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Overall Rating

Awesome: 24.06%
Worth A Look30.83%
Average: 16.54%
Pretty Bad: 17.29%
Total Crap: 11.28%

11 reviews, 67 user ratings

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Summer of Sam
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by Scott Weinberg

"YAWN! Serial killer made boring by Mr. Pretentious"
2 stars

Is it me, or do other movie fans find the phrase "A Spike Lee Joint" embarrassing to say? Since when is a "joint" a movie? Don't get me wrong, here. I love joints. Strip joints, fat joints, and the joints that hold my entire skeleton together are pretty cool, but I still just don't get Spike Lee at all.

Spike Lee probably has this banner over his bed: "Subtlety is for pussies", because he's about as light as one of Roseanne's thighs. Hey, Spike, why not give your audience a little credit for figuring some things out for themselves? Not every single scene needs to be delivered with the delicacy of a broken sledgehammer.

The plot revolves around an unappealing group of people who happen to live in the neighborhood where the Son of Sam is shooting women left and right.

Summer of Sam seems to pride itself on not having much of a traditional narrative; you're supposed to observe the neighborhood denizens, and care about them and how quickly you'd wish the killer would get to it and shoot them all in the face. But, no, we need to see over 130 minutes of embarrassing racism, homophobia, homosexual dalliances, and a twenty minute scene of Mira Sorvino and John Leguizamo dancing every five minutes. I'm lost here. There's this one scene where the dog starts to talk to the killer. It's meant to be a brief glimpse inside the head of a lunatic, scary, creepy, etc. Know how the audience reacted where I saw it? Like this:


Seriously, Spike? When audiences take your supposedly creepiest scene and laugh hysterically at it, maybe it's time for some night courses at 40 acres and a tool community college. He's certainly made some inspired movies before this one. Maybe he should get back to the telling of a story and get off the soapbox.

The most frustrating thing about Spike Lee is that he's proven that he can sustain a quality movie (Do the Right Thing, School Daze, Crooklyn) but more often than not, he is indulgent and redundant. I can see the scene now:

Universal Executive: "Hey, Spike, maybe this "joint" could use a little editing. You know, make it a little tighter, so not everyone will be staring at their watches every 23 seconds?"

Spike: "You racist!"

Maybe Spike will truly be considered a great filmmaker when he worries more about the story he's telling, and less about being an "artiste". This dull blob of a film rates two stars here only because of John Lequizamo's brilliant dramatic acting and Mira Sorvino's wonderful comic acting, even though it was quite unintentional.

Looks like someone's second film after some studio saw him as the "next big thing". A yawning, sweaty chore of a film. If Spike were in the same room as you, you'd probably scream "Shut UP already!"

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 07/17/99 07:12:58
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User Comments

