One Crazy Summer was a film ahead of its time. But not too ahead, as comedy can be a very insular thing. Well, let’s put it this way. Savage Steve Holland came the closest to the Frank Tashlin mode in an era dominated by Hughes and Spielberg. Was there a window for this movie to be mainstream? Kinda, but it too passed. Come learn about the glory that you young tykes missed.
John Cusack now spends his time on Twitter promoting politics and seemingly the One Crazy Summer days are far behind him. However, I enjoyed Cusack working with Holland. Whether it’s Better Off Dead or One Crazy Summer, it was a great pairing of talent that felt less whiny than the Hughes movies. Many critics in 1986 got hung up on the plot details, as the movie is very basic. But, when is that not true of many teen oriented movies?
80s comedies are a dime a dozen. Mainly because the TikTok generation can’t figure out if they are offended by them or love joking on them. Either way it goes, I have a hard time taking anyone serious that can’t remember things before 2016. While One Crazy Summer doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it brings the delight of animation into what was becoming a tired subgenre.
Bobcat Goldthwait was the reason I watched One Crazy Summer as a kid. I was too young to get anything out of the Cusack / Moore story. Growing up as a Police Academy fan, I would play the usual Bobcat movies on a loop. While that dates me, it speaks to a certain fanbase that was diving into film at a certain time. Even with that, Bobcat was the backup support to Armstrong, Moore and Cusack. The cast revolves and different people take focus at certain times.
Hell, Joel Murray kind of loses importance for a chunk of the second act as we meet the Stork Twins and Ack Ack. One Crazy Summer spends a little bit of the first act making you believe that Squid and the dog are going to be a bigger deal. But, it’s world building for a New England fantasy unlike anything you’ve seen.
Comedy always hits different segments of the viewership. After all, there are people out there that turned Big Momma’s House into a franchise. So, what is it about films that lead into cartoonish wackiness that great treated like they have the plague? Tashlin faced blow-up in the 50s and 60s over his approach and Holland never rose above cult status with his comedies. So, why the resistance?
I believe a lot of it has to do with how people are instructed to take jokes in the West. Our British friends observe and guffaw at setups they can identify the humor at play. American viewers have been indoctrinated by sitcoms for so long that wait for the gag or for the canned laughter to highlight it. There’s an interesting psychological history to humor triggers that I’d loved to see studied. I’m kinda shocked it hasn’t happened yet.
Warner Archive brings One Crazy Summer to Blu-ray with a feature length audio commentary and a trailer. The commentary is worth the price of admission alone. Getting to hear Curtis Armstrong, Bobcat Goldthwait and Savage Steve Holland talk about the movie hit all of those pleasure centers. The A/V Quality is quite sharp for a 35 year old film. There is a bit of dirt on the transfer, but it rings true to the era. I’d recommend a purchase.