“Best Summer Ever” is a high school musical. It’s not “High School Musical” – it’s better. Tender and exuberant, it includes sets inspired by “Footloose” and “Grease,” and feels closer to those films in spirit than to the Disney Channel. It’s the kind of film that vibrates with the energy of the people who made it, whose enthusiasm radiates from the screen. The actors and filmmakers seemed to have had a great time bringing the “best summer ever” to life. Watching him made me happy.
In the Michael Parks film Randa and Lauren Smitelli (available on request), Tony (Rickey Wilson Jr.) is the star quarterback who privately aspires to be a ballet dancer. Sage (Shannon DeVido) is the daughter of hippie pot dealers whose nomadic lifestyle has made it difficult for her to settle down. Tony and Sage fall in love with each other at summer camp, but when summer ends and Sage ends up at Tony’s school, the young lovers are besieged by the usual fits of teenage movies. – the scheming cheerleader (MuMu), football rival (Jacob Waltuck), and of course the big game, the outcome of which rests heavily on Tony’s reluctant shoulders.
It is all very familiar. What’s new is the cast, which is largely made up of actors with a range of physical and mental disabilities; these handicaps are never noticed, and the handicap does not appear in the plot. The effect of this inclusiveness is a feeling of amazing warmth and camaraderie, at its most compelling during the film’s many original musical numbers, which are staged and shot with gusto. The cast have a wonderful on-screen presence – especially DeVido, whose heroine’s turn in love is magnetic. Representation matters. And in “Best Summer Ever”, it brings the film to life.
Best summer ever
Unclassified. Duration: 1 hour 12 minutes. Rent or buy from Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.