The Perfect Summer: Crank the AC, Man the VCR

Outside magazine, June 1994


The Perfect Summer: Crank the AC, Man the VCR

Summer viewing for the discriminating sloth
By Alex Heard


Cut the self-delusional "I'm active. I won't rent movies this summer." Yes, you will. And when the urge strikes you'll be splayed on an AC-caressed quadrangle of shag in an unkempt beach house--sunburned, beer-addled, irritable from the anthracite payback of charred-hamburger burps. At this point, you'd be wise to forget so-called fine-art films, which will only put you to sleep. Instead, knuckle-crawl toward the rental store's shelves of rollicking schmeck--movies that deliver senseless fun without asking much in return. Here's a season's worth of can't-miss bills.

Road trips
Thrill to Memorial Day's anything-is-possible horizons with Losin' It, a three-virginal-high-schoolers-in-Tijuana picture starring Jackie Earle Haley (best known as the scraggly Moocher in Breaking Away). Then top off your tanks with Coupe de Ville, Kiss My Grits, and Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit II.

Summer lovin' I: shoulders to cry on
Perfect for cool, early-June nights, these sappy yet warm dramatic ensemble comedies all arrive at the same heavy truth: Love hurts, but pals help. First, relive the buddy-system angst of camp with the grown-up bunkmates of Indian Summer. Then move on to The Four Seasons, Married to It, and Peter's Friends (also known as the British Big Chill).

Hey, we can beat these guys!

Just suffered another 15-0 beach-volleyball skunking? Bactine your soul with the eternal Hollywood triumph of regular-schmo Good over fratboy Evil--played out in a range of athletic arenas: Summer Rental (John Candy sails to victory), Breaking Loose (surfing), Up the Creek (whitewater rafting), and Rad (BMX racing, featuring, Lord knows why, former Olympic gymnast Bart Conner).

Summer lovin' II: the crème de la cringe
Funny About Love, Pyrates, Modern Love, and Ghosts Can't Do It. Select any two on a midsummer's eve and find out who your real friends are. (Hint: If they're genuinely moved, break up with them.)

The kickbuttathon
How better to celebrate the Fourth of July than with a pair of seventies-era vigilante maniacs who use fists and lumber to brutalize bad guys: Billy Jack and Sheriff Buford Pusser. The Shakespearean climax of Final Chapter: Walking Tall is especially chilling--Sheriff Pusser number two (Bo Svensen) fatally crashes the Corvette that he bought with the loot he made in the original Walking Tall (when he was Joe Don Baker).

Winding down

Labor Day's approach requires a film with the sad resonance of leaves on a wind-raked sidewalk--and a Brat Pack cast. Be the pain with Haunted Summer, which details the 1816 Italian getaway of Lord Byron 'n' friends and features Eric Stoltz as Percy Bysshe Shelley. "The psychedelic sixties," one critic has aptly said, "had nothing on this 'summer of love.'"

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