I had been on an Amazon original film kick last week. Not only did I check out Map of Perfect Little Things, but after that I decided to catch up on Summer ’03. While some may take the poster of Joey King to be a bit suggestive, it actually has some bearing within the movie. Written and directed by Becca Gleason this movie struggles to be a coming-of-age story and a family drama. Both of which don’t seem to come off completely fleshed out.
The story follows Jamie Winkle (Joey King), who is a 16-year-old teenager recounting the summer she “fucked up”. Her father’s mother is on her death bed and decided before she goes off – she wants a last dash grab to control the family. Ned (Paul Scheer) tries to play peacekeeper between his mother and wife, Shira (Andrea Savage).
Before she passes, Dotty tells Jamie to learn how to give a good blowjob and that she was baptized without her parent’s knowledge. Since she is no longer a “dirty jew”, she will see her again in heaven. She tells Dylan (Logan Medina) that he’s gay and should run away. It would be better than bringing shame to the family. Lastly, the man that Ned believed was his father isn’t.
This sets the family off and during that explosive argument, Dotty dies. Her last words hang over the family like a cloud. Each of them begins to sort out what she said and fulfill her wishes. During this time, Jamie meets a young man, who is about to dedicate his life to the priesthood. Luke (Jack Kilmer) begins a romantic relationship with Jamie, which has some explosive consequences.
Many of the characters are unlikeable. Even Joey King to some extent. Personally, I like King and think she has a good onscreen persona. It seemed this role was taken to prevent her from being a solely rom-com leading lady, as she is known for her Kissing Booth series on Netflix. Andrea Savage is very unlikeable in this role, but she would definitely be the woman someone like Ned would marry.
Jack Kilmer has a decent chemistry with King. However, he is showcased as the smoldering older guy that is “evil fruit”. Unfortunately, he isn’t that great in moments when it’s just the two of them. King does an excellent job carrying their scenes.
The strain in the family dynamic seemed a bit forced. They seem to be a family that would get along together, but the tension seems over-exaggerate. Summer ’03 would’ve been a more solid movie if it focused on the coming-of-age story or the dysfunctional family. Unfortunately, the script was decent – at best. Much of the cast was too unlikeable. By the end, I only cared about King’s character which was a stretch to say the least.
Summer ’03 was a movie that would’ve been too indie for theaters. The streaming option seemed like the best. However, maybe more experienced actors for the adults and Luke would’ve been able to threat the needle this sort of story needed. I wouldn’t recommend it as a must see. However, if you are bored on a Saturday afternoon, you could turn this on.