Summer of the 80s is a weekly column that will run until the end of August in which I watch a movie released during the summer movie season of the 1980s that I’ve never seen before. Every Friday, I’ll write about an 80s movie that came out on the same day, or near the same day, that correlates with the post here on the site. So follow me as I travel back in time to discover my lost summer at the movies.
About the movie
One Crazy Summer was released on August 8, 1986 by Warner Bros. It was written and directed by Savage Steve Holland (Better Off Dead, How I Got Into College). The film stars John Cusack, Demi Moore, Bobcat Goldthwait, Joel Murray and Linda Warren. This PG-rated film’s production budget is unknown but it earned $3.4 million in its opening weekend before going onto gross $13.4 million domestically. It is currently only available on DVD.
They’re out of school, out on Nantucket, and out of their minds. With this crowd, anything can happen!
One Crazy Summer is a generic 80s story told through absolute absurdity. That’s not a knock on the film mind you, the movie is made watchable by the very fact that things randomly happen or situations get cartoonishly heightened for no apparent reason. The movie even starts off with the Warner Bros. symbol being morphed into an animated segment about a rhino looking for love. The animated segment ends in the rhino shooting up a bunch of bunnies with an automatic gun. This then transitions to Hoops McCann (John Cusack) as he’s creating the cartoon. The cartoon that Hoops is drawing serves as his (symbolic) journey as he searches for a girl to fall in love with. This is the set-up for the whole film and once Hoops meets Cassandra (Demi Moore) the plot kicks into.. what’s the opposite of overdrive?
The romance between Hoops and Cassandra isn’t really the main draw of the movie due to the thinly written characters. If you’re watching One Crazy Summer, it’s for the quirky humor of writer/director Savage Steve Holland. For instance, in the first couple minutes of the film, we see Hoops’ cat jump down off a desk to walk into its litter box. One wouldn’t think anything of this except the lid to the litter box is covered with stuffed and mounted animals that the cat has apparently killed. The question is, who put those hunting trophies there, Hoops or the cat? After seeing everything that happens in this film, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the cat.
There are a lot of really weird, random, yet funny things that happen all throughout the film. The little sister of Hoops’ best friend looks like an innocent young girl but if you talk shit about her dog (which has hair missing on parts of its body, a plastic cone around its head and random bandages on it), she comes at you with a vengeance. Two bully girls make fun of her dog while making faces only to be told by an adult that if they don’t stop making fun of the girl and her dog someone will hit them on their backs while they’re making faces and will get those mocking faces stuck that way. Sure enough, the girls make fun of the dog again and the little sister comes up behind the two bullies and smack them on their backs, making their faces forever stuck with the ugly looks they gave it. These two newly deformed girls are actually used to comedic effect a couple times in the movie and their faces are kept that way through the use of prosthetics.
My favorite part of the whole film lies in the performance of one of the supporting cast members, Bobcat Goldthwait. He is insanely weird in the film often spouting out weird sounds instead of words, all in his trademark voice. He contorts his face randomly as he makes sounds and words and it is absolutely hilarious to watch. His character is a bit dimwitted and at one point gets stuck inside a Godzilla costume and runs amok with it on, even having a sequence where he crushes a model town in front of a Japanese man. The douche bag rich kid, aka the villain of the movie, also stood out to me and had a couple of really funny scenes.
One Crazy Summer marks my first exposure to Savage Steve Holland’s work (funnily enough, in two or three weeks, I believe I will be diving into another one of his films for this column). After watching the movie, I’m starting to see why people seem pretty enthusiastic about his movies, of which there aren’t many. There’s plenty to laugh at in One Crazy Summer, from Joel Murray’s multiple run-ins with a chili-loving fat man (with some really bad gas) to Demi Moore’s god-awful wardrobe. The movie really does feel rather shallow in terms of characters and story but sometimes that can be surpassed by a film’s personality, which One Crazy Summer has in spades.
The name Hoops McCann was taken from a character in the 1980 Steely Dan song, Glamour Profession.
When Calamari picks up two women at the dance, the strawberry blonde on the right is director Savage Steve Holland’s sister, whose childhood nickname was Squid and is the basis for the little girl in the film (also named Squid).
Savage Steve Holland did the animated sequences for the film. Two bunnies that get blown up at the end of the movie bear a strong, and not accidental, resemblance to Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, who panned his earlier film, Better Off Dead.
by Ben McBride