Summer Night: Coming of Age in California

Harnony (Victoria Justice) in Summer Night. Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Summer Night is a coming-of-age story about finding love in a small Northern California town towards the last days of the summer.

While the evening’s headliner is a concert at The Alamo, just about everyone is dealing with something going into the night.  On the one hand, we have Jameson (Ellar Coltrane) torn between Harmony (Victoria Justice) and Corin (Elena Kampouris).  Yeah, there’s certainly something going on here when Jameson isn’t completely over Corin.  I’m not about to get into Jameson’s dating history when there’s so much going on!  Meanwhile, Seth (Ian Nelson) learsns some major news from girlfriend Mel (Analeigh Tipton).  How Seth reacts to this news could see him ending up in the doghouse.

While Jameson and Seth get the bulk of screen time, everyone else isn’t being ignored.  Taylor (Callan McAuliffe) is beaten up early on in the woods and meets Dana (Ella Hunt).  It’s one of the odder meet-cutes in recent times but we’ll go ahead and go with it.  In a film with a smaller ensemble, we would be able to get to know them better.  The script is wise to slowly reveal some pertinent information.  Still, I would certainly have liked to have gotten to know them better.  Huge ensembles otherwise mean that the film has to sacrifice something.  In this case, it means we are not able to know the characters better.

If you’re coming here to expect a major role from Lana Condor (To All The Boys I’ve Loved), you can forget it.  Her character, Lexi, is more or less of a supporting role at best.  Her character and Jack “Rabbit” (Bill Milner) are dealing with some drama.  Again, this is what is most disappointing about films with large ensembles.  While everything works here to to serve the purpose of the story, that does not mean one can’t understandably come off feeling a little disappointed.

This film contains a huge ensemble cast with just about everyone converging at the evening’s concert.  It’s a film that lives up to its name by promising us a summer night so to speak.  Joseph Cross’ directorial debut isn’t a game changer for the genre by any means.  The film works as less of a romantic comedy than it does a bunch of young folks in their twenties having fun.  While we’ve seen plenty of films about the latter, Jordan Jolliff’s screenplay does what it can to stand apart from the rest.

Summer Night is a film about growing up at its core.  There just happens to be a lot of things that must happen along the way.

DIRECTOR:  Joseph Cross
SCREENWRITER:  Jordan Jolliff
CAST: Ellar Coltrane, Ian Nelson, Analeigh Tipton, Callan McAuliffe, Ella Hunt, Hayden Szeto, Bill Milner, Lana Condor, Elena Kampouris, Khris Davis, Melina Vidler, with Victoria Justice and Justin Chatwin

Samuel Goldwyn Films opens Summer Night in theaters and VOD on July 12, 2019. Grade: 3/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.