9/16/17 morris campbell interesting but undone by sleaze & overlength 3 stars
7/22/11 Dave Smith On a ten star scale, a 1/4 star away from a MASTERPIECE. It's about the NEIGHBORHOOD. 5 stars
3/03/11 chris c Somewhat of a spiritual counterpart to Do the right thing despite a lot of vulgarity & sex 4 stars
6/02/09 MP Bartley Sweats and flails to little thick-headed effect. Some good moments survive. 3 stars
7/02/08 jointz on second thought, I can see what Scott's saying, the movie has no straight narrative 4 stars
5/19/08 jointz Weinberg obviously has a stick up his ass! How could you NOT love the Talking Dog? 5 stars
1/28/07 action movie fan funny, tough and super realistic-the best film of 1999 5 stars
6/11/06 Jeff Anderson Some of Lee's strongest, best work to date. Sorvino's sexy & great performance STANDS OUT!! 5 stars
8/20/05 ES Save your money, this has about five minutes of time dedicated to the killer 1 stars
5/21/05 Zelemont Are you SERIOUS? Long, pointless, straying waste of talented actors! BORING! DONT BOTHER!! 1 stars
12/22/04 Landshark visceral characters in that NYC '77 scene, Lee gets it 5 stars
8/14/04 Oliver Fantastic. 5 stars
1/22/04 Sugarfoot Spike Lee sucks, plain and simple. And so do most of his movies. (Girl 6 for one.) 1 stars
1/17/04 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) Definitely one of my top 3 favorite films of all time! It's fucking perfect!!!!! 5 stars
12/19/03 ROY L. CAIN,JR. The first Spike Lee joint to not feature too many black characters. Still a groovy pic. 5 stars
10/19/03 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) I don't know how Spike does it. Direction is brilliant. Surely among the best of his best. 5 stars
5/12/03 Jack Bourbon Eh. Don't care for it. 2 stars
3/19/03 Jack Sommersby Maddeningly uninvolving and unfocused. This talented cast deserves much better. 2 stars
10/24/02 Charles Tatum Spike can be as racist as the evil white man 1 stars
10/09/02 Kitfo anybody who calls spike lee self indulgent or pretentious should stick to hollywood drivel 5 stars
9/26/02 snowconehead Too much Leguizamo, not enough Sorvino 4 stars
7/18/02 Cris Abisale He Got Game is much better.Too much sex in this movie.Spike=Disappointment 2 stars
3/05/02 Alan Smithee Typical overrated Spike Lee bullshit. 1 stars
1/01/02 Andrew Carden Pretty Realistic Movie...I Didn't Like John Though. 4 stars
9/09/01 Butterbean A very underrated movie. It captured the effect of city-wide panic brilliantly 4 stars
7/29/01 Artist Freak Great performances, really pegs the 70s. Wide array of sex for a non-porn movie. 4 stars
6/29/01 See me Fly!!!! fuck this movie it's fucking hard to fucking understand, they say fuck every fucking second 2 stars
4/19/01 Socutejd This was an insult to serial killers 1 stars
4/17/01 Spetters Spikes best film yet!! Everything and everyone is great in this explosive film. 5 stars
3/12/01 RACHEL this movie was amazing, very well made, great images 5 stars
2/23/01 italian mobster i liked the music but i cant stand the fact that a fuckin nigger directed an italian film 2 stars
1/18/01 romayne charles John Lequizamos brilliant looks and acting made this film . 4 stars
12/06/00 AtlantaBill What the fuck? There is a talking dog in this movie! Spike Lee, you suck faggots. 1 stars
6/28/00 Bender Entertaining, if overlong. Plus the most use of the F word in a movie I've ever seen. 4 stars
6/24/00 Aaron White Best talking animal scene in film history. Sex scenes restored my will to live. 4 stars
3/10/00 Kyle Broflovski Blergh. I punctuated every scene with a hella yawn. BORING!!! 1 stars
3/09/00 Richard Wright Every noun is preceded by an F word and everyone is either a moron or a slut.Dig it,man.NOT 1 stars
1/21/00 node I found this to be very thought provoking. 4 stars
1/02/00 KK Should be renamed Summer of Idiots. Lee can't direct/act/write his way out of a paper bag. 1 stars
1/01/00 Tyson Stewart It's hot and bloody. Such a great story! 4 stars
11/29/99 Mic Not as good as Do The Right Thing, good nevertheless. "Sam" should've had less screen time. 4 stars
11/25/99 Frank Curigliano Riveting, disturbing, funny and painful. The best film of the year thus far. 5 stars
11/18/99 Matthew Smith Lee's best film since Do The Right Thing, Ambitious, bold and confronting. 5 stars
11/01/99 JonnyAngel this slut of a movie sucks and swallows 1 stars
9/11/99 Jason Kinsey a whirlwind of colorful images, thumps, & sounds-great 4 stars
8/10/99 Alisa Spike Lee shows no class in this film. he didn't even research this movie for truth. 1 stars
8/04/99 Tanya I'm being generous with the rating. Spike Lee making white people look ignorant again. 2 stars
8/03/99 Lola Jones Well put together. However, there were too many sex scenes.:) 4 stars
8/02/99 david napier best film of the summer, and love that leguizamo and lee was funny as the reporter 4 stars
8/01/99 Obi Wan This movie didn't do shit to me or for me...except waste my time! 2 stars
7/22/99 PhilmPhreak Annoying movie about annoying people - and what the fuck was Spike Lee's character? 2 stars
7/16/99 Jo Jo, The Idiot Circus Boy Horror? Movie? Where is the movie? 1 stars
7/12/99 ken heine the punk scene was cool. 2 stars
7/12/99 Ah Dooey Shoddy movie I ever saw. The movie had no substance and not any dialog. 3 stars
7/11/99 evil buffy intrigued by the cinematography; look and sound made up for plot weaknesses. good acting 4 stars
7/10/99 M. Donnelly Quite well done. I really was able to get pissed off at some of the characters. 5 stars
7/09/99 P.S.O.K It wasn't as good as thought it was gonna be 3 stars
7/09/99 bridgette adrien brody-good; everyone else-ok; editing-HORRIBLE. can we say porn? 2 stars
7/07/99 Brian M honest characterizations, bizarro editing and fab music 4 stars
7/07/99 Daddy Rich Spike Lee; what more can you say? 5 stars
7/07/99 Mr showbiz Spike Lee's latest is a triumph of style... and little else. 2 stars
7/06/99 sydney awesome! 5 stars
7/06/99 Malbert Worst piece of crap I've ever seen 1 stars
7/05/99 jvt Overlong, pretentious crap with stereotypical "characters" 1 stars
7/05/99 johntidal a demented bad ass flick with great act that intensifies the terrrror 5 stars
7/04/99 ALiaS WOW!!! Spike Lee has proven that he is diverse enough to do a dark movie!!!! Kudos brother! 5 stars
6/16/99 David A subtle masterpiece; ambitious tale of ordinary lives affected by social paranoia. Great!! 5 stars
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Directed by
  Spike Lee

Written by
  Spike Lee

  John Leguizamo
  Adrien Brody
  Anthony LaPaglia
  Jennifer Esposito
  John Savage
  Bebe Neuwirth

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