“Do you realize that for every lost doll there’s a little girl with a broken heart?”
One Crazy Summer, 1986 (John Cusack) Warner Bros.
Savage Steve Holland is a talented filmmaker and a gifted writer. That’s why I was disappointed with One Crazy Summer, Holland’s follow-up to the classic Better Off Dead. He had brought back John Cusack, even after Cusack publicly repudiated him for what he perceived as a creative injustice to the characters and story. One Crazy Summer is an attempt at an ambitious story, but it lacks the heart, personality, and warmth of Better Off Dead, even as Holland tries to replicate the beats of the former movie. Cusack’s “Hoops” McCann (I don’t know if “Hoops” is his real name) is a struggling artist in a family of basketball stars.
To get accepted into art school, he is required to compose a love story, but he knows nothing of love. Does anyone? Asking for a friend … I thought the artist had to possess some rudimentary talent or ability, but apparently all you need is love. On his way to Nantucket to spend the summer with his requisite oddball assortment of friends, he saves musician Demi Moore from a motorcycle gang. I don’t understand their connection to Demi’s arc, but she is trying to gather up enough finances to save her family’s home from an evil developer (played by Mark Metcalf) looking to build a Lobster Log franchise on the property.
Cusack helps promote Demi’s shows with his artwork (including an impressive animated movie), but when she finally has enough to pay the bank, she is informed that the property has been foreclosed. Shouldn’t there be some paperwork indicating this? In a last-ditch effort, Cusack and cohorts decide to race a boat in the local regatta. Whoever wins gets to be president of the Greek Council and take the disputed property. Oh wait, that was Revenge of the Nerds. Whoever wins gets to keep the $1000 check. Oh wait, that was Summer Rental. I don’t know why they’re doing this. Winning the regatta does not automatically mean victory for everyone unless it’s to eat up the running time, which is fine by me.
There are some clever sight gags, such as pieces of animation with “Hoops” trying to figure out his love story, and Bobcat Goldthwait in a monster suit resembling Godzilla accidentally smashing a miniature model of houses, but the bits are few and far between. I’ve always enjoyed John Cusack. He portrayed sympathetic characters I could relate to while retaining his capacity for cynicism and sarcasm; like a young Albert Brooks. Try as he might with this material, it doesn’t fly as confidently as Better Off Dead. Savage Steve would go on to make one of my favorite shows for the fledgling Fox network, The New Adventures of Beans Baxter with Jonathan Ward. The spy thriller parody lasted only four months and 17 episodes but was far more entertaining than One Crazy Summer.