Summer Fantasy (1984) A tender made-for-television story aimed at teenage girls, mismarketed as a sex comedy.

Theme Song: Peter Bernstein is the sole music credit despite the presence of a few original songs. No titles are given, so we’ll make some up.

“Summer’s Almost Here” — An upbeat number that plays over the opening credits.

“Summer’s Here” — A remix in the middle of the movie, which changes the lyrics and adds a different bridge/breakdown.

“Summer (Instrumental)” — Then there’s an instrumental over the closing credits! The producers really wanted to make sure they got their money’s worth out of this song.

“Dancefloor Synth Riffage” — Everyone in a bar dances to this song like they’ve just lost their goddamn minds hearing the best and sickest DJ on the planet.

Interesting Dated References: A man over 30 years old turning down the sexual advances of a 17-year-old girl; The social lives and inner-workings of California lifeguards prior to Baywatch making a mockery of their entire profession.

Best Line: Said with sincerity — “I want to go to art school.”

Social Context: We’re supposed to believe that 24-year-old Julianne Phillips is a 17-year-old high school student looking for love. This is difficult, given that at the time, Phillips was primarily known for dating, then marrying, New Jersey’s The Boss. Her title credit on the box art is even listed as, “Supermodel Julianne Phillips, Wife of Superstar Bruce Springsteen.”

Summary: Phillips plays Joanna, the aforementioned lovelorn teen. She sits on the beach with her friend Denise, draws charcoal portraits of cute lifeguards, and complains about not wanting to go to the medical school she was just accepted into.

At the behest of Carlisle, the sexy older lifeguard, she applies for lifeguard training and becomes the first female guard on the staff. This causes some drama with her mom (Dorothy Lyman), a doctor who wants her daughter following in her footsteps, and estranged father (Michael Gross, Cool As Ice, Tremors II: Aftershocks, Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, Tremors: The Series, Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, Tremors 5: Bloodlines). Summer Fantasy is full of half-hearted subplots, one of which involves her parents reconciling their divorce and sleeping together in an extremely graphic and violent fully-nude hardcore sex scene.

Despite what the box art makes you think, that’s the only scene of intimacy in the entire movie. Summer Fantasy is merely a tender, made-for-television, coming-of-age story aimed at teenage girls, which was mismarketed as a sex comedy.

Joanna is paired with the handsome Jackson (Paul Keenan, in his final film role before dying from complications related to HIV/AIDS) and the two begin dating. She then gets upset, they break up, she does poorly at her job, they get back together, her parents reconcile, Joanna and Jackson break up again, she does well at her job, summer ends, and Joanna decides she wants to go to art school so she can feel miserable and unfulfilled for the rest of her life and make shitty choices and be in a terrible amount of debt.

In the end, she and Jackson reconcile, but acknowledge she needs to find her own happiness at art school by doing low-grade acid and dropping out after the first semester.

Worth Mentioning:
– There’s a heavily-edited subplot involving Denise becoming a gold-digger and dating increasingly older and dangerous men.

– There’s another subplot about Jackson’s Meniere’s Disease, which gets a lot of screen time.

– Written by Rena Down, who wrote for the first (and only) season of Aaron’s Way, the fish-out-of-water Amish displacement family dramedy from 1988 that I vaguely remember watching once at my Grandma’s and have been looking for ever since. And, for the record, YouTube is fucking useless for old, obscure television series.

– The write-up on the back of the box blatantly lies and repeatedly references all the steamy sex contained on the tape.

– Julianne Phillips, Ted Shackelford, and Paul Keenen do well with the material and despite the misleading box art, make the movie enjoyable.

Poster and Box Art: The home video release of Summer Fantasy is a bald-faced, cash-in on the post-Porky’s/Revenge of the Nerds/Bachelor Party video market. Humans look like hot dogs, and any and all liquid substances shoot across the artwork with abandon. None of this happens in the movie, but good job to Sony for marketing it as such.

The original marketing materials from the television broadcast are more accurate. Romance, touching, holding, etc. But that’s not going to con troves of disappointed teenage boys into renting in order to check out The Boss’ wife (at the time).

Availability: Used VHS on Amazon.

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