Review by Camden Ferrell
Summerland is the debut film of the directing duo, Lankyboy, which consists of directors Kurtis David Harder and Noah Kentis. This is a quirky take on the young adult road trip genre, but this movie ultimately suffers from its occasionally bland humor and unfulfilling narrative.
Bray, Oliver, and Stacey are friends who decide to embark on a journey to the titular music festival. Bray has plans to meet with a boy he met on an online dating site because he believes this boy might be questioning his sexuality. The problem is that Bray has been catfishing this boy by pretending to be Stacey. It’s teen movie with an interesting twist that is unorthodox if nothing else, but the movie doesn’t make the most of its premise.
The script, written by Chris Ball, Dylan Griffiths, Harder, and Kentis, is decent in some spots, but it’s very inconsistent. There are occasionally really sweet and authentic moments between the main characters, but it is typically undermined by some out of place humor that feels too cheesy to make sense within the context of the movie. It’s not a bad script, but it doesn’t provide a strong foundation on which the rest of the movie is to be built.
The acting in this movie is fairly decent throughout. Ball, in addition to his writing credit, plays Bray, and he is a somewhat decent lead, but there are scenes in which he doesn’t feel the most natural, and it stands out. Alongside Ball, Rory J. Saper and Maddie Phillips play Oliver and Stacey. Saper is a decent supporting actor that plays well off of Ball, but Phillips gives a great performance that stands out as the film’s best. She has great timing and a screen presence that is distinct amongst the cast.
The film tackles concepts of sexuality and human connection, but it’s surface level at best. It doesn’t do much to explore the mindset of Bray and his dilemma, but it treats the situation without much depth. It’s a unique take that isn’t fully explored or expounded upon much. While it’s nice to see underrepresented characters, there isn’t much nuance in its exploration of sexuality.
It’s yet another road trip movie that doesn’t do much to feel super original in the end. It squanders an interesting premise but follows a pretty formulaic narrative that is too similar to many other coming of age films. It has its sweet moments, but the stakes are never made out to be anything substantial. While it’s interesting to see how Bray addresses his problem, it’s not entirely satisfying.
More than anything, this movie has charm but leaves you feeling unfulfilled. Its extremely brief runtime doesn’t allow for a proper conclusion, and a lot of it feels rushed. It’s a film that will appeal to the young adult demographic, but it won’t have much success with other age groups. It’s a decent film, but it’s a little too shallow for me.
Summerland has the charm, and it has the fun premise, but it doesn’t amount to much. It’s a nice showcase for Phillips, but it’s a half-enjoyable film that’s over quickly and might be forgotten just as soon. Younger audiences might enjoy this coming of age film, but it may not appeal to others.
Summerland is currently available on VOD.