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Michael Tully
Marcello Conte, Myles Massey, Emmi Shockley, Lea Thompson, Susan Sarandon, John Hannah, Amy Sedaris
Writing Credits:
Michael Tully

A family vacation during the summer of 1985 changes everything for a teenage boy obsessed with ping pong.

Not Rated

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English Dolby Stereo 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 8/5/2014

• Audio Commentary with Director Michael Tully and Producer George Rush
• “Lazer Beach: The Making of Ping Pong Summer” Featurette
• Previews and Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Ping Pong Summer [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 23, 2014)

One sign you’re getting old: when the days of your youth turn into fodder for nostalgia. That’s what we find with 2014’s Ping Pong Summer, a look back to the hazy days of 1985.

Shy teenager Rad Miracle (Marcello Conte) goes to Ocean City, Maryland for a summer vacation with his parents (John Hannah and Lea Thompson) and older sister Michelle (Helena May Seabrook). At the beach, Rad explores his love of rap music and ping pong with new friend Teddy Fryy (Myles Massey) and also indulges in a crush on Stacy Summers (Emmi Shockley). Rad’s interest in table tennis leads to an intense competition with arrogant preppy Lyle Ace (Joseph McCaughtry), an occasion for which he relies on tutelage from local oddball Randi Jammer (Susan Sarandon).

I grew up fairly close to Ocean City and was a teenager in 1985, so although I didn’t go to tourist trap much, I should connect to this film pretty easily. If I can’t muster nostalgia about my own teen years and local territory, there’s something wrong.

Unfortunately, Summer does nothing to stir fond memories of my youth – or many other positive thoughts, as the movie becomes a major mess. One hopes that the mix of veteran actors like Sarandon, Hannah, Thompson, Amy Sedaris and Judah Friedlander would elevate the project, especially when matched with first-timers such as Conte, Massey and Seabrook.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t occur, as the established performers seem out of place. The kids show little to no talent and drag down the others. They just don’t know how to create convincing work, and the veterans don’t get enough room to elevate them, so we wind up with a hole at the center of the film since the actors fall short of their goals.

Most of the time, Summer just feels like a melange of inspirations. We get some of the awkward quirkiness of Napoleon Dynamite as well as “coming of age” material ala The Way Way Back and some spoofing of Karate Kid and other 80s fare. The movie usually takes on a fairly formless feel, so these different elements fail to connect in a meaningful way.

Actually, I wouldn’t mind a movie without great narrative focus, as that makes some sense for a tale about a kid’s summer. However, Summer packs in so many disparate elements in such an awkward manner that it feels like someone used a weed-whacker to edit it. The film goes from one concept to another with little logic and never fits together in a smooth manner.

This leaves us with an odd, less than entertaining experience. Summer rarely makes a lick of sense, as though it creators took an assortment of story concepts, threw them in a sack, pulled them out at random and made them into a script. Too disjointed and too amateurish, Ping Pong Summer gives us a pointless stab at vague nostalgia with no core to keep it together.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C+/ Bonus C+

Ping Pong Summer appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Shot on 16mm, Summer looked decent but suffered from the limitations of that format.

Sharpness was acceptable. The movie rarely mustered strong clarity, but it usually showed good accuracy, with only occasional instances of softness. The image lacked shimmering or moiré effects, and I saw no edge haloes. Due to the 16mm source, the movie tended to look rather grainy, but it lacked print flaws like specks or marks.

Colors tended toward a somewhat airy, gauzy feel to fit the nostalgia. The hues offered fairly positive representation but didn’t seem especially dynamic. Blacks were acceptably dark, and shadows showed reasonable smoothness. Given the original photography, the image was fine.

As for the film’s Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack, it came with a fairly low-key orientation one would expect from a character comedy like this. Music showed nice spread to the side and rear channels, and occasional effects broadened out as well. These didn’t create a dynamic sense of place or movement, but they added a little involvement to the experience.

Audio quality seemed satisfactory. Speech was consistently concise, and intelligible, without edginess or other issues, and effects appeared accurate enough. Those elements didn’t have much to do, but they came across fine. Music worked best, with pretty good clarity and range. This was an acceptable mix for the story.

When we move to extras, we locate an audio commentary from director Michael Tully and producer George Rush. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific look at cast and performances, sets and locations, the film’s inspirations and autobiographical elements, period components and references, music, story/characters and related areas.

Overall, this becomes a good little chat. Tully and Rush manage to cover the appropriate topics most of the time and they do so in a reasonably concise, likable manner. They never answer “the big question” – ie, how they landed so many well-known actors for an obscure project like this – but they still deliver a positive commentary.

Lazer Beach: The Making of Ping Pong Summer runs 14 minutes, two seconds and offers notes from production sound mixer Alex Altman, head makeup artist Rondi Scott, production assistant Ahmed Chopra, swing Mike Arbin, art director Bob Weisz, 1st assistant camera John David Devirgiliis, 2nd 2nd AD Drew Bourdet, hair department head Sherri Bramlett, boom operator Steve Saada, producer Ryan Zacarias, electrician Mac Cushing and actors Emmi Shockley, Judah Friedlander, John Hannah, Lea Thompson, Helena Seabrook, Gibril Wilson, and Marcello Conte.

“Beach” looks at shooting in Ocean City, cast and performances, the atmosphere on the set, and related elements. Much of “Beach” feels more like a production diary than anything else, and it comes with some good glimpses of the shoot. We don’t get a lot of substance, but it becomes a breezy enough piece.

The disc opens with ads for Rob the Mob, Stuck in Love, Parts Per Billion, and Charlie Countryman. We also get a trailer for Summer.

Going into Ping Pong Summer, I hoped to find a warm, witty nostalgic comedy. Instead, I located an amateurish, formless exercise in pointlessness. The Blu-ray gives us acceptable picture and audio along with some decent supplements. Even if you long for memories of your youth, Summer lacks merit.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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