One Crazy Summer (1986)


Writer/director Savage Steve Holland reteams with John Cusack for another absurd comedy in the vein of Better Off Dead. This time, Cusack heads to Nantucket island after graduating from high school. Once there, he and his friends come to the aid of a struggling singer (Demi Moore) whose family home is targeted by a nefarious land developer.

One Crazy Summer lacks the high concept and pitch black humor that pushed Better Off Dead so delightfully over the edge. But in other ways, it tries too hard to imitate the previous movie. The family members are still as whacky as ever (including a grandmother who charges her grandchildren for dinner), Curtis Armstrong is still playing Cusack’s best bud, there are more animated sequences, and there’s even a climactic athletic event that trades sail boating for Better Off Dead‘s skiing.

Fans of Better Off Dead (everyone should be one) may be interested to see Holland and Cusack in another pairing, but temper your expectations. One Crazy Summer never hits the same comic highs, and a good number of jokes fall flat. Cusack carried the earlier film, but this time he’s just along for the ride, and Demi Moore’s underwritten part has even less impact on the movie. But there are enough sight gags and cartoon antics to save the film from total failure. Highlights include Armstrong’s introduction on a New England beach inexplicably under artillery attack, and a couple of little girls who learn the hard way that if you make ugly faces, your mug could stick that way.

With Bobcat Goldthwait, Tom Villard, John Matuszak, Billie Bird, Jeremy Piven, and William Hickey.

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