is a few years past Reiner’s prime. Here, he presents us with his first teen comedy. Mark Harmon is Mr. Shoop, a gym teacher turned summer school remedial english teacher against his will, in order to teach a bunch of ne’er-do well kids enough to pass an english test. It’s a by-the-numbers comedy with a respectable performance from Harmon. Kirstie Alley is his “love interest” in a love story that isn’t interesting. Then there are the kids. This is, after all, a teen comedy.

    The kids are all cast from caricature molds, and none of them do anything unexpected. Fast Times this is not. Comedy relief is provided by two class clowns, Chainsaw and Dave - two film fanatics who think The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the best thing that ever happened to celluloid. The two are constantly comparing the world around them with their favorite horror films, and rating events around them with a thumbs up or thumbs down. It was funny the first and second time...

    Of course, in the end, the teacher learns something about himself, and the kids learn a little bit of english. And, the viewer has spent 97 minutes witnessing these events - so he can promptly forget them. This isn’t the type of film that makes a lasting impression.

    Summer School isn’t a bad film, but it offers nothing new in the teen-comedy arena. We have so many cookie cutter characters in the students - the jock, the nerd, the class clown, etc. Then we have the by-the-numbers love story subplot which plays out according to the formula playbook.

    Nobody forgets Fast Times at Ridgemont High, or even American Pie. Those films stick with you, for good or bad. Summer School takes no risks, and is ultimately forgettable.


    Video

    Summer School is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and it is enhanced for widescreen televisions.

    The most notable feature of the image is the moderate amount of grain, visible throughout the film - but more pronounced in some scenes, especially darker ones. This, in conjunction with high contrast and strong saturation give the film a somewhat “harsh” appearance.

    The transfer features strong black levels with fair to good detail in the shadows. The image is sharp, with no noticeable edge enhancement - and the print is fairly clean, with only an occasional speck of dust.


    Audio

    The restored mono track has good frequency range with no hiss. The 5.1 track improves bass response considerably, and opens up the music across the front soundstage. The mix is front-heavy, offering up only some ambient noise in the rear channels. The remix presents a slightly “hollow” sound to dialog at times, but the improved bass response in the music may cause some to prefer this track over the mono track. I give the mono track a slight edge in fidelity.


    Special Features

    There are no special features.


    Final Thoughts
    Paramount delivers an adequate transfer of a formula teen comedy in this release of Summer School on DVD.
     
  2. Xenia Stathakopoulou

    Xenia Stathakopoulou Cinematographer

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    Good review Scott, nice to hear the mono track sounds good too. Cant wait to recieve my disc !
     
  3. Jeremy Allin

    Jeremy Allin Supporting Actor

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    I agree the restored mono track does feature slightly better fidelity in the case of dialogue.
     
  4. MikeEckman

    MikeEckman Screenwriter

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    Why does everyone keep calling the mono track a "restored mono" track? It even says this on the back of the box, yet I can't find what was "restored" about it? Is this one of those where the previous releases had altered music, ala Breakfast Club? Why is it called restored?

    As for what its worth, I realize this isn't a great film by any means, however I liked this movie a lot as a kid and its nice to be able to own a proper version, and for $9.99 it was worth it.
     
  5. MikeEckman

    MikeEckman Screenwriter

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    Why does everyone keep calling the mono track a "restored mono" track? It even says this on the back of the box, yet I can't find what was "restored" about it? Is this one of those where the previous releases had altered music, ala Breakfast Club? Why is it called restored?

    As for what its worth, I realize this isn't a great film by any means, however I liked this movie a lot as a kid and its nice to be able to own a proper version, and for $9.99 it was worth it.
     
  6. Lyle_JP

    Lyle_JP Screenwriter

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    I'm sure by "restored" they just mean digitally cleaned up (noise reduction, etc.).

    -Lyle J.P.
     
  7. Lyle_JP

    Lyle_JP Screenwriter

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    I'm sure by "restored" they just mean digitally cleaned up (noise reduction, etc.).

    -Lyle J.P.
     
  8. Paul Sandhu

    Paul Sandhu Supporting Actor

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    I just watched this on TV a few days ago. I remember watching it when I was a few years old (mainly because of that gruesome scene). Maybe I'll give it a rent to see if there is anything here thats not in the TV versions.
     
  9. MikeEckman

    MikeEckman Screenwriter

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    Perhaps, but aren't most DVD soundtracks cleaned up when theyre coded to Dolby Digital, regardless if theyre mono, 2.0, 5.1, etc? I just am not used to seeing the word "restored" on the listing of soundtracks, unless something was actually changed.
     

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