Thursday, October 9, 2014

A-Z Movies, I: "Indian Summer"

Recommended by:
Mardelle (friend)

Movie Stats:
Released 1993 (USA)
Canadian & American, in English
Director - Mike Binder
Stars - Alan Arkin, Diane Lane, Bill Paxton, and several others

Plot Summary:
A group of friends return to their childhood summer camp 20 years after the fact. Arkin co-stars as the camp director, “Unca” Lou Handler, and Lane & Paxton co-star as two of the returning campers, Beth Warden and Jack Belston.

Very minor blue language; heavily implied sexy times; drug use (marijuana); and one scene with naked female side boob.

Bad Stuff:
It’s kind of boring. It’s a movie about people in their 30s trying solve some fairly typical life problems while hanging out with their old buds for a week. If you’re past the “wild party” stage of your life, think about how boring it would be for someone else to listen in on your conversations with your old friends. That’s what this was like.

I didn’t like that the movie advocated physical violence, albeit in the boxing ring, to solve marital problems. If your spouse won’t hear you out unless you strap on some boxing gloves and KO them, you have far worse problems than you think you have IMO.

The preponderance of mom/dad jeans and long, fluffy hair on both men and women, aka early 90s fashion.

Good Stuff:
Alan Arkin. Enough said.

Although it’s billed as a comedy, I wouldn’t say that I found it especially funny. However, the scenes of the men pulling pranks on each other while giggling madly made me giggle too.

It made me wish I could gather up some of my old friends and go away with them for a week because even though I think it would look boring to anyone spying on us, it seems like a heck of a lot of fun for the participants.

The Verdict:
This is such a 90s movie through and through. I feel like they don’t really make movies like this anymore, just really sweet and a little bit cheesy, meandering and mostly pointless but feel-good, completely lacking in cynicism. In fact, twelve years after directing this, Binder would direct a favorite of mine, “The Upside of Anger,” a movie seething with both anger and cynicism, even though it too is a comedy. Sometimes I miss movies like this. (I think this is why my guilty movie pleasures are cheesy romances and Christmas movies, because I know they’ll be cutesy and they come with a guaranteed happy ending.)

I don’t think this is a great movie, but it is enjoyable. To me it falls in the category of “movies I watch when I’m feeling down about life even though I recognize they're not great.” It can be comforting to watch people onscreen try to figure out the same types of things you’re trying to figure out. 

I give the movie 3.25 stars.


Patricia said...

I _think_ I saw this. I know I saw the preview a whole hell of a lot. I'm leaning more heavily on the "watched" side because I remember being kind of bored and surprised it wasn't funnier. But I can recall absolutely nothing else, so I may not have seen it.

Someday I'm going to compile a spreadsheet of all the movies I've watched and the date I watched them, just for these such occasions. I've been keeping track since high school, but I would have to go through all of my journals and do a lot of typing and that is too big of a project for right now.

balyien said...

I had this sneaking suspicion I'd seen it as well but I hadn't. I think I'm getting it confused with another 90s reunion movie. My brain keeps trying to tell me it's "The Big Chill" (which is from 1983) but I don't think it is. It's actually been driving me a little nuts, trying to think of it.

I should compile a list of all the movies I've seen too. I'm sure it would come in handy.

Patricia said...

"The Big Chill" is very memorable in my mind, but mostly because I saw "Return of the Secacus Seven" first and loved it, then was grumpy about the pale imitation that "The Big Chill" was.

Maybe it's just me and maybe every decade has its reunion movies, but I feel like the 90s had a lot of them. I'm thinking of Now and Then with Rosie O'Donnell and three other women, with girls playing their younger selves?

balyien said...

I know I've seen "The Big Chill" but it's been a really long time.

I hate to always be bringing up the baby boomers (god knows they bring themselves up enough on their own) but I wonder if there were a lot of reunion movies in the 90s because that's when the early boomers started to hit their 40s/50s and they were feeling nostalgic? I know you and I have discussed before the weird dichotomy of 90s movies, with its abundance of both sentimental work and new/edgy work, and whether that reflects a divide between Boomer directors and Gen X directors. It's still something I'm considering exploring more. Anyway, it's a thought.