Comments Off on Pick-up Summer
Tagline: We’ll make your engine run hot.
Year: Runtime: 99 min
Director: George Mihalka
Writer: Richard Zelniker
Starring: Michael Zelniker, Carl Marotte and Karen Stephen
The year was 1980. The 70s were officially gone, but not far enough to persuade caucasian men into thinking white fro’s were NOT cool. Arcades were stocked solely with pinball machines. And most importantly, women wore their short shorts up past their navels, making a paradise of moose knuckles and buttock cheeks.
Into this nirvana came the movie Pick-up Summer, a teen-age sex comedy that breaks from most expected plot points and tropes in the genre. Originally it was titled Pinball Summer, but changed because there is far more pick-up, and I mean this quite literally (more later), than pinball. There is a bit of pick-up, read: hooking up, but the act of physically sweeping one off their feet way out numbers any getting together.
One of the most disheartening omissions is the lack of sweater meat. Sure, there is titillation in the form of nipples visible through flimsy t-shirts, but only three scenes of full on bazooms. What’s worse, two of the three scenes are quick flashes.
Sex comedy sans boobs?
The biggest departure from the genre is the lack of the outsider/loner/geek who has to challenge the dashing stud at the fad competition highlighted, in this movie’s case pinball. There’s no initial challenge where our hero fails. There’s no training montage to build up the hero back up. And though there is a final showdown, it’s hard to make a game of pinball exciting. It’s like an ugly contest. You can’t get excited about the competition. You feel sorry for the winner. And, at some point, you realize that you simply don’t care.
Instead, what this movie does offer is an hour and twenty minutes of rivalry building, in the form of two sets of idiots stealing a trophy from one another. The trophy they are taking from one another is half of the prize for winning the pinball tournament. The other half being a date with the Pinball Queen, the dream of all young girls. I understand that this is a small town, and a comedy not to be taken seriously, but really, fighting over a trophy? And Pete, the owner of the arcade, is really worried about it being stolen? What, he can’t afford to replace this piece of crap trophy?
Oh, and just to make sure the audience hates everyone in the film, there’s a liberal amount of unwarranted pranking. You would be hard pressed to find a film with kids more deserving of getting viciously murdered than these jerks. Where was Mike Myers, Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger?
Everyone in this movie—the teens, the adults, the cops—are all best described as a “shower of bastards.”
Then there’s the new fangled pinball machine, Arthur: The Talking Pinball Machine. This is the creepiest piece of technology since Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Nothing says fun like, “Hey! Don’t tickle me there!” coming from a pinball machine painted to look like Ronald McDonald’s lecherous uncle.
Why would you want to watch such an cinematic abortion? There’s a few reasons. First, there’s a smashing drinking game you can play. (I’m quite fond of the maxim, “The more you drink, the better the film gets.”) Every time someone gets picked up, drink. You can use either definition, getting with someone or sweeping off their feet. The latter will get you good and drunk. Just don’t play this game if you’re going to be driving. I don’t want to be responsible for any DUI’s.
Second, although this movie is a far cry from from what you would expect from a film of this genre made in the 80s, the fact that it does stray so far off corse makes it fun to watch. Fun in a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 kind of way. You can’t help but sling snarky comments at the screen as you watch this film. Go on, try it.
Third, there are quite a few scenes with extras, some of which where obviously there as extras, some just happened to be in the area, or “production value”. It’s fun to watch what these people are doing, partially because of what the camera is focused on is so retarded, but also because there’s some very funny stuff happening, most unintentional. There’s a few scenes where the fourth wall is broken. There’s people who don’t know what the hell they’re supposed to be doing. Better still, in the dancing scenes, the people who are dancing (and I use that term lightly) are only barely doing so. Tonic-clonic seizure comes to mind.
The best background hijinks is during the gym scene. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I will say this, it is intentional. Despite the filmmaker’s best effort to make a bad comedy, this is pretty funny.
Finally, there’s some unintentional bromance. Greg and Steve spend a little too much time together, during which they get too close for way too long. And then there’s the biker dry humping his fellow— enough of that. You get the idea. With all the touchy-feely tom foolery this film should have been called Grab-ass Summer.
This film isn’t bad enough to be remembered among the greats (Plan 9 from Outer Space, Manos Hands of Fate, KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park) but it is entertaining enough to watch, especially if you’re in a nitpicking mood. It seems counter intuitive to say, but it’s the fact that it strays from the genre that makes it worth your while.
Check out the trailer for “Pick-up Summer”