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Having spent my best years living in the 80s, I remember quite fondly all the films that weren't afraid to push the envelope in terms of comic taste and suggestive lewd-ness. This particular generation of ridiculous celluloid outings was given the moniker of "Screwball Comedy".

However, being the responsible people that my parents were, I wasn't allowed to watch half of these questionably moralistic flicks and my exposure was limited to those productions that didn't cross the "acceptable for children" guideline. Funny thing is that some of these films still managed to slip through the net like Police Academy and Revenge Of The Nerds, but I guess that the rare occasional references towards human anatomy was infrequent enough to let us all enjoy the crazy antics onscreen.

Even then, some movies just missed our radar altogether, so much so that I wasn't even aware of their existence - one such flick was One Crazy Summer which was made more for the family oriented film-going members of the cinema (just in case you were worried about that).

One Crazy Summer
Movie
Hoops McCann (John Cusack) is an aspiring teenage artist on a high school basketball scholarship (of which he has never scored a two-pointer before) and his life's dream is to create an illustrated love story, however he's out in the luck department when it comes to dating women. This shortcoming is the catalyst for failing to come up with a storyline that he would like to work with.

His closest buddy George (Joel Murray) suggests that they go together to Grandma's place (Billie Bird) in Nantucket for the summer. Even before they can even get onto the ferry they rescue free spirit Cassandra Ellrich (Demi Moore) from a brightly coloured gang of motorcyclists but lose the money she had in her possession. They all arrive safe and sound on the island to the irrational ramblings of The Stork Twins, Clay (Tom Villard) and Egg (Bobcat Goldthwait) along with a host of other crazy characters including the mentally divergent ex-Army General Raymond (Joe Flaherty) and his son Ack-Ack (Curtis Armstrong).

Cassandra reveals to Hoops that she is in desperation to save her grandfather's house and will do anything to raise the $3,000 she needs to pay the bank with. The main villains in this piece are the local rich nobs on this island, the Beckersteads, who are after Cassandra's prime real estate so that they can build their condominium development over the top of it.

With the help of Hoops and his friends they endeavour to save Cassandra's abode by whatever means they can, starting off with promoting Cassandra's rock band (and her atrocious song miming which is still in vogue today). Ultimately, this gang of unlikely heroes will thwart the bad guys, save the world and Hoops finally falling in love with a damsel in distress (and maybe even something to finally write about).

One Crazy Summer
With its extremely limited budget, the creators delivered an enjoyable romp with an equally charming story of love as well as beating the bad guys at their own game. What makes it even more bearable is that these unlikely events only go on long enough for the joke's sake, rather than them outstaying their welcome and holding up the pace of the movie.

Starring a host of variously familiar faces, this adolescent outing wasn't something that was going to set the cinematic world on fire. But now that I have seen this for the very first time (fresh as it were) I can see why it holds a place in some people's hearts, even though it doesn't rank amongst the highest of echelons like Animal House or Porky's (maybe because it doesn't have all that questionable yet secretly desirable gratuitous sexual innuendo in it).

John Cusack and Demi Moore each had about a half dozen movies under their belts before they came together for One Crazy Summer. John is as thin and young as you'll ever see him, although Demi has this appealingly puppy-fat shape to her body compared to the surgically-enhanced stick figure she now sports. Incidentally, Director Savage Steve Holland also helmed John Cusack's previous film appearance in Better Off Dead.

Video
This is what I call the "grab the film out of the can and throw it in the video converter box" type of transfer, both in the visual and aural quality stakes. No attempt was made to remaster either the image or soundtracks, but what we have here is perfectly serviceable for the kind of movie that it is. Unfortunately, this is another one of Warners' NTSC specials which means that they couldn't be bothered deriving a separate PAL transfer for it. But the difference here is that the encoding was generated this year (2003) rather than in the dark dingy days of 1997 when the DVD format first came out. The 1.78:1 video presentation is stored on a single-layer 16:9 enhanced DVD which holds up well to the rigours faced from the film negative.

