SXSW FILM FESTIVAL 2021 REVIEW! What do you get when you cross-pollinate Grease with High School Musical while throwing in a dash of Camp (the film, not the style) for good measure? Well, that concoction has landed in the form of Best Summer Ever. Removed from the merits of the production as a whole, which we’ll get to shortly, the musical is notable for its inclusion of people with disabilities both in front of the camera and behind the scenes.
The musical starts on the last day of a dance-focused summer camp. Tony (Rickey Alexander Wilson) and Sage (Shannon DeVido) began a wonderful relationship over the summer and are sad to be parting ways. Sage will be on the road with her moms, Gillian (Holly Palmer) and Kate (Eileen Grubba), as they travel from one town to the next, selling marijuana. Tony is heading back to NYC.
“…Beth drives a wedge between them as she wants Tony for herself…”
Or so Sage believes. See, Tony is actually from a nearby small town where he is the star of the high school football team. While Tony does not dislike football, it is not his driving passion. So, in order to get into the camp, he lied on his application. Sage convinces her parents to give her just one year of regular school, in one place, and wouldn’t you know it; it is Tony’s town.
During a pep rally, the deception is found out. Will the lovers be able to gap the lie and rekindle what they had during the summer? While they attempt to do this, cheerleader Beth (Madeline Rhodes) drives a wedge between them as she wants Tony for herself, as she’s convinced dating him will secure her position as homecoming queen.
Best Summer Ever was directed by Michael Parks Randa and Lauren Smitelli, both of whom share writing credits alongside Will Halby, Terra Mackintosh, and Andrew Pilkington. And therein lies the biggest problem with the movie. Five writers. Five. Maybe that is why every plot point seems to whiz by at breakneck speed. Sage discovers Tony’s deception, he explains everything to her, and then she offers to help him with his dancing, all in under 10-minutes. The audience barely gets to register how Sage feels about not just the seeming betrayal of trust but also of his explanation as to why Tony thought he had to keep up the lie all summer.
"…notable for its inclusion of people with disabilities both in front of the camera and behind the scenes..."