summer school

Summer School (film)

Summer School is a 1987 film directed by Carl Reiner about the travails of a high school gym teacher who is forced to teach a remedial English class for a bunch of maladjusted goof-off students. It stars Mark Harmon, Kirstie Alley, and Courtney Thorne-Smith. The original music score was composed by Danny Elfman.


The movie begins with the last day of school before summer vacation. The gym teacher, Mr. Freddy Shoop (Mark Harmon), could not care less about his job and is ready to vacation in Hawaii with his young girlfriend, Kim. Meanwhile, a group of students including easily distracted Pam (Courtney Thorne-Smith), 'nocturnal' Larry, who happens to be a male stripper (Ken Olandt), football jock Kevin (Patrick Labyorteaux), pregnant Rhonda (Shawnee Smith), geeky Alan (Richard Steven Horvitz), dyslexic Denise (Kelly Jo Minter) and two Texas Chain Saw Massacre-obsessed underachievers, Dave (Gary Riley) and Francis 'Chainsaw' Grimp (Dean Cameron), get called down to the office by the Vice-Principal, Phil Gills (Robin Thomas), and are informed that they all failed and have to go to summer school for remedial English.

The original remedial English teacher (played by director Carl Reiner), however, wins the lottery and immediately quits teaching. Phil has no choice but to give the job to Shoop. Shoop reluctantly takes it and Kim goes off to Hawaii without him. On the first day Shoop meets Ms. Robin Bishop (Kirstie Alley), who is teaching next door. Shoop falls head over heels for her, but she is already dating Phil. Shoop's first day is a disaster and most of the students ditch and one 'goes to the lavatory' (Duane Davis). Phil comes in and brings in the beautiful new Italian transfer student, Anna-Maria (Fabiana Udenio), who will be learning English as well, much to the delight of Dave and Chainsaw. After the left-over students attempt to ditch as well Shoop admits he has no idea how to teach and they spend their first few days having fun and go out to the beach, a theme park and the petting zoo until Phil finds out.

Phil threatens to fire Shoop unless his students pass the end of the term test. Shoop promises to give each kid a favor if they promise to study. The kids agree and Shoop gives Denise driving lessons, accompanies Rhonda to Lamaze classes, gives Kevin football lessons, allows Dave to throw a party in his house - destroying it in the process, gives Larry a bed, lets Chainsaw arrange a screening of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in his class and allows Pam to move in with him. Everyone is all set except one problem - he has no idea how to teach! Shoop looks to Robin who tells him to make teaching fun. Shoop and the kids begin to learn and have fun at the same time and Shoop begins to grow closer to his kids. The students study hard to write their English basic skills exam, not knowing that Phil is going to fire Shoop unless all his students pass.

When the exam is about to begin, the student that 'went to the lavatory' returns, without explanation, after being gone for the entire film. When the exam results come in, not all the students pass and Asst. Vice Principal Phil is ready to follow through with his firing threat. However, the parents of the students come to Mr. Shoop's defense, and because of the students' large improvement, Principal Kelban (Francis X. McCarthy) grants Mr. Shoop tenure for his positive effect, thwarting Phil's plan. Shoop and Robin end up happily together in the end; they kiss in the surf, a lá Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity.


The Summer School soundtrack consists of 80s rock and dance songs with performers like Paul Engemann who is best known for his popular 1983 hit, "Scarface (Push It to the Limit)", Deborah Harry from Blondie, Elizabeth Daily (credited as E.G. Daily on the soundtrack) with her popular hits that had reached the Billboard, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Vinnie Vincent, Billy Burnette, and the young Elisa Fiorillo. Three of these performers were on the soundtrack from the popular 1983 gangster movie Scarface and did those songs with rock 'n' roll producer Giorgio Moroder. But on this soundtrack they did these songs with Danny Elfman, another famous film scorer.

Some songs that appear on the film, including James Brown's, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag", Tonio K's, "I'm Supposed to Have Sex with You", Tone Norum's, "Second Language", Tami Show's, "All I Want from You", and Eddie Murphy's, "Party All the Time" do not appear on the soundtrack.

Track listing

  1. "Brain Power" - Paul Engemann
  2. "Rapture" - Deborah Harry
  3. "My Babe" - The Fabulous Thunderbirds
  4. "Jackie" - Elisa Fiorillo
  5. "Happy" - Danny Elfman
  6. "Get an Education" - Billy Burnette
  7. "Seduction" - Elizabeth Daily
  8. "Animal" - Vinnie Vincent
  9. "Mind Over Matter" - Elizabeth Daily
  10. "Epilogue" - Danny Elfman


Special Edition DVD

A special edition of Summer School was released on DVD on May 22, 2007.

Along with the special edition DVD release commemorating the twentieth anniversary of Summer School, many of the original cast was present for a reunion party. During an audience Q&A, Dean Cameron suggested that he would be open to a sequel or possibly even a remake of the original. When asked who he would cast as “Chainsaw” Grimp suggested Shia LaBeouf or Zach Braff. No such project is in the works at this time.


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