There are movies that come along that are really hard to figure out, but not because they are complicated. It’s usually because they are so bizarre or filled with strange characters that it becomes an acquired taste. The latest that seems to fall in this category is Ping Pong Summer that stars Susan Sarandon, Lea Thompson, Amy Sedaris, Judah Friedlander, and John Hannah, but does it work or is it just too out there to deliver the right serve?
Ping Pong Summer follows a shy 13-year-old white kid in 1985 who's obsessed with two things: ping pong and hip hop. During his family's annual summer vacation to Ocean City, Maryland, he makes a new best friend, experiences his first real crush, becomes the target of rich, racist local bullies, and finds an unexpected mentor in his outcast next-door neighbor. This is a hard movie to review as it is pretty out there on numerous levels. The performances from the kids are over the top and reminiscent of all the 80s films like this, but hard to tell if it is on purpose or just bad actors. Either way it actually works in a bizarre way creating a series of characters that manage to entertain. Most of the well-known cast in the film have smaller roles, with some just cameos, the real stars of the film are the kids. Every one of them is a bit strange, even the seemingly normal ones, but the strangest being the bully kids henchmen who sports some of the most bizarre facial expressions and dialogue in some time. The story to this film is pretty much the same thing as the Karate Kid, with a touch of Napolean Dynamite thrown in for good measure. There is no reason a film this silly should work and that is exactly why they most likely went the strange route to help it stand out. The most entertaining thing here is watching the lead kid played by Marcello Conte and his awkward break dancing sequences that are sprinkled throughout. The music is awesome and for those that grew up during this time will get that nostalgic feeling of parachute pants and gold chins taking you back to a cheesier simpler time.
They have nailed everything 80s visually to make for a fun throwback film that is one you might find baffling, but entertaining all at once. If you are looking for a film that stands out on its own yet gives you that feel of your childhood then check this film out and have a fun bizarre time.