"Staten Island Summer" is strictly a "summer" movie. It elucidates the shenanigans at Great Kills Swim Club on Staten Island, one of the five great boroughs of New York --- nothing more, nothing less. Is it silly --- yes!
Did I laugh --- yes!
According to David, "Staten Island Summer" is terrible, but since he led such a dull existence between high school and college, he simply cannot relate. The lifeguards at this club, Danny Campbell (Graham Phillips), Frank Gomez (Zack Pearlman), Skootch (Bobby Moynihan), Mary Ellen (Cecily Strong) and Anthony (John DeLuca) want to have one last big bash before summer's end and Danny goes off to Harvard.
But the creepy pool manager, who wears only a red Speedo, Chuck (Michael Patrick O'Brien), is dead set against it. He's jealous, of course, because even back in the day when he was just a lifeguard, he never got invited to any of the end-of-summer parties.
I understand David's dismay with "Staten Island Summer" because, being produced by Lorne Michaels and written by SNL's Colin Jost, one would expect something a lot funnier. This is a small budget film, so I wasn't anticipating high hilarity.
It is, however, a nice showcase for Phillips who was a standout on "The Good Wife" for many years. I could have lived without Pearlman, who is vastly annoying as Danny's loser best friend. The highly implausible ending, which has Frank scoring with a cutie before Danny, is over-the-top and absurd, but barring that, there are a few solid hi-jinks that make this a fun video watch. Trust me, we've seen worse --- and Moynihan is a hoot as Skootch!
Opinion: Wait for DVD
"Staten Island Summer" is right up there with purported laugh fests like "Hot Tub Time Machine" and "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" --- actually, it makes that film look relatively competent. With the "Saturday Night Live" stamp of approval all over it --- from Lorne Michaels co-producing, to long-time SNL producer Rhys Thomas directing, to Weekend Update's Colin Jost writing, and a host of performers from the show in the cast --- we deserve better, much better.
Depending almost entirely on sight gags and penis jokes, "Staten Island Summer", aside from one or two original ideas, is a huge disappointment. The funniest SNL player, Kate McKinnon, is wholly underutilized, which is to say she's barely in the film. Cecily Strong, another very funny mainstay on the show, is given a role where she merely plays it straight, despite her strength doing parodies.
As any SNL fan will tell you, some skits work and others fall flat. I laughed once when the beautiful, bikini-clad blond Krystal Manicucci (Ashley Greene, from the "Twilight" franchise) makes her appearance, and men around the pool, staring dumbfounded, burst into tiny pieces, like human firecrackers exploding. That was clever and original.
One of the gawkers, Danny Campbell (Graham Phillips from "The Good Wife"), doesn't explode. He summons enough courage to actually talk to her, and eventually, sort of, have a date. This doesn't sit well with her grumpy father, Leo (Vincent Pastore of "Sopranos'" fame), who threatens to kill or maim Danny if he comes near Krystal. The excess of ill humor attempts undermine what might have been a poignant aspect of the story.
Phillips has a bright future in films. He exhibits a genuine earnestness that you can't teach. Comedy does not seem to be his forte, but he's also one of the characters playing it straight, while everyone around him in this cornball effort is a goofball.
Fred Armison is given marginally funny things to do as the pool maintenance guy, but blowing up a building trying to demolish a wasp nest? Stupid, not funny. And then he deposits the still-intact nest into Chuck's --- the unpopular pool manager --- convertible and puts the top up. Soon an unwary Chuck gets into his car and shuts the door. Chuck is played by SNL writer Michael Patrick O'Brien, and he is actually the funniest part of the movie. Just looking at O'Brien's kisser evokes a chuckle.
This is all you can expect from "Staten Island Summer" --- a chuckle --- and an overabundance of human anatomy hogwash. In all fairness, I should mention that the part of the only stud lifeguard, Anthony, is nicely played tongue-in-cheek by John DeLuca. He resembles Tom Cruise, with a finely chiseled physique. Still, this movie is a waste of talent.
Opinion: Don't Bother!