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Yes, I grew up in the generation of original Star Wars fanatics. Yes, I only
saw Corvette Summer because of Mark Hamill. Yes, it's a very cheesy &
kitschy film. On a lark, I recently picked it up on video at a supermarket
for about $5. Having not seen it for many years, I gotta say, however, that
it's a total riot! Without a doubt, this film is probably going to hold
greater interest to those who either have fond memories of the 70s, or, at
least, a passing interest in the decade when tacky was king. Those who have
no understanding of the era will likely come away totally bewildered.
Reasons you want? Well, please allow me...
1. I love Stingrays. Besides, it's great to see Hamill become obsessed about cars in a way only teenagers can (once girls enter the picture - for real - this love affair changes forever, as it does in the film).
2. As much as I share the love for Stingrays, I equally love 70s ideas of hipness. Hamill is given total freedom to build his "dream car" and what does he do? He cranks out a custom discomobile - a glitter vette that would make any purist cringe. Insane! Oh, and let's not forget Potts' customized van (with waterbed, natch).
3. Favorite moments: a) Hamill briefly gets money & therefore a HUGE head to go with it; b) a guy who earlier attacks Hamill with a chain makes a hysterically insincere apology ("hey man, I'm real sorry about that thing, you know, with the chain thing...I'm sorry about that."); c) Hamill kicks Danny Bonaduce's butt (and Cokes go flyin'!); d) the leader to a convoy of Chicano low riders explains his notion of "class"; e) Bonaduce, again, goes for the 70s knockout punch with his limited, but memorable, dialogue ("I know...let's do a dune buggy!!" and, his personal best delivered over CB radio no less, "Breaker, breaker, Shop Class One! Honk if you love Corvettes! This is the Top Hat in the Dragon Wagon. Dig it boys & girls!")
4. The great b-movie actor Dick Miller pops up with a two dollar bill ("just call me Gladstone Duck!), as does a menacing Brion James. The film, therefore, can't be all THAT bad.
5. Cornball aside, Potts and Hamill are extremely likable, have great chemistry together and do a lot with their stock character roles. For example, here's a twist: although Potts plays a hooker with a heart of gold (Yawn...), she's actually only a "trainee" with a heart of gold (Redemption!!). So she's can be kooky without being morally corrupt, and plays it with just the right amount of edge that makes it okay to like, and not pity, her (not that I condone hookers-in-training mind you). As for Hamill, we never question his loyalty to his car. Check out the glint in his eye when he talks shop with- who else? - his shop teacher, "you're right. It IS perfect."
6. Even though there is plenty of unintended humor, which also adds to the fun, the movie IS actually pretty funny apart from that!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mark Hamill, fresh from the astronomical success of "Star Wars,"
delivers an animated and thoroughly engaging performance as Kenneth W.
Dantley, a guileless, but hot-blooded Los Angeles teenage automobile
enthusiast who leads his high school autobody shop in restoring a '65
Corvette stingray back to its full pristine turbo-charged candy apple
red glory. After the 'vette gets stolen, the extremely obsessive and
determined Hamill heads off to Las Vegas to reclaim it. While fumbling
and stumbling around Sin City Hamill hooks up with and eventually falls
bum over teakettle in love with kooky, saucy, tenderhearted aspiring
prostitute Vanessa (a wonderfully flaky and adorable Annie Potts, who's
utterly disarming in her film debut).
A winsome, spirited, perfectly enjoyable and infectiously good-natured seriocomic youth coming-of-age tale, "Corvette Summer" bristles along with an easy, carefree, unforced charm that's impossible to resist. Matthew Robbins, who also co-wrote the bright, insightful script with Hal Barwood (these two subsequently collaborated on the equally excellent fantasy treat "Dragonslayer"), directs with tremendous energy and agility, skillfully mixing a swift headlong pace, uniformly bang-up acting, laughs, romance, and such trenchantly examined themes as chasing after one's dreams (both literally and figuratively), joyful adolescent innocence being curdled into sour adult cynicism, staying true to one's beliefs, and one painful rite of passage -- the rude awakening to a harsh, jarring, not always fair reality with all its many disheartening foibles and inequities -- that we all must undergo into the taut, absorbing narrative. Technically, the film is every bit as shiny and attractive as its titular car star: Frank Stanley's lively, colorful, lustrous cinematography, Amy Jones' fluid, sharp editing and Craig Safan's swell, stirring score are all most impressive.
