Several “Saturday Night Live” alumni gather together in the new film ‘Staten Island Summer’. Now available to view on Netflix this comedy tells the story of five slacker life guards planning the ultimate end of summer party before one of them, the young and innocent Danny Campbell, leaves them all for Harvard. Crazy characters, sexy women, alcohol, and weed will make it a summer party to remember, if they can just figure out how to deal with their incompetent and dictator like boss Chuck.
Written by Colin Jost who wrote for “Saturday Night Live” and directed by SNL producer and director Rhys Thomas, ‘Staten Island Summer’ tries hard to obtain laughs with funny characters and screwy calamities but too often over reaches into ridiculousness and feels a little too familiar to many other teen comedies. With a cast, made up of a combination of relative unknowns and SNL celebrities, the roles are surprisingly well acted. New comer Graham Phillips portrays Danny Campbell as the ideal shy nice guy surrounded by goofballs he’s proud to call friends. Notably the straight man of the film he doesn’t show much emotion except for fear and awkwardness when talking to girls or even the father of a specific girl he lusts over. Viewers will find Danny easy to identify with, and easy to root for. Zack Pearlman plays Frank, Danny’s obnoxious and vulgar best friend. As Frank, Zack delivers hilarious lines when insulting someone, or pushing his friends, and his reaction to his adventures are funny, but Frank’s character’s intolerably a jerk. Although a good friend, you never really get to actually like Frank. If viewers are not suppose to like Frank through out the entire film, than the writers did a superb job. If viewers are suppose to grow to like him, than the writers dropped the ball. Cecily Strong brings both the humor and adorableness in tomboy form as Mary Ellen, the only female lifeguard. John Delude delivers the handsome yet brainless role of Anthony, a very stereotypical stud with the stereotypical New York attitude. Rounding out the life guards is Bobby Moynihan who plays the over the top aged drunk stoner Skootch. Moynihan, while having a few humorous moments, seems out of place in a role viewers have seen over and over again in other films. Several other surprise actors make appearances, like Gina Gershon as a drunk single mother, Fred Armisen as an over the top maintenance man obviously channeling Bill Murray from “Caddyshack”, and Ashley Greene as the beautiful and untouchable dream girl Krystal Manicucci.
There are numerous laughs in the film, unfortunately there are numerous fails as well. Some scenes that are meant to be hilarious are overblown and just silly. Exploits with the boss Chuck are not at all funny, just moronic, as are most of the things Chuck lets his employees get away with. Age is a character problem that isn’t addressed by writer Colin Jost. While Anthony, Frank, and Danny’s plans at the end of the summer reveal they are at least eight-teen, other characters ages like Mary Ellen’s isn’t revealed but she looks older. Is she suppose to be the same as the three young life guards, or is she older? If so, it feels weird that she’s into throwing this party with such younger friends. The character of Krystal Manicucci is actually shown to be a few years older and more experienced, which just makes it unbelievable that she would hang out with Danny and his friends. When the film tries to turn sentimental displaying an outburst from Frank how it’s important to spend the last weekend with his best friend Danny before he goes off to Harvard, it feels like the exact same scene from the film “Superbad”, yet severely lacking emotion.
‘Staten Island Summer’ is another teen comedy romp that has several actors who try hard to make viewers laugh and care about their characters. Unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot that treats viewers to anything new, or even original. It isn’t the worst teen comedy in a world full of them, but it is far from the best. It’s worth seeing for a few laughs, if you’re into the obnoxious over the top jokes. It’s even worth viewing just to see the talent of Cecily Strong as she begins her staring power in film. If you prefer your films with more contained comedy and actual sentimentality, then you’ll find this film mindless and deadpan.