Film / Summer School

Summer School is a 1987 comedy film about, well, summer school. The film stars Mark Harmon as a slacker teacher prepared for a summer in Hawaii...Until the school administration forces him to teach a class in remedial English or lose his tenure. When he discovers the students have no more interest in the class than he does, he strikes a bargain with them. Hilarity Ensues. Better known now for its young cast, many of whom went on to bigger roles. Written by Jeff Franklin and original score by Danny Elfman.

Interestingly, this film was cited by a group of interviewees in the 2014 documentary Why Horror?, who credited their careers in makeup F/X to having been inspired by the gory prank Chainsaw and Dave pull on a substitute teacher.

Some tropes associated with the film include:

  • Apathetic Teacher: Shoop, a PE teacher who took a job in order to have summers off.
  • Asleep in Class: Larry nods off repeatedly at his desk. It's later revealed that he's been working long nights as a stripper for a ladies' nightclub. Once he's fired he starts actually remaining conscious, albeit randy, in class.
  • Big Bad: Vice Principal Gillis, of the non-villainous, Jerk Ass Has A Point type common to high school movies in The '80s. Sure, it's a disappointment that Shoop can't go on vacation, but all the Jerk Ass really wants Shoop to do is what he's supposed to do, and that's teach a class.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Subverted in a cute way when the dog joins in.
  • Big "NO!": Chainsaw delivers one just before the class is supposed to take the all-important end-of-term exam.
    Chainsaw: Tension breaker. Had to be done.
    Mr. Shoop: Anyone else?
  • Book Dumb: All the kids in Remedial English, who have varying reasons to be there.
  • Brick Joke: On the first day of summer school, Jerome asks to be excused to go to bathroom. He disappears from the movie. Six weeks later, he comes back for finals and gets highest marks in the class.
    Shoop: Where have you been all summer?
    Jerome: Bathroom.
  • Creator Cameo: Director Carl Reiner as the teacher who wins a lottery and quits, leaving the school in the lurch and Shoop on the hook.
  • Foreign Exchange Student: Beautiful Anna-Maria, from Italy.
  • Hot Teacher: Shoop, to the girls in the class, especially Pam, who ultimately fails at a Teacher/Student Romance. Justified, as it's Mark Harmon, who had been voted People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive a year before. Ms. Bishop counts, too.
  • L Is for Dyslexia: Denise. She tries to cover her poor academic performance with a Sassy Black Woman persona, but it eventually comes out.
  • Lovable Jock : Kevin, an all-around Nice Guy who helps Rhonda with her Lamaze.
  • Nerd: Alan. An unusual example of the Hollywood Nerd, in that he's average looking (not attractive and geeked-down) and a poor academic achiever.
  • No Periods, Period: Played with. When Pam ditches school to go surfing, she blames her absence on a "woman thing." Chainsaw then gripes that women have it made, causing Denise to go on a rant about how much the "woman thing" sucks.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Shoop lets Pam move in with him; although it's portrayed as platonic, Robin is appalled.
  • Scary Black Man: A mild version in Jerome, the football player who insists he's there by mistake. Turns out to be a Genius Bruiser when he earns the highest mark in the class, after spending six weeks in the bathroom.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Rhonda is there because she's pregnant and her grades have fallen.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Gillis gets the chance to give a good one to Shoop when the latter takes the kids to an amusement park instead of class. Robin gives one to him when she finds out about Pam living with him.
  • Wild Teen Party: The class holds one at Shoop's apartment, resulting in a couch fire.