Kudos to the top supporting cast: Eugene Roche as Hamill's friendly autoshop teacher, Danny Bonaduce and Wendy Jo Spurber as two of Hamill's fellow car-loving autoshop classmates, Kim Milford (the wimpy browbeaten kid hero of the enticingly chintzy sci-fi revenge potboiler "Laserblast") as the cocky, effeminate leader of a stolen car ring, Brion James as the jerk who gains illegal possession of Hamill's car, the ubiquitous Dick Miller as a genial, generous gambler, T.K. Carter as a carwash employee, and Phillip Bruns as a sleazy grifter gas station proprietor. A frenetic chase sequence between a bike-riding Hamill and a car-driving James constitutes as a definite thrilling highlight. The relationship between the naive Hamill and the more worldly Potts is quite amusing, affecting and endearing; they make for a nice, enchanting couple. The film's pretty bewitching as well, thanks to its relaxed, off-beat tone, quirky bits of humor, steady, but laid-back drive, affable leads, and general uplifting air of fresh-faced sweetness. A breezy, cheeky, hugely appealing and radiantly gleaming gem of a sleeper.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Let's face it. Perhaps you have been initiated to Corvette Summer
as a chunk of 70's "cheese," or a must-see flick for Star Wars
Well, despite it's rep, it's a fun, watchable film with decent acting, and a ton of energy and heart. Unlike teen oriented films of today, it is not mean-spirited, gross, or dumb. CS is sweet without being lame.
Mark Hamill get this film thrown at him as if it was some kiss of death career killer. But watch Corvette Summer, and you'll see why it just cements his superstar 70's status. (Yes, Corvette Summer, and the previous year's Star Wars didn't translate to a serious career outside Lucasfilm in the 80's, but it's a success on its own.)
Hamill rips up the screen in a role that combines the naive and hotheaded aspects of Luke Skywalker - but set in 1970's LA and Vegas.
Hamill, as Kenny, has a total commitment to recovering the hot car, and it's fun to watch him sleuth it out with no regard to his comfort or safety. All the while during this adventure, he is falling (against his will) in love with an aspiring call girl -- who's incredible van he camps out in. Love, he finds out, can apply to women as well as tricked-out left-hand drive Stingrays with Gabriel shocks and racecar height spoilers.
Favorite scenes: Kenny tossing a tray of full Cokes at a squad car, and beating down Kootz, who lost the Corvette to thieves. "I don't want no Cokes! Who said I was thirsty!?!" Screams Kenny, in a shrill, anti-product placement rage-against-the-cola war-cry. Kenny, hitching a ride from a gang of Lowriders with hydraulic lifters - at 20 miles per hour on the highway. He decides he can walk faster than that.
This movie would never get made today, that that's too bad. It rocks.
The gas tank is either half full or half empty depending on how you
view CORVETTE SUMMER. One could justly call it forced in its humor,
directionless, repetitive and overlong. Others will see a likable,
innocent coming-of-age adventure. It depends on your mood and, more
prominently, your aversion to '70s cheese and ability to forgive silver
Kenny Dantley is a freshly-minted high school grad who has more time for cars than girls (he's played by a distinctly non-high school aged Mark Hamill, but bear with us). To say he loves the blazing red Stingray he and his shop classmates restored doesn't go far enough in describing the relationship. When the Corvette is swiped by evildoers, our hero swoops into action to track it down on the mean streets of Nevada, intent on ensuring that what was stolen and brought to Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas. He finds an unlikely ally in Vanessa (Annie Potts), an aspiring hooker with a heart of gold and an affinity for car-obsessed teenagers.
I have a special attachment to CORVETTE SUMMER. It was one of the first movies I saw late at night when I was 13 and allowed to stay home alone on the weekends while the folks went camping. TBS's NITE FLIX (oh, how we miss NITE FLIX... so much better than RUSH HOUR 2 played thrice in a row) carried it at 2 a.m., and I had a blast. Recently, I rented it after all these years and found that while it wasn't the masterpiece I remembered, it is amusing and at times quite absorbing, though it starts to lay more than rubber in the second half. Hamill and Potts are no George and Gracie, but they suffice, and the supporting cast, including Eugene Roche (as Mr. McGrath) and Kim Milford (the villainous Wayne Lowry), hold up their end of the bargain.
CORVETTE SUMMER has an awful reputation; it has even been mocked in MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATRE 3000 (as the characters mocked another film). I'm sure there are those who still blame it for the utter failure of Mark Hamill's post-STAR WARS career. But it is what it is, an imperfect though fun ride back into the late '70s. It's recommended, but only for certain tastes in the mood for something different.
I read several reviews about this movie before writing mine. I always
do for some reason. The one common thread throughout a lot of the
reviews is a point I definitely agree with. This movie oozes 70's
cheese. Keep in mind, I happen to love the tackiness that only the 70's
Aside from that, this is a fairly simple, yet entertaining movie. Does it break any new ground? Certainly not. But how many movies do? Our main character, Kenny Dantley, builds and falls in love with a custom Corvette in his high school shop class. Not long after it is built the car is stolen. The cops tell Dantley and the rest of his shop class that the car most likely will never be recovered. Dantley refuses to accept this and heads to where he heard the car was last seen. Vegas. Along the way he falls in love with Vanessa, a wannabe hooker headed to Vegas to "go pro".
