Best Summer Ever Image

Best Summer Ever

By Bobby LePire | March 19, 2021

While the film eventually settles down and finds a better pace, discoveries and character turns still aren’t always given the proper time to breathe. I get why Beth is jealous and seeks to sabotage Sage and Tony’s relationship (via blackmail mostly), but she has an assistant. For the life of me, I could not tell you this character’s name or what he actually does to help in her devious machinations. The musical is so stuffed to the brim and moves from one (mostly) impressive number to the next that I don’t know who one of the two main antagonists is.

Best Summer Ever is a musical and, therefore, only as strong as its songs; do bear in mind that I don’t have a tracklisting, so I am guessing as best I can as to the titles of the songs. Happily, with one exception, I really liked these tunes. They won’t necessarily blow you away with their compositions, and the lyrics are a bit on the nose at times, but they are catchy and suit the overall tone and vibe. Save for Roll Your Own Path, which is terrible. While the sentiment is sweet – Gillian and Kate sing about how Sage can do anything she wants in life – and it fits the themes well, it is not pleasant to listen to. The choreography is not very dynamic for this particular number either.

“…I really liked these tunes.”

This is surprising as the dancing is quite stellar for all the other numbers. The opening number set to the titular song, Best Summer Ever, is a lot of fun. The singers use their surroundings to fun effect, like when a camper doing dishes sprays the camera directly with water. It is a fun bouncy composition, and the dancing matches that energy. Tony’s big revelation moment, happening in the last third of the film, Ready To Ride (it might be called Dancing Free), is host to the best dancing in the entire movie. While not a huge surprise, it is a real delight to experience.

The acting is quite good all the way through. Shannon DeVido and Rickey Alexander Wilson share excellent chemistry so that even when the story beats speed their characters past essential moments, they remain believable and engaging. Madeline Rhodes, as the selfish Beth, is energetic and sings her heart out. Emily Kranking plays fellow schoolmate Nancy, and her comedic timing is spot on. Just about every scene she’s in is hilarious.

Best Summer Ever wants to do so much at once that it never slows down to allow the more dramatic moments to sink in properly. But, as a showcase for the cast and crew, it works rather well. Most of the songs are good, the dancing is energetic and well-choreographed, and it has charm to spare.

Best Summer Ever screened at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival.

Best Summer Ever (2020)

Directed: Michael Parks Randa, Lauren Smitelli

Written: Will Halby, Terra Mackintosh, Michael Parks Randa, Andrew Pilkington, Lauren Smitelli

Starring: Shannon DeVido, Rickey Alexander Wilson, Madeline Rhodes, Emily Kranking, Holly Palmer, Eileen Grubba, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

Best Summer Ever Image

"…notable for its inclusion of people with disabilities both in front of the camera and behind the scenes..."

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