Summer of the 80’s: One Crazy Summer

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!

My thoughts

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


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8 Comments on “Summer of the 80’s: One Crazy Summer”

  1. Ben McBride August 13, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    I’ll have to check out Moving Violations sometime.

  2. Nobody'sDeadman August 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    And yes, I now realize that there are some grammar errors, but I can’t edit it. Sorry.

  3. Nobody'sDeadman August 13, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    It looks like the hair that you see on infomercials when the guy with the need head of lettuce comes out of the pool with his trophy wife. Completely believeable, by the way.

    Yeah, the Matuszak sighting is epic. I also enjoy the grandmother, Billie Bird. She was awesome in the Police Academy series as the gun-happy “Mrs. Feldman”. She gave Tackleberry a run for her money.

    A quick sidenote…..if you enjoyed “One Crazy Summer”, another gem to check out is “Moving Violations” with Bill and John Murray’s brother, Joel Murray. It’s another bad film, but you would probabyl find some humor in it.

  4. Ben McBride August 13, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    I don’t know. I’m going to say it’s just (real) bad hair haha.

  5. Nobody'sDeadman August 13, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    I can’t figure it out……does Jeremy Piven have hair or is it a weave?

  6. Ben McBride August 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

    I like to keep the Summer of the 80s movies a surprise but that would be a good guess as to what’s coming up. Thanks for pointing out Matuszak’s cameo. I didn’t recognize him but next time I watch the film, I’ll keep an eye out for Sloth himself! I did however see Jeremy Piven but just forgot to mention him in my write-up.

  7. Nobody'sDeadman August 13, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    Ben, I’m assuming that you MAY be taking in, “Better Off Dead” soon, which I enjoyed more than, “One Crazy Summer”. “One Crazy Summer” is a great flick, although, it does have it serious flaws. It’s enjoyablely ridiculous and it does have it’s funny moments. Bobcat does make the film, especially because this was probably during his drug-fueled days before he got sober. I do enjoy the Godzilla scene. I remember seeing this on HBO DOZENS of times during the lat 80’s, usually between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM. I remember when movies like this made you feel cool as a kid, like you were gettting away with something that you shouldn’t be watching. I also enjoyed the crazy uncle locked in the bedroom, trying to win a stupid radio contest that he referred to as his, “dream”. A quick note……a nice John Matuszak cameo as the biker gang leader. If you aren’t a big football fan, you may “recognize” him as “Sloth” from, “The Goonies”. Also, a nice pre-Propecia sighting of Jeremy Piven. I guess John Cusack vied for him to get this role since they grew up together and Cusack attended Piven’s parents theater workshop. I guess since Cusack has progressed in his career, he has distanced himself completely from these films. Apparently, he “hated them”. Oh well.


  1. Summer of the 80′s: Better Off Dead | Monster Popcorn - August 24, 2012

    […] on my Summer of the 80s column, with One Crazy Summer being the first (which you can read about here).  While I enjoyed One Crazy Summer, I liked Better Off Dead even more.  The film seems to have a […]

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