Summer School appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. An erratic presentation, the movie varied from scene to scene but generally looked good.
Sharpness usually seemed acceptable. A little softness interfered on occasion, but those moments were reasonably rare. Most of the movie presented a fairly accurate and distinct image. Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no concerns, but some light edge enhancement periodically marred the presentation.
Shockingly, virtually no print flaws appeared, though you’d not expect such a clean presentation based on the movies opening moments. The credits presented intense grain, and parts of the flick offered heavier than usual grain as well. However, most seemed free of that issue, and otherwise, I noticed almost no instances of specks, marks or other defects. It’d look clean for a recent movie, so the absence of problems for one from made 20 years ago became especially pleasing.
Colors seemed erratic. They displayed the usual Eighties murkiness at times, but they also often looked nicely vibrant and distinct. For the most part, the hues came across as solid, though, especially during the many daytime exterior shots. Black levels tended to appear somewhat inky, while shadow detail was a little too dense at times. Interiors occasionally seemed flat and muddy. Really, the interiors caused the majority of the transfer’s concerns, as the outside images consistently looked much stronger. Most of Summer School actually looked very strong, but the various concerns seemed prominent enough to drop my grade to a “B“.
The film’s remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack added a little life to the original monaural material. Unsurprisingly, the mix featured a heavy emphasis on the forward channels. Music showed minor stereo separation, while effects displayed light breadth and delineation at times. All of this remained fairly vague, as not much about the placement or imaging seemed distinctive; the track stayed with general atmosphere and little else. The surrounds seemed virtually silent throughout the flick and never played an active role.
Audio quality came across as decent. Speech appeared fairly distinct and natural, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects sounded clean and accurate, but they usually lacked much in the way of dynamics. Music was somewhat thin and lackluster as well, as the flick’s score and Eighties source tunes seemed concise but not much better. I didn’t expect much from the audio of Summer School and I got what I anticipated from this fairly average mix.
How did the picture and audio of this 2007 “Life’s a Beach Edition” of Summer School compare to those of the prior DVD from 2004? Both releases seemed identical, as I thought the 2007 disc looked and sounded the same as its predecessor.
Whereas the old DVD came with no extras, the “Life’s a Beach Edition” also includes a decent mix of supplements. We begin with an audio commentary from director Carl Reiner and actor Mark Harmon. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific piece. They talk about cast and performances, locations, cut sequences and a mix of little anecdotes from the shoot.
That sounds like it should turn into a fun commentary. Unfortunately, this track remains pretty dull most of the time. Reiner and Harmon seem like nice guys, but they don’t tell us much about the movie. They chat about parts that they like and praise a lot of things. This means little actual information escapes, and we also come across a lot of dead air. The best notes come from Harmon, such as when he talks about how he re-broke his shoulder during the shoot. However, even those nuggets appear infrequently. Don’t expect much from this disappointing commentary.
Two featurettes follow. Inside the Teachers’ Lounge runs 14 minutes, 13 seconds as it mixes movie clips, archival materials and interviews. We hear from Harmon, Reiner, screenwriter Jeff Franklin and actors Ken Olandt, Patrick Labyorteaux, Robin Thomas, Kirstie Alley (from 1986), and Dean Cameron. We get info about the script and its development, how Reiner came onboard and his work on the set, casting, characters, and performances, and the movie’s legacy.
“Lounge” doesn’t qualify as a great program, but it’s enjoyable. It gives us a smattering of decent notes about the production and throws out enough good material to keep us involved. I’d like something more substantial, but this show will do.
Summer School Yearbook goes for 11 minutes, one second and includes Franklin, Cameron, Reiner, Olandt, Labyorteaux, and actors Kelly Minter (1986), Courtney Thorne Smith (1986), Richard Steven Horvitz (1986), Fabiana Udenio (1986) and Shawnee Smith (1986). This one looks at the high school kids, as we learn more about their casting and characters. It acts as a nice complement to “Lounge”, though again, it’s not a particularly full examination of the flick. It’s also a shame that so few of the actors returned to discuss the movie. Nonetheless, it’s worth a look.
We also get a Photo Gallery. It presents 24 images that mix shots from the flick and publicity stills. They’re almost all dull, though a couple of bikini glimpses of Fabiana Udenio spice things up a bit. We also discover the trailer for School.
While definitely a product of its era, Summer School nonetheless offers enough goofy fun to be a kick. The movie presents light and wacky fun to become a reasonably amusing piece. The DVD offers generally good picture with fairly average audio and extras. Fans of Eighties comedies should give Summer School a look.
Should folks who already own the old Summer School DVD double dip for this “Life’s a Beach Edition” of the film? Probably not, as the picture and sound remain the same, and the added supplements just aren’t that good. The commentary disappoints, and the other elements are fairly fluffy. If you don’t have the old disc, definitely go for this one, but I don’t think it’s worth repurchasing just for the extras.
To rate this film visit the original review of SUMMER SCHOOL