"Best Summer Ever": feel good musical on respecting disability

By Moira Jean Sullivan

Best Summer Ever is a spirited high school musical directed by Michael Parks Randa and Lauren Smitelli. It is filmed in Vermont and produced by Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Amy Brenneman and Jamie Lee Curtis. Only Gyllenhaal and Sarsgaard have speaking roles in the film and play a TV producer and a cameraman. Also in the film is Benjamin Bratt as the father of one of the high school girls.

Many of the actors are mentally or physically challenged and the way the film is edited and shot is that they are incorporated in the film with equal or correspondingly equal abilities with everyone. Everyone has amazing talent whether they are in wheel chairs, or have artificial limbs, or speech impediments or are able bodied.

The story is about Sage (Shannon DeVido), a young woman in a wheelchair that falls in love at a summer camp with a dancer , Tony (Rickey Alexander Wilson Jr). The ambitious and scheming Madeline Rhodes (MuMu) is a talented young woman who actually wrote some of the music of the musical. She wants Tony to be prom king along with her as prom queen. This intrigue is carried to the limits and Madeline is ready to compromise Tony’s reputation to get what she wants. Sage and Madeline battle it out for Tony, but he is content to instead of shining as a football star, show what a good dancer he is on the football field.

The music compositions are typical for high school musicals as are the dance numbers but the ingenuousness of the film is the ability to merge song and dance amoung young people of various abilities and disabilities into a colorful, playful and warm musical. The acting is excellent and there is such a good feeling in this great visual and acoustic experience.

Best Summer Ever was released on VOD April 27.

© 2021 - Moira Jean Sullivan - Air Date: 04/28/21
Movie Magazine International