“Summer’s Night” plays like the bastard child of Richard “Slacker” Linklater and Cameron “Singles” Crowe, lashing out, rebelling against its parents by being charmless, humorless and clueless about its own blindness and inadequacies. I was amazed at how writer Jordan Jolliff and director Joseph Cross could get even the littlest things so wrong.
If you’ve never heard of “Summer Night” before Netflix, consider what they put on the poster advertising it — “Thirteen friends. One night to get it right.”
Aside from the honesty of that ad — because they DON’T “get it right” — what does that tell you the movie is about? Nothing.
In an unidentified college (apparently) town (Newnam, Georgia — and Atlanta), a bunch of college-age slackers date, recreate, drink shots, play in bands at a movie house turned bar called The Alamo, or drink shots and listen to their friends bands at The Alamo.
Mel (Analeigh Tipton) has her girls (Lana Condor, Melina Vidler) with her when the pregnancy test comes out positive. Her boyfriend Seth (Ian Nelson)? He’s down at the swimming hole, getting high with Jameson (Ellar Coltrane, star of Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood”).
Seth gets the news via text, but hey — his band’s playing at The Alamo tonight. Lot to process. Sober.
Taylor (Callan McAuliffe, who was already in Georgia filming a “Walking Dead” spinoff) is off trail-riding on a mountain bike when he’s jumped and robbed by rednecks. Luckily, Dana (Ella Hunt of “Anna and the Apocalypse”) is there to nurse his wounds. In the woods.
Jack “Rabbit” (Bill Milner) has a thing for Lexi (Ms. Condor), and Andy (Justin Chatwin) plays in the band with Seth and Caleb (Hayden Szeto).
They’ll work everything out over drinks and some jangling/sensitive alt-pop (a banjo makes an appearance) at The Alamo, where Corin (Elena Kampouris) takes the cover charge at the door, crushes on Jameson and is appalled when he shows up with the assertive, confident and seriously sexy Harmony (Victoria Justice, a long way from TV’s “Victorious”).
Is that “thirteen friends?” Lemme recount.
That two-gorgeous women contending for a pretty guy dynamic — “male wish fulfillment fantasy” in screenwriter speak — plays out twice in “Summer Night,” one of a myriad of crimes committed by screenwriter Jordan Jolliff. Seth takes Dana to the bar (she’s underage) and has to contend with the undesired come-ons of bombshell Vanessa (Vidler).
Fortunately, there’s a Magical Negro (Khris Davis), hanging by the door, smoking, to advise his young white friends.
“You can’t build a house using your head for a hammer!”
Well, at least he gets the character count to “thirteen.”
Damn, this is dumb. There are only a couple of truly quotable lines — Caleb’s withering put-down of Seth getting Mel pregnant — “This isn’t 1937!” — is one. Hot Hot Harmony’s aloof expectation of slavish devotion is another.
“I don’t date guys who’re SORTA into me.”
Otherwise, the long, musical evening (Hop Along tunes are played, apparently, another band steals the name of ’80s myth The Barking Spiders) adds up to a lot of nothing at all. Nothing.
MPAA Rating: unrated, with violence, smoking, drinking, profanity
Cast: Analeigh Tipton, Ellar Coltrane, Victoria Justice, Ian Nelson, Callum MacAuliffe, Lana Condor, Elena Kampouris and Bill Milner
Credits: Directed by Joseph Cross, script by Jordan Jolliff. A Samuel L. Goldwyn release on Netflix.
Running time: 1:38