Review: Summer Issues

Directed by Eric Kelly and written by actor Adam Masnyk and Rory Cardin, a young man in his final years of college that returns home to Massachusetts for his summer break. While there he ends up back at his old job working at a local comic book shop. He runs into old friends, new problems, and finds out it’s the perfect place to re-evaluate what he really wants out of life. Starring: Vasilios Asimakos, Matthew Berke, Tom O’Donnell, Mike Brais, David R. Reid, Ana Marie Calise, Alyssa Di Rubbo and Kraig McLaughlin.

A hugely underappreciated section of cinema are films that you can just sit back and relax to, Summer Issues is one of those films. It’s easy going and rolls along happily and smoothly throughout, the pacing is satisfyingly consistent and it’s never over-dramatic or over-complicated. It’s a familiar story of the college student unsure if it’s for them, of where they want to go in life or what they want to do but it still feels original. It’s grounded but with classically indie American sense of humour. It focuses more on the journey than the decisions for its lead character, following his experience rather than whether or not things will work out to plan. It’s also a great example of the stress, which is so often felt by college students, more recently coming into the forefront to explore the amount of pressure young people put upon themselves with money, success and relationships.

There’s a pretty clear vibe right from the start with Eric Kelly’s direction, it’s dipping into the stylings of Kevin Smith and mumblecore, it’s lowkey but with a clear charm. It’s even slightly reminiscent of the atmosphere in 2009’s Whip It, following a slightly alternative group, creating a team and throwing some romance in for good measure. It has a fun but understated feel, it would have been far too easy to fall into a silly sense of humour here, becoming slapstick or jock-like but it thankfully resists that trap. It keeps things on a more even keel and adds enough ups and downs to keep things interesting while holding a nice even pacing and tone.

The cast all feel cohesively on the same page, each with different personalities and qualities to offer but they work really well as an ensemble. Vasilios Asimakos takes the lead and gives us a very sympathetic heart to Summer Issues, he’s sweet and creative, eager to please but starting to push back for what he wants. Writer Adam Masnyk provides an unexpected role, a typical example of not being too quick to judge, it’s easy to put his character into one box but as you’ll find out, he has a lot more to offer. Director Eric Kelly also appears in the film, as a filmmaker which is nicely on the nose and he adds a good note of comedy.

Summer Issues is a fun, easy watch and feels like a great throwback to cinema of the 1990’s. It has an understated but endearing charm, it’s a familiar story but that doesn’t take away from its appeal. There’s a great cast at work who all do well to bring through the drama and comedy without stepping into the realm of theatricality, keeping things in a relatable, everyday tone. It’s entertaining and a film you can so easily pick up and enjoy, which is not something you come across as often as you’d hope these days.

Verdict: ✯✯✯½ | 7/10

Available now on Tubi and major streaming services

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