“Best Summer Ever” is a high school musical. It’s not a “high school musical” – it’s better. Delicate and exuberant, it contains set pieces modeled on “Footloose” and “Grease” and feels closer to these films in spirit than to the Disney Channel. This type of film vibrates with the energy of the people who made it and whose enthusiasm radiates from the screen. The actors and filmmakers seemed to have had a very good time bringing “Best Summer Ever” to life. Seeing it made me happy.
In Michael Parks Randa’s and Lauren Smitelli’s film (available upon request), Tony (Rickey Wilson Jr.) is the star quarterback who privately longs to become a ballet dancer. Sage (Shannon DeVido) is the daughter of hippies who work in the pot trade and whose nomadic lifestyle has made it difficult for her to settle down. Tony and Sage fall in love at summer camp, but when summer ends and Sage ends up in Tony’s school, the young lovers are besieged by the usual teen movie crises – the scheming cheerleader (MuMu), the soccer rival (Jacob Waltuck). and of course the big game, the outcome of which rests heavily on Tony’s reluctant shoulders.
It’s all very familiar. What’s new is the cast, largely composed of actors with a range of physical and mental disabilities. These disabilities are never mentioned, and disabilities do not play a role in the plot. The effect of this inclusivity is a sense of amazing warmth and camaraderie that is most compelling during the film’s many original musical numbers, which are staged and shot with panache. The cast has a wonderful screen presence – especially DeVido, whose turn it is as the heroine in love. Representation is important. And in “Best Summer Ever” the film comes to life.
The best summer ever
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 12 minutes. Rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay-TV operators.