A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Staten Island Summer is a 2015 comedy featuring an all-star cast, including many SNL performers. That said, it's disappointing how unfunny and unoriginal this movie is; teens working as lifeguards want to have one last hurrah before going off to college or the "real world" and are on a quest to have sex, drink, and take drugs. A teen boy brags of having an affair with an older woman, who frequently appears in the movie drunk and scantily clad by the pool. A misadventure of a search for marijuana leads to a teen boy snorting what he believes to be cocaine; it's actually pixie-stick powder. This same teen later has sex with an identical twin girl and calls her by her wrong name. Adults are either corny parents, hot-tempered mafia bosses, creepy pool managers, stoned slackers, drug dealers posing as ice cream vendors, or drunk middle-aged women on the prowl for underage boys. A teen lifeguard rescues a drowning young kid and has a visible erection after the rescue, causing the boy's mother to berate him for having a "kid boner." Expect a brief shot of naked female breasts underwater, frequent talk of sex and references to oral sex, implied masturbation involving a boy with a stuffed animal, frequent profanity that includes "f--k" and its variations, and gun violence.
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What's the story?
Danny (Graham Phillips) works as a lifeguard with his best friend Frank (Zack Pearlman) at a pool in Staten Island. When the summer is over, Danny is off to Harvard, and for Frank, nothing will do but to throw a huge end-of-summer party. But for that to happen, Danny must find a way to avoid Disney World with his parents (Jim Gaffigan and Kate Walsh) and, along with the other lifeguards, find a way to throw the party without alerting or inviting their creepy Speedo-clad manager (Mike O'Brien). As the night of the big party approaches, Danny begins to fall for the "Queen of Staten Island," the beautiful Krystal Maniucci (Ashley Greene), who's the daughter of a hot-tempered mob boss (Vincent Pastore). As they scheme to find a way to get alcohol and drugs for the party, Danny and Frank also must find a way to lose their virginity and figure out how they'll remain friends once Danny goes off to college and Frank stays in town.
Is it any good?
This could have been so much better than it is, but unfortunately, Staten Island Summer fails on every level. If you were to take Caddyshack, move it from a golf course in Florida to a public swimming pool in Staten Island, replace the hilarious characters with unfunny stereotypes, and force a "coming-of-age" narrative on top of the whole thing, you would begin to have an indication of what's happening here. With the talent on display here -- this movie is heavy with SNL cast members from today and the recent past -- it's surprising and disappointing how this movie fails to elicit a single laugh. The adults and kids are clichés, and all the talk of sex and drugs has been done so many times before (and so much better), it's hard to determine why this was even made.
Had they focused more on the coming-of-age aspects seemingly promised at the beginning of the movie, this could have been so much more than a shameless Caddyshack rip-off. There's even an exterminator (played by Fred Armisen) who goes after hornets in much the same way the exterminator in Caddyshack (played by Bill Murray) goes after a gopher.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about coming-of-age comedies. What do you think is the enduring appeal of movies in which teens begin the process of leaving home and moving to the next phase of their lives?
How are teen sex, drinking, and drug use portrayed in this movie? Does it match the typical behavior of teens, or does it seem overblown for the sake of comedy?
What does it mean when a movie is "formulaic"?
- On DVD or streaming: June 30, 2015
- Cast: Graham Phillips, Zack Pearlman, Ashley Greene
- Director: Rhys Thomas
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: Sexuality/nudity, crude humor and language throughout, drug content and partying - all involving teens.
- Last updated: April 24, 2020
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