There is no doubt that this is a "B" grade drive in movie. That being said, if you are a "car guy" (as I am) this movie should prove to be worth watching. Anyone who has ever fallen in love with a car will understand Dantley's obsession. It's NOT "just" a car. Car guys know their obsessions are irrational, but that doesn't stop us. Call me crazy, but the attraction a car guy has to his favorite model isn't THAT much different than the one he feels to his dream girl.
Corvette Summer offers a few laughs and a return to a part of the 70's a lot would like to forget. The disco van scene. There are some familiar faces from the era and a great chase scene at the end of the movie. Not every movie is Oscar bound. Let's not forget a movies most important purpose is to entertain.
"Corvette Summer" might not be a perfect film, but it's a breezy, occasionally funny sleeper...the type of movie that used to pack them in at drive-ins all the time. Today, there's the added value of seeing Mark "Luke Skywalker" Hamill and Annie "Designing Women" Potts in very early roles before they became big stars. There's even an appearance by Danny (Partridge) Bonaduce. Good summertime entertainment!
If you are a Star Wars fan, it is interesting to see Mark Hamill in this
movie, second only to The Big Red One as non Star Wars performances go.
Annie Potts of Ghostbusters and Designing Women fame is great. I personally have nothing against Hamill and would like to see him do more movies and choose better scripts. Look for this film from the same creative team as Dragonslayer (another underrated film, which Ally McBeal fans should seek to see Peter MacNichol in a slightly different light).
It is well worth it. It won't change your life, but it's not a rip-off. It's good summer fun.
I never saw this movie when it first came out. The adults in my life did
start taking me to movies back in 1978, but I guess they didn't care to
to see this one.
I would see it YEARS later on Cable TV around age 14.
This is a decent movie. Definatly the definition of a "sleeper". It's a solid 1970's Sleeper Classic/Classic Sleeper. A guy and his souped up car traveling around. A-la Sonny Crokett (of Miami Vice fame) and his earlier mid 1970's movie with Nick Nolte with them and their souped up car traveling around.
Mark Hamill gives a decent performance, as do the rest of the cast. Nothing Oscar-nominating, but watchable. Just a nice, light, watchable, movie about a guy, his car, and his (mis)adventures. Nice California locations too! Nice little movie.
One thing I really like from the entertainment world (besides music) is
movies that are not "perfect". If you read my other reviews here you'll
see that I have some off the wall celluloid favorites.
Corvette Summer is certainly one of them. Just two weeks ago a found a near mint copy in the original early80s box it came in. I only had seen it twice before. Once on network TV and again on local TV late night. I liked it well enough but the first time I was to young to "get it" and the second time the print shown was scratchy & muffled. With my "like new" copy,I fully see how good this movie is. No,it's not up there with box-office giants but it's a fun film with,believe it or not,a good message at the end of it.
In watching Hammil's performance as an auto-obsessed youth,I think he completely threw himself into this role. His character is so much like that,that he has even not had time for girls in his life! Demonstrated by his shyness from Annie Pott's sexual advances to him.
Annie Potts definitely is a fire-cracker in this film. She's funny,touching and even a little heart-breaking in her role. It's no wonder she went on to bigger things like "Designing Women". I disagree that she completely steals this movie from Mark though.
The underlying message is the revelation near the end,that almost relates to today's world. The shop teacher Mr. McGrath is an underpaid educator who basically takes advantage of his prize pupil and has the car stolen (like many others most likely) to give his family the things a teacher's salary cannot. Hammil's reaction in discovering the truth about the man he so admired,is just as real as the way a lot of us felt when we learned the world isn't "perfect".
Overall,the movie is great but I just didn't buy Hammil's sudden change into the egotistical jerk he became almost overnight,after forced into the shady business. (Unless his character was just trying to put on an act to fool the bad guys.) Also,when trying to escape from the garage,his character hides in a large oil drum that's full. Now,how would he get into that thing with all that stuff stacked on top of it? Does he have that keen a sense of balance?
Of course,that's not really important,the main thing is it's a fun movie to watch and while not perfect,I feel the fact of Mr. McGrath's reluctant dishonesty,makes this a film with at least some grasp of reality. Without that plot point,it actually would just be a silly movie about a teen who's car is stolen and has crazy adventures in finding it. Along the way,losing his virginity. In other words,just another mindless teen flick.
9 stars out of 10,just one off for Mark's very temporary bad guy.
I caught a bit of this movie on the good ole Superstation last night. Where would we be without Ted Turner?? Anyway.. True, this movie sucks for directing, story but there's a certain 70's kitsch that is immeasurable appealing. Don't, like, rent it or anything though! God NO! It's simply a fun, lighthearted movie, if you don't think about it much.
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