film reel image

film reel image

Friday, January 13, 2023

White Water Summer 1987 * * * Stars


"Do your best". So says Kevin Bacon's Vic in 1987's White Water Summer. Vic does meditation, hates radios, and gets his groove on by being a ticking time bomb. White Water Summer the movie? Well it does its "best" to be a hidden, 80s gem. 

Anyway I remember seeing "Summer" on TV a lot during my teen years. It was like the first film I ever viewed that couldn't find a wide release in theaters. Strange. Back then direct-to-video didn't really exist so White Water Summer was kind of the pioneer of it all. Four or five actors, plenty of wildlife scenery, some unforced violence, a big-arse knife, and alpha dog conflict. "Summer" strays from most pics of the "Greed decade" as it ditches the neon hues and all things "radical" and goes straight for the Swiss Family Robinson jugular. 

White Water Summer with its locales of Quebec, New Zealand, and Northern California, doesn't push its cinematography too much. There's no need. I mean there is just enough lush background to give its characters a chance to emote and chop logic. With one F-word, some uneasy innuendo, and plenty of other suggestive language inserts, "Summer" is a hard-hitting teen drama, a hard PG, and a study of rattled, authoritarian presumptions. The film's load is only lightened when co-star Sean Astin shows up to talk smack in a few flash-forward sequences. 

With a perfectly cast Astin and a perfectly cast (and edgy) Kevin Bacon, White Water Summer is about a wilderness guide who takes four boys into the mountains via some sort of Mother Earth survival camp. "Summer" minus the occasional dodging of badlands cheese, is wholly original, mano a mano ironic, and entertaining enough for repeat viewings. Just sit back, relax, and ogle as Bruce Hornsby's soundtrack pumps in the background. 

Written by Jesse Burleson

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