Review By Tyler
‘Ping Pong Summer’ is a quirky yet formulaic attempt to recreate the look and feel of an eighties comedy that ultimately falls flat. It grabs onto more tropes than its plot can support, and at times these genre nods are more confusing than entertaining.
The film centers on Rad Miracle (Marcello Conte), an awkward Ping-Pong and hip-hop obsessed teen whose life is changed forever on his family’s annual summer vacation. Threatened by bullies who are superior Ping-Pong players Rad is forced to step his game up, with the help of the supposed town loon, former Ping-Pong champion Randi Jammer (Susan Sarandon), all so he can win the heart of the most beautiful girl in Ocean City. This ‘Karate Kid’ themed story is complicated by the addition of Rad dealing with the difficulties of making his first friend, balancing his crazy and overzealous family, and the small matter that the girl he likes is an alcoholic and sugar abuser (she sneaks into the bathroom to mix pixie sticks in her frozen slushies) with a penchant for rainbow mascara.
There is a lot in this movie that had the potential to work well, but there’s just too much plot clutter and unnecessary (and often just plain weird) fluff. This is coupled with some of the most awkward eighties inspired dialog to ever grace a movie script. It is hard not to cringe every time a character abuses words like “fresh,” “fly,” or “skeezer.”
The cast is strong, but even veterans like Susan Sarandon and Lea Thompson are powerless to resurrect terrible dialog. There is a grab bag of actor cameos, some of which are pretty funny (Amy Sedaris), while others just seem pointless (Judah Friedlander). Marcello Conte is extremely good as the awkward eighties teen, but he isn’t breaking any ground that Michael Cera or Jesse Eisneberg haven’t already broken in similar roles.
Somewhere in the brainstorming for ‘Ping Pong Summer’ there may have been a good movie, but its final form is so buried beneath eighties stereotypes and movie tropes that it was rendered unintelligible. Other films have done the eighties throwback better with less awkwardness and also less Ping-Pong.