Spawned in 1988, Summer School played on HBO all the time, every summer. It was great. I’ve loved this movie since the first time I saw it. Really, what’s not to love? It tells the tale of Freddy Shoop (Mark Harmon), who gets roped in to teach remedial English despite that he’s already got plans to go to Hawaii. Hilarity ensues. Here are five reasons to watch it this weekend, in the spirit of summer.
#1 – The inciting incident
Who has not wanted to quit their job after winning the lottery? Find me one person. I dare you. Even if you love your job, you’d still quit if you won the lotto. You know it, I know it. Let’s all just own up to that one and live vicariously through this example.
#2 – A pretty foreign exchange student
Anna-Maria (Fabiana Udenio) arrives just in time to learn English over the summer with our rag-tag group of kids. She’s a knockout, and better yet, she takes a shine to the dorks that fawn all over her. She’s not prissy or mean-spirited; she’s in America to have fun. That’s half the spirit of this film: show up, don’t take things too seriously, and have fun. We could all learn from her.
#3 – A better look at teen pregnancy
Well, well, well, look at what we have here. In between all of the screwball antics of Shoop and company, we get a look at a teen pregnancy that thinks outside of the box. Rhonda (Shawnee Smith) is visibly pregnant while attending class, making paternity jokes and trying her best to pass. She also gets a chance to be viewed as a person, as well as have a love interest. It’s nice to see someone get treated like a flesh-and-blood individual who happens to be pregnant rather than as a blatant stereotype. Brava, Rhonda.
#4 – Chainsaw and Dave
You may have guessed, but I’m a horror movie fan. I have been since I was a kid. My best friend and I were nicknamed The Gruesome Twosome as teenagers. Chainsaw (Dean Cameron) and Dave (Gary Riley) are probably the closest thing to my best friend and I to ever be captured on film. It’s uncanny. Their love of gore, sarcasm and adherence to semantics both tickle my heart and bring a tear to my eye. Stay gold, boys. Stay gold.
#5 – Mr. Shoop’s classroom and results
All too often, teachers get shit for having what some consider to be an “easy” job. You know what those naysayers don’t see? The hours spent making someone else’s kid’s life better. They don’t see the extra mile (or two or six) put in to connect and get someone to succeed. So when Mr. Shoop agrees to help his kids out – who, mind you, are all nice kids caught up in their own problems – rest assured that there are a lot of teachers out there that would be more than happy to do that for their own students.
You may have to dig a bit to find this, but it’s a perfect summertime film. You have your mission – go forth!