I so wanted to like this movie. James Ponsoldt directed ‘End of the Tour!’ I loved that movie! So, I went in knowing I would love this, too. That’s not fair, though. One should go in with an open mind and have no expectations, not compare one film to another.
With that out of the way, I have to inform you that I see the movie “Summering” as “Stand By Me” with the opposite gender. The movie has a lot in common with the film based on Stephen King’s story “The Body,” which was in his book, “Different Seasons.” Here, four 11-year-old girls find themselves in their last week before middle school starts. They’re about to leave their childhood behind. More will be expected of them. Can they handle what’s coming their way?
This coming-of-age tale has the girls, Dina (Madalen Mills), Lola (Sanai Victoria), Daisy (Lia Barnett) and Mari (Eden Grace Redfield), visiting their favorite tree named Terabithia. When they visit the tree, which they see as their friend, they leave trinkets and hope for the best for the tree and for each of them. Terabithia is a well-known movie and novel they’ve no doubt seen and read a million times.
This visit brings something different. The girls find a body lying beneath the bridge, near their shrine. The bridge is referred to as ‘Suicide Bridge’ from the number of people who’ve used it to end their lives.
Why no one else has seen this body is beyond me, but the girls want to find out who this man was. They agree to keep everything to themselves, enjoying the mystery of it all and hoping to give the man’s family the gift of his return.
Myself, I’d think they’d run screaming to the nearest adult. Apparently, they’re much tougher than I would have been in this situation… even today! They make a pact to keep coming back and do some detective work… ‘Do what’s on those cop shows.’ They keep his death all to themselves.
When they go home, who they are as individuals is revealed. What they’re dealing with without their friends is exposed. Some have a good rapport with their parents and some do not. Why they need to give this man a proper send-off seems to come from the relationships they have with their own family members. Some are good, some are bad. By the movie’s end, they bring their mothers together, who need friends as much as the girls do. Long ago, their moms lost what being friends with someone meant.
You might enjoy the movie if you can make it through a poorly developed story that tries desperately to make these youngsters holistic detectives. “Summering” should have instead focused on one storyline, the girls themselves, without being a murder mystery that brought about silly dialogue and an outlandish adventure that had you checking out almost immediately. I liked the ending where the girls bury all their trinkets, signifying that they’re moving on. Still, sadly, the audience will be moving on from the film because the writing was unbelievable and underwhelming from the start.
Director: James Ponsoldt
Written by: James Ponsoldt & Benjamin Percy
Starring: Lia Barnett, Lake Bell, Sarah Cooper, Ashley Madekwe, Madalen Mills, Megan Mullally, Eden Grace Redfield, Sanai Victoria
Runtime: 1h 27m
Producers: P. Jennifer Dana, Peter Block, James Ponsoldt
Distributor: Bleecker Street
In Theatres Nationwide Friday, August 12, 2022