Summer Rental (1985)

“Can you tread water with that hook?”

Justin’s rating: No matter where you got this, I just hope you can get your rental fee refunded

Justin’s review: Sometimes when you start watching a movie, you get that sinking feeling in the first few minutes that pretty much nobody put any effort into it. You know without a shadow of a doubt that this is lazy, first-draft screenwriting coupled with actors who are showing up just for the craft service table and editors who never let go of that sweet malt liquor that gets them through another night.

That is, in essence, Summer Rental.

Knowing what other movies director Carl Reiner and star John Candy did in the 1980s, I am aghast how poorly made this movie is. About half of the lines are clearly dubbed in post-production, and that’s just the start of the whole mess. Summer Rental lurches from scene to scene without any clear progression or a desire to craft a story, relying instead on Candy to act boorish or get wildly frustrated at everything he encounters. It’s never a fun time when a movie decides that it’s going to put its main character through hell only to have a brief moment of redemption right before the end credits, and I can’t understand why Hollywood keeps doing this.

The plot, such as it is, concerns an air traffic controller named Jack who is forced to take a five-week summer vacation with his family. Sounds great, right? Nope! Jack is really grumpy about the whole deal and spends most of the runtime either grousing about how unfair life is or getting hurt in increasingly unfunny ways. Meanwhile, his summer rental house is a thoroughfare for public beach access, his daughter starts flirting with a lifeguard, and some rich snob finds every opportunity to get into a tussle with him. If there are actual jokes here, they require you to meet the movie more than halfway. Like, say, 95% of the way.

About the only redeeming element of Summer Rental is the presence of Rip Torn, who plays an unethical pirate business owner. The whole movie really should’ve been about him, but no, we get John Candy with a sunburn whining about how terrible life is even though he’s saddled with a good-looking wife and several weeks off of work. (As an aside, have you ever noticed that movies with obese main characters never have heavyset wives?)

After watching this, I couldn’t tell you a single trait about any of the main family or what personal arcs they traveled, other than Jack becoming a sailor for some reason. I don’t know what we’re supposed to get out of this movie, but honest to God, Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach was a better vacation film than Summer Rental.

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