Ping Pong Summer
By Sandie Angulo Chen,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Summer coming-of-age tale is high on nostalgia, low on plot.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Rad learns the importance of perseverance and discipline and not letting someone else's perception of you determine how you act or what you do.
Positive Role Models
Teddy is a good friend to Rad, and Randi Jammer turns out to be a big help and mentor to Rad.
Violence & Scariness
The town bullies threaten Rad and Teddy, shove them, insult them, and pour milk over Rad's face.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few kisses between teens and an awkward scene when Rad is beat-boxing in the shower but his mother thinks he's masturbating.
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Infrequent language and insults includes "prick," "a--hole," "s--t," "sissy," and "loser."
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Products & Purchases
Brands/logos seen include Phillips Seafood, Nike, Sony, video games like Pac-Man, and The Greene Turtle restaurant.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
It's rumored and then it looks like one girl puts cocaine in her Slurpees/suicide drinks, but later she reveals that she was just putting Pixy Stix sugar in it.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ping Pong Summer is an indie coming-of-age comedy set in the summer of 1985 in Ocean City, Maryland. A Sundance Film Festival flick, the movie is fine for most teens. Expect a smattering of language ("s--t," "a--hole") and references to drugs (kids gossip about a girl who may or may not put cocaine in her Slurpees), as well as some scenes of bullying/insults/pushing and shoving. The movie will remind young viewers that if they want something, they need to practice and focus and not let others bully them into self-pity.
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Ping Pong Summer
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What's the Story?
It's the summer of 1985, and Rad Miracle (Marcello Conte) is a suburban 13-year-old headed to Ocean City, Maryland, with his family. Rad, shy and awkward, is not-so-secretly into early rap and break dancing. After arriving at his family's rental house, Rad goes off exploring and meets another summer visitor, Teddy (Myles Massey), who shows him the beach destination's hottest destination for teens: the Fun Hub, a video arcade-meets-clubhouse where locals and summer kids mingle and play Pac-Man and ping pong. Throughout the summer, Rad experiences his first crush, gets bullied by two snobby rich boys, and learns to play ping pong like a pro.
Is It Any Good?
PING PONG SUMMER is so earnest that it feels wrong to judge it too harshly. It doesn't have much of a plot, and it's more of a nostalgic experience for fortysomethings who grew up in the '80s than a movie to which current teens can relate. With its Karate Kid -meets-Dodgeball-via-The Way Way Back elements, the movie has familiar and endearing moments, but it's too slow and forgettable to be on par with any of those other films.
The movie's missed opportunities include everything from Rad's unexplored background -- he's got a Scottish dad (John Hannah) and Southern mom (Lea Thompson, herself a veteran of iconic '80s movies like Some Kind of Wonderful and Back to the Future) to his underused sister to his predictable meet-up with eccentric neighbor Randi Jammer (Susan Sarandon). Despite the sincere performances, there's a lot to be desired in the story development. But for those looking for a nostalgic cinematic trip back to the '80s or viewers who grew up going to beach towns for summer vacation, Ping Pong Summer could be a temporarily amusing "I remember when" diversion.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what makes Ping Pong Summer a coming-of-age story. What elements define that subgenre to you? What are your favorites, both on screen and in book form?
Is Rad's relationship with his sister and parents realistic? Do you think most siblings fight and roll their eyes at their parents?
Why do so many films feature eccentric older loners as mentors? How does Randi Jammer fit into the stereotype?
- In theaters: June 6, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: August 5, 2014
- Cast: John Hannah, Lea Thompson, Susan Sarandon
- Director: Michael Tully
- Inclusion Information: Bisexual actors
- Studio: Gravitas Ventures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: April 4, 2023
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