Picks and Pans Review: Summer School
Mark Harmon's thoroughly likable and easygoing performance saves this movie from a total flunk-out. But barely. He plays a California high school gym teacher who lives for his summers off. This time he has to teach a remedial English make-up class. "I'm not a real teacher," Harmon tells the vice-principal, played by Robin ("About Last Night... ") Thomas. "That's all right," Thomas replies. "They're not real students." The class has the predictable mix of high school characters: a nerd, a jock, a beautiful blonde who wants to earn her grade the old-fashioned way, an all-purpose Hispanic ethnic and two practical jokers who think they're part of a nonstop showing of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The dramatic focus, such as it is, is provided when Thomas threatens Harmon with early retirement if every student doesn't pass the class. There's also a love interest for Harmon in Kirstie (Star Trek II) Alley, a history teacher whose tolerance for ignorance is as short as her skirts. (Alley will replace Shelley Long on Cheers next season.) A movie like this depends on its one-liners, though, and with its reliance on sophomoric humor, Jeff (Laverne & Shirley) Franklin's script is tedious. It does at least perfunctorily address such high-school problems as alcoholism, dyslexia and pregnancy. But the pedagogue in all of us expects, from someone like director Carl Reiner, a lot more. (PG-13)
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