Thursday, September 26, 2013

Corvette Summer

Plucky young, wrong-side-of-the-tracks teen Kenny Dantley (Mark Hamill) inspires his high school advanced auto-shop class to rebuild a junked Stingray into a foxy fine, candy-apple, metal flake, flames up the side, custom Corvette, that promptly gets stolen. Following a wild lead to Vegas, our hero teams up with teenage prostitute Vanessa (Annie Potts) to hunt down the car he loves so unnaturally well. It was the Summer of ’78. It was hot. It was dangerous. It was partly cloudy with a slight chance of precipitation in the evening. It was: a Corvette Summer.
  • In Empire Strikes Back, Mark Hamill unknowingly kisses his sister. In Corvette Summer, he knowingly kisses his mother, a bit too long, on purpose. = -20pts 
  • What do you call a haircut that’s all mullet, front and back? Is there such a thing? Mark Hamill rocks it. = +6pts 
  • Trying to establish a character’s loneliness, but only establishing creepiness, by having him wander around watching random couples kissing. = -3pts 
  • Who the hell shot this thing? Too much glare on screen! Oh, wait, our blinds are open. = -2pts 
  • Giving your underage shop student alcohol at night, alone in a dark garage. = -10pts 
  • Not knowing the difference between wine and scotch. = -3pts 
  • Having the balls to build on the premise that a high school shop class could have raised enough money to customize the bitchin’est disco-tastic hot rod the screen has ever seen. = +25pts 
  • You let Danny Bonaduce drive your car and you’re surprised that something bad happened to it? = -12pts 
  • Is “I don’t want no Cokes!” the most ironic line Mark Hamill delivered in the ‘70s? = +12pts 
  • Things that happened everyday in the ‘70s: Being picked up while hitch-hiking by a promiscuous young woman driving a tricked-out love van, complete with waterbed. = +20pts
  •  Discovering that the young woman has the whiny voice of Annie Potts. = -7pts 
  • We think Toby Maguire based his Fear and Loathing hitch-hiker on Mark Hamill in this movie. = +8pts 
  • Discovering an old junk yard full of giant Vegas casino signs. = +7pts 
  • Telling a kid who gets thrown, shirtless, out of a hooker’s van, “I like your style!” = +13pts 
  • Mark Hamill’s Corvette Summer, a.k.a., the summer he didn’t wash his hair. = +5pts 
  • Every time you felt the bittersweet pang of love in the ‘70s: French horn solo! = +6pts 
  • Mark Hamill springs naked out of the top of a van, sings “Love is a Many Splendored Thing.” Somewhere, across the universe, a tiny, moldy alien twirls its wee claws and says, “Yes! YES!!!” = +20pts 
  • Mark Hamill’s mother moves without telling him, plays practical joke by leaving behind the burnt out shell of her trailer, a couple of charred mannequins, and some Jawa carcasses. = -3pts 
  • Let’s pause here to honor and appreciate the Internet’s “Unofficial Corvette Summer Website,” complete with multimedia such as screen captures from a VHS recording. = +12pts 
  • Escaping from car thieves by busting a window and then hiding in a barrel full of oil when you could have just EXITED THROUGH THE WINDOW YOU BUSTED. = -17pts 
  • 1978 – The last year people living in parking lot vans weren’t afraid to open their doors in the middle of the night to anyone who knocked? = -3pts 
  • A Theremin is introduced into the score – this does not bode well. Head back to the French horn, Kenny! Remember the French horn! = -2pts 
  • So, Kenny makes $850.00 a week working with car thieves. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator (not made up!) that’s $3,249.01 per week in today’s dollars, which means he’d be making $168,948.52 non-taxable dollars per year. In other words, fuck our current jobs, we’re becoming car thieves! = +10pts 
  • Worst apology for beating someone with a chain, ever: “Hey man, I’m real sorry about that thing …you know, with the chain thing. Sorry about that.” = +7pts 
  • When Brion James, the guy who played Leon in Blade Runner, looks at you like you’re freaking him out, you might have a coke problem. = -6pts 
  • Once again, Kenny demonstrates his intelligence by having access to the Corvette, all night, by himself, with the shop keys, and deciding to wait around until morning so he can throw hammers and spanners at the bad guys instead of just taking off with the car. = -13pts 
  • Kidnapping your girlfriend, involving her in a potentially fatal car chase, driving her to a different city where she doesn’t have any spare clothes, money, a place to live, or a car. = -22pts 
  • Sure, Kenny could have returned the Corvette to the high school shop and handed the keys to the principal, but it made more sense for him to drive the car up to the front steps of the school and break the fire alarm. = +3pts 
  • Well, Kenny, you didn’t send any of the bad guys to jail, or kill them, and they know your name and where you’re from, so, um, it was good knowing you, Kenny. = - 1pt
Total Score = +30pts
Available on:Amazon, TCM (some Tuesday, 2 a.m., in your future)

Watching Corvette Summer, we realized that most Hollywood coming-of-age movies aren’t actually about growing up, they’re about perpetuating adolescent fantasies of what it will be like to suddenly become an adult. Let’s take another Mark Hamill film – oh, let’s say Star Wars, wherein becoming an adult means accepting that you have magical powers, blowing up spaceships, and saving the galaxy. In Corvette Summer, doing the adult thing has something to do with having the guts to steal your dream car and wooing the heart of a prostitute. Both of those scenarios are pretty awesome, but do they prepare us for the real world? It’s no wonder American males are so screwed up. The night we turned 18, we didn’t get Jedi powers or even get laid - we found ourselves puking in the bathroom of a Boston pizza parlor, and what suddenly spewed onto the floor sure wasn’t adulthood. We suggest that coming-of-age movies not be rated based on the amount of swear words, boobies, or gore they contain, but on the quality of the delusions the filmmakers are trying to sell. For Star Wars, mastering Jedi powers is a nice delusion, so let’s give that a PG, for pretty great, but some parental guidance is suggested to keep kids from developing a penchant for cosplay. As you’d expect of Corvette Summer, it gets an X, for xtra problematic perspectives on how to relate to women, anger management, and vehicular maintenance, or maybe it should really get an R, as in, young viewers R going to develop emotional hang-ups.

Score Technician: Alex Pearlstein


  1. Is Annie Potts wearing swim fins in the movie poster? Is there any explanation for this? Doesn't seem like there's a lot of snorkeling in Las Vegas.

  2. Yes, towards the end of the movie [spoiler!] Mark Hamill "rescues" Annie Potts from a Vegas hotel room, where she is in a bathtub, dressed as a mermaid, making some extra cash in an amateur dirty film. She is very upset, and kicks and screams at him as he forcibly carries her all the way to his car. In the poster, she's all "Wheeee!" But in the movie, she's really all "@#$%#%!" I think it's supposed to be romantic.