One Crazy Summer
The colour scheme is nicely saturated with a well-realised tonal delineation throughout the feature. The fashions of the day are faithfully reproduced with the post-flare, pre-fluorescent 1980s stylings of polyester skin-tight clothing (some with plaid motifs) and equally garish hues in the backgrounds - most of you will remember this cross-eyed inducing combination of colours vividly from The Wedding Singer which revisited this era ten years later. The image, too, is surprisingly sharp in focus with no hint of blooming in the video and there's no low-level noise to contend with.

Black levels and shadow detail are spot on, although the night-time scenes suffer the most from the limited production values at the time of filming. The DVD, however, keeps up with the compression demands quite admirably. There are virtually no video artefacts present except for some unavoidable pixelated blocking around the more severe cases of badly rendered fine detail. Despite print damage, there are almost no instances of shimmer or aliasing even in the cross-patterned collared shirts.

That said, there are many film artefacts for you to enjoy and pick out at your leisure, as the film print is riddled with these problematic bits and pieces but they still don't really ruin the viewing experience. Grain is only ever obvious when the uniform colour shots are being displayed like the sky or cartoon sequences especially, though  it is something which goes relatively unnoticed when more complex images are on screen. Dirt, dust and hairs make their presence known every few seconds in that very typical "here comes the edit" kind of way, which is so ingrained into our subconscious mind nowadays.

Audio
We are graced by both English and French 1.0 mono Dolby Digital presentations. Need I say more?

Well, the dialogue is thankfully easy to understand with the music and sound effects understandably restricted in fidelity, but at least it is not grating to the ears unlike some other unremarkable mixes I know of. The only major hassle might be from a slight background noise that only pokes its head out for those nitwits who think that bumping up the volume on their mega-dollar home cinema system might help to get all those extra speakers to start working - subs and surrounds play no part in these soundtracks. Also, the French mix is duller sounding than the English one which is saying something.

One Crazy Summer
Given the age of the original recorded sound mix(es), these tracks could be shoved into a dictionary next to the word "satisfactory". And even more ironically, the audio commentary is a two-channel affair which is probably a more lively sounding one than the movie's own.

Extras
As you may have guessed, there's not much here to look forward to if you wanted a thorough behind-the-scenes examination of what it takes to create a lasting classic of a movie like this (One Crazy what?).

The next best thing would be to listen to the audio commentary with its director and two stars, namely Savage Steve Holland, Bobcat Goldthwait (Police Academy’s "Zed") and Curtis Armstrong (Revenge Of The Nerds’s "Booger"). These guys obviously enjoyed getting back together to revisit this film almost 20 years down the track, as they talk about the many goings-on with filming and cast & crew shenanigans in general. It's a lot more entertaining than the technically informative commentaries that most other DVDs house. These more often than not bore me rigid with their mundane observations of the obvious. It's just great to sit back and enjoy the rapport that these three nutters still have with each other so I'm thankful for its inclusion on this disc.

There's also a minimal cast & crew listing which is five pages longer than the usual one-page offerings from Warners, and shows selected movie highlights for John, Demi and Steve. The original trailer is also included, although the sound mix is almost definitely a stereo two-channel track, which of course makes me wonder about how far Warner was prepared to go to get this movie onto DVD in the first place.

One Crazy Summer
Overall
If you're under 30 and have no idea what the 80s was all about (at least in the movies) then this is one of the better idiot-flicks of the day. You can then see what the world was like for us oldies with its nostalgic, quirky, innocent quality that we had as youngsters. But if you're over 30 then you may or may not want to remember how naff the fashions and music stylings were for that period, although you can be safe in the knowledge that today's hip-hop culture will look just as ridiculous to our kids in twenty years time.

I should really dock a point off the video quality since this R4 DVD is exactly the same R1 NTSC disc as found in the States, but the transfer is admittedly stronger than it really should have been considering the condition of the print that it was struck from. For around half the cost of a regularly priced DVD, this is something of a change from Warner’s usual policy of charging full fare for whatever products they release on the market (good and bad). This R4 disc is also encoded for Regions 1, 2 and 3.

Although not as memorable as other movies of its decade, One Crazy Summer is something that comfortably fills in a spare 90 minutes after a hard day's yakka.


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