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Summer of Sam

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 12/19/99 23:48:24

"Spike has something to say, but hey, say it quicker next time."
3 stars (Average)

Spike is stylin'. He really is. Cat knows how to make the camera transmit weather. Observe flicks like She's Gotta Have It and Do The Right Thing. These films actually make the room temperature rise. You sweat. Your blood pumps. You get uncomfortable. And for a subject matter like the Son Of Sam serial killings, that's the kind of ability that can make a good premise into a great movie. There's just one problem. Spike takes far too long to shoot his cinematic load and by the time you're into the second hour of foreplay you kinda wish he'd just let the pants hit the floor already.

It's New York, it's summer and the Son Of Sam is blasting holes through the heads of assorted random teenagers. People are getting a little antsy. They're getting paranoid. They're changing their hair so as to not look like his targets, they're accusing each other of mass murder, they're going nuts and the press is helping them along the road to the Nutbar-ville.

Great premise for a flick, eh?

And in the midst of it all is a group of Italian dudes who, in when not fucking anything that moves, doing some disco, beating on "fagues" and doing the odd line of coke/speed/bleach, illustrate exactly what the city is feeling. Complete panic mixed in with grumpy machismo.

Unfortunately, Spike wants these guys to have their own film and he gives them one. Each. Leguizamo and Sorvino play a married couple who, like the city, are about to split apart at the seams. Leguizamo's best friend returns from the UK where he's been punking it up and starts dating the town bike in between dancing for sugar daddy's and playing "rawk and ro-well".

And then there's the killer (who by day works for a legal practice, or was that me just getting confused with something else?) who is having trouble with the dog next door who just won't shut the hell up (I can empathise, bro). In fact, this dog is a big black Babe with big white teeth, but I'm digressing.

Unable to concentrate on one particular avenue (or perhaps trying to cover multiple avenues), Summer Of Sam does one too many twists and not enough shouting. Given the chance to have a long winded spray about irresponsible journalism, paranoia, big city living, infidelity, drugs, the death of disco, friendship or serial killers, Spike has chosen "all of the above" and lost any chance of making *A* point.

Is it typical Spike stylin'? Yeah. Is the music great? Sho' nuff. Do the performances rock shit? Abso-diddly-utely, especially Adrien Brody as the punk dude. Is it worth a look-see? Well, on a dollar:minute of film ratio it's good value, but if you're expecting a mind-shattering point to be made, go see something else. And wear shorts.

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