The Last Summer follows a group of high school graduates through their last few months of “freedom” before college. The movie has quite a few storylines going on. Griffin (KJ Apa) is set to start Columbia University in the fall thanks to some strings pulled by his dad. He has a long-standing crush on Phoebe (Maia Mitchell) who he went to school with before leaving to attend a prestigious prep school. Phoebe is going to attend NYU film school and while she is attracted to Griffin, she claims she can’t hang out with him because she needs to focus solely on her upcoming film project for the entirety of the summer.
Alec (Jacob Latimore) and Erin (Halston Sage) have been dating for two years, but decide to break up to avoid the “long death march” to August when they would have broken up anyway due to attending two different colleges. Alec almost immediately begins dating the pretty but shallow, “Party” Paige (Gage Golightly) and Erin is asked out by a Major League baseball player named Ricky Santos (Tyler Posey). Sprinkle in a couple of nerds who work at a yogurt shop while asking themselves when it was they became uncool (apparently reading Harry Potter at a football game is the ultimate no-no in high school), and a cute but dumb jock character with nothing but sex on his mind (and a list of ladies to get it from), and you’ve got a smörgåsbord of teen-movie stereotypes.
I really do love coming of age movies. I grew up loving the teen to adulthood movies as well, like St. Elmo’s Fire. I will always give movies like The Last Summer a shot, and I will always hope I like them. The Last Summer is being marketed by Netflix as The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets Can’t Hardly Wait, both of which are iconic teen films, and I disagree with the marketing sentiment completely. Yes, The Last Summer uses several elements from these movies and many others, but they are not executed as well as the movies that came before, making The Last Summer feel like nothing more than a generic rehash.
The movie’s main focus is Griffin and Phoebe’s blossoming romance and the tried and true story of parental infidelity to tear them apart, but then it randomly jumps around to the other storylines, of which there are way too many. I’ve never minded movies that have more than one running plot. All I ask is that these stories at least be interesting and worth the distraction. Unfortunately, the subplots here are unoriginal and rather dull. The two token nerds, Reece (Mario Revolori) and Chad (Jacob McCarthy) wear suits into a bar one afternoon and are mistaken for stock traders, a gag that continues throughout the movie until they’re able to fool two beautiful women into taking them home for the evening. Then there is Foster’s (Wolfgang Novogratz) typical bro journey to get laid by a gaggle of beautiful girls, and really, who cares? Foster is Stifler-lite, delusional, and oblivious to the fact that his one-track mind is completely off-putting. It makes his story’s payoff even more baffling and irritating.
In terms of Alec and Erin rebounding from the end of their two-year relationship, Alec’s new girlfriend Paige is every one dimensional, shallow rich girl you’ve ever seen on screen, and Ricky Santos is completely devoid of any real personality beyond name dropping his new endorsements and complaining about his truck. Will Alec and Erin wake up and realize they should have enjoyed their last few months of freedom together rather than with pointless flings? Take a guess!
Erin’s friend Audrey (Sosie Bacon) becomes an assistant to a wealthy single mom who wanted to be an actress but is now pushing those aspirations on her young daughter, Lilah (Audrey Grace Marshall). Audrey is not sure what she wants to do with her life now with adulthood looming and colleges rejecting her right and life. Lilah isn’t so sure she wants to be the star her mother is pressuring her to become. Is there any doubt that Audrey and Lilah will walk away from the summer having taught each other some important life lessons?
I wish I had something positive to say. The acting was so-so, the soundtrack forgettable. I’m not sure there was one original concept to be had, and not one character interesting enough to save what little promise there might have been.
What more can be said about bland, upper-class teens that hasn’t been said already? Yes, they have nice homes, expensive wardrobes, and montages of various parties with abs and red Solo cups aplenty. But I’ve seen this movie before, many times, with better scripts and some more depth. The Last Summer is uneven and empty, crammed with way too many characters and way too many pointless storylines. Maybe if Bindley had focused on two or three storylines instead of seven, there would have been time for actual character development, and I could have come out of this movie actually caring about the ending.
It’s so rare to find a movie that truly emulates what it’s like for teenagers in high school, and where they may or may not go once it’s over. Add The Last Summer to the long list of failures.