Fresh, decisive and witty, Summer ‘03 is a blast in the proverbial past. Orlando Bloom posters frame bedroom walls while Nokia flip phones reign supreme as a staple accessory in this recreation of a time predating the birth of the smartphone. What isn’t old, however, is the delectable charm of a film revolving around a bubbly teenage girl’s take on life following death.
If Summer ‘03 were a boat ride, Director Becca Gleason would sit at its helm as accomplished captain. Gleason produces something special with her feature debut, down to the early ‘00s adolescent memories it invokes. Light and entirely unexpected for a movie that’s packaged like just another teen, coming of age rom-com, Gleason’s screenplay is moving throughout.
But say this feature was a sea-faring trip: then lead actress Joey King would be the mainsail, masthead, and hull. Without King, Summer ‘03 just wouldn’t work – and for good reason.
King is making waves in the press these days, what with the surefire success of her Netflix original The Kissing Booth that premiered exclusively on the streaming service this summer. She was stellar in that flick, but Summer ‘03 is the role the budding actress really finds solid footing in. Awkwardly charming, confident but insecure, and innocent but wise, King plays the hell out of titular character, Jamie.
“Be good in the sack…misadventures of sexual awakening and getting to know her authentic self.”
No shocker here thanks to that name, but the movie takes place 15 years ago in the summer of 2003. It starts with Jaime’s grandmother kicking off a chain of events that sets the tone of tomfoolery to the affair. Here’s what is surprising: on her deathbed grandmother gives Jamie a message she says the young girl needs to know about life. Along the lines of “be good in the sack,” the whispered encouragements of an elderly family member urge the 16-year-old girl forward into misadventures of sexual awakening and getting to know her authentic self.