SXSW 2014: “Ping Pong Summer” – Review by MovieManMenzel

Ping Pong Summer We Live Film Review

The 80s are back and as cheesy as ever.

The year is 1985 and the Miracle family is heading to Ocean City, Maryland for their summer vacation. Rad Miracle (Marcello Conte) is a social outcast that loves two things in life: hip-hop music and ping pong. Over the vacation, Rad becomes friends with Teddy Fryy ( Myles Massey), another social outcast at a local arcade. One day, Rad and Teddy see Stacy Summers (Emmi Shockley) at their normal hangout and quickly yearns to capture her attention. While attempting to showcase his ping pong skills, Rad challenges a jock named Lyle Ace (Joseph McCaughtry) to a Ping Pong competition. The competition soon becomes the talk of Ocean City and so becomes a battle of brawn vs brains.

If you are a child of the eighties or raised children in that era, I can almost guarantee that you will experience some sort of nostalgia when watching Ping Pong Summer. As someone that grew up on the East Coast in the 80s, I related to this film and it made me feel like a kid again. I want everyone to know before I go deeper into this review that Ping Pong Summer is not something that will never be hailed as a cinematic gem. It is a coming of age tale that looks and feels as if it was actually made in 1985. There is nothing original about the film, but instead plays as a homage to the eighties as well as summer vacations at the beach.

In my eyes, Ping Pong Summer was almost like a parody of coming of age films from the 1980s. The music, setting, costumes, and dialogue all match the decade perfectly. Summer never tries to be taken seriously or stand out from your standard 80s fare. It is always lighthearted and had several moments that made laugh out loud. Summer plays by the rules and is as predictable as coming of age films come. The characters are typical and cliches are all here. The script written by Michael Tully just embraces these elements and uses them to move the story along. I think many will complain that the film is too basic, but I saw that as the point. It’s suppose to have the hot girl, the jock, the nerds, and everyone else that you would see in an 80s teen flick because its celebrating a simpler time.

Ping Pong Summer We Live Film Review 2

There are several throwbacks within Summer including boomboxes, Casey Kasem, and slurpees that made me smile. The dialogue is cringe worthy but it is exactly how kids in the 80s talked. The best moments of the entire film, however, is when Lyle Ace and Dale Lyons (Andy Riddle) are on-screen. Every time these two bullies were a part of the story, the cheese factor went up about ten notches. They were so over the top and their dialogue was hilariously bad. There was one line about a deli that was such a what the fuck moment that I couldn’t help but burst out laughing.

For as much as I enjoyed Ping Pong Summer, I do have some complaints. While I didn’t mind that the film followed the standard coming of age story-line, it didn’t flow together as well as it should have. There are a lot of moments within Summer that felt rather pointless. I can understand having scenes that trigger memories of the eighties, but there are others that add nothing to the film. There are also a lot of montages, transitions, and poor editing throughout the film. The montages in the beginning were fine but felt overused as the film went on. The transitions and editing from one scene to the next isn’t always smooth and came off as a tad bit sloppy at times.

All in all, Ping Pong Summer will be a tough sell to most modern audiences. I think a lot of critics will argue that the film’s formulaic and predictable script make it a very average watch, while anyone under the age of 23 may not fully appreciate the film. Summer is a throwback to the cheesiness of the 1980s and it succeeds at doing just that. I took the film for what it was and enjoyed the ride. It is entertaining, fun, and most importantly brought me back to a simpler time. If you are looking for a coming of age tale plays as a homage to so many of those eighties classics then I think you will be entertained throughout and will leave the theater with a pretty big smile as Ping Pong Summer comes to a close.

MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Ping Pong Summer is 8 out of 10.

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