Originally titled THE LAST OF THE HIGH KINGS, SUMMER FLING is yet another coming-of-age story about teen boys fumbling toward maturity with one hand on their zippers. Set in the 1970s, it benefits from a plethora of rock 'n' roll tunes that blessedly drown out the script's warmed-over
political debate. The film was acquired by Miramax for theatrical distribution but was dumped onto home video in 1998.
In 1977 Dublin, young Frankie Griffin (Jared Leto) isn't quite ready to forgo high-school joyriding and girl-watching with his callow pals to leave home and attend University. When his dad (Gabriel Byrne) departs for an acting stint in a Broadway play, Frankie's firebrand Ma (Catherine O'Hara)
must care for her large brood while canvassing for her favorite candidate in a local race, Jim Davern (Colm Meaney).
Frankie is annoyed that he has to postpone his much-anticipated beach party when the Griffins play host to the visiting children of Da's Yank producer. While serving as tour guide for American teenager Erin (Christina Ricci), Catholic Frankie catches the eye of two Protestant schoolmates, Jayne
Wayne (Lorraine Pilkington) and Romy Thomas (Emily Mortimer).
A fund-raiser at the Griffin home for Davern turns ugly when Frankie refuses to vote as his Ma demands, particularly after Davern makes a pass at her. Frankie then takes a step toward manhood when he loses his virginity to Jayne. Discovering that her son had sex with a Protestant girl, Ma
temporarily tosses him out of the house, but they patch up their differences before Da returns to see Frankie off to college. Fiercely proud of their son, they accept Frankie's independent spirit, and at the long-awaited beach bash, Frankie initiates a lasting romantic encounter with Romy.
Co-adapted by Gabriel Byrne, from a popular novel, SUMMER FLING plays out like an ersatz Ireland valentine. It's unbearable to watch brilliant sketch comedienne Catherine O'Hara sink in a Brenda Fricker role by resorting to histrionic cliches that were probably already old when "Abie's Irish Rose"
made its Broadway debut in 1919. The rest of the cast offers equally stereotypical performances.
Prettily photographed and flamboyantly acted, SUMMER FLING means to be an upbeat yet bittersweet recollection, but audiences have seen adolescence fade this way too many times before--only not this clamorously. (Violence, extreme profanity, nudity, sexual situations, substance abuse.)
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: R
- Review: Originally titled THE LAST OF THE HIGH KINGS, SUMMER FLING is yet another coming-of-age story about teen boys fumbling toward maturity with one hand on their zippers. Set in the 1970s, it benefits from a plethora of rock 'n' roll tunes that blessedly drown… (more)