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The Last Day of Summer DVD Review

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Movie & DVD Details

Director: Charles E. Bastien

Cast: Jansen Panettiere (Luke Malloy), Jon Kent Ethridge (A.J. Perkins), Eli Vargas (Riley Johnson), Alexandra Krosney (Diana Malloy), Denyse Tontz (Alice Keefe), Brendan Miller (Snake), Daniel Samonas (Meat), Creagen Dow (Gus), Jennette McCurdy (Dory Sorenson), Vince Grant (Frank Malloy), Jessica Tuck (Mary Malloy), Sean Whalen (Mr. Molesky), Vicki Lewis (Paige), Jackée Harry (Lola the Lobster), Kayla Henry (Stephanie), Cody Benjamin Lee (Travis), Bailee Madison (Maxine), Nick Morrison (Crony #1), Lindsey Taylor (Audrey)

Original Air Date: July 20, 2007 / Running Time: 86 Minutes / Rating: TV-Y7
1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned; Orange Translucent Keepcase
DVD Release Date: August 28, 2007
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5); Suggested Retail Price: $24.94

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By Reuben Gutierrez

Living the perfect day everyday sounds like a great thing to wish for, but wishes that come true tend to fail to meet expectations.
The Last Day of Summer utilizes the same concept as the Erik Von Detten TV movie Christmas Every Day and Bill Murray's more successful and better-known Groundhog Day, only changing things up by using a different significant day. Every kid's dream is for summer vacation to never end, and this dream is wished to the fullest by Luke Malloy (Jansen Panettiere). For Luke, the last day of summer is the only barrier to starting middle school, something he dreads thanks to the horror stories from his older sister Diana (Alexandra Krosney). Luke's dream comes true when his wish upon a Frisbee is accompanied by some something-strange-is-going-to-happen music. It is this ominous music that signals Last Day taking the route of the aforementioned today-is-forever movies.

About fifteen minutes in, I was already getting antsy and waiting for it to end. Unfortunately, this was the point the Frisbee appeared and the movie would begin to repeat the predictable events we had just watched. Luke, with best friends A.J. (Jon Kent Ethridge) and Riley (Eli Vargas), head to the town's annual end of summer fair/carnival culminating in a talent show where the boys' band, Steel Monkey, is to perform their latest (and probably only) song. Rather than spend the whole day rehearsing, they choose to have one last bit of fun in the sun before the new school year arrives. Spicing up their carnival escapades and skate park adventures, the boys encounter the elements of every budding teenager's social life: girls, bullies, and being "cool." For a TV movie, life is of course like television. Naturally, since this movie is about Luke, he fails in all three domains, looking stupid in front of girls, bullies, and efforts to be "cool."

Thankfully (for Luke, that is), the ultimate wish comes true and Luke gets a do-over day... or rather week... well, I stopped counting how many days he got after the montage of September 1 being ripped from the daily calendar over and over... and over again. Every successive day, Luke tries to act cooler, especially trying to appear suave and nonchalant in front of Alice (Denyse Tontz), the girl he's been crushing on. He also attempts a variety of ways to interact with bully Meat (Daniel Samonas), hoping to earn an easier time once school starts. He even uses the repeating days to practice his skateboard tricks to wow his best buds and local superstar skater Snake (Brendan Miller). Pretty soon, Luke realizes he's tired of living the same day and wants a way out. The way out turns out to be something he didn't expect. Trying to change his day for the better was not enough to get out of his wish-turned-nightmare.

Jansen Panettiere stars as Luke, the boy destined to repeat the last day of summer until he gets it right in Nickelodeon's "The Last Day of Summer." Resident bully "Meat" (Daniel Samonas) promises Luke to bully no more, lest his real name Melvin is revealed.

It's often said not to judge a book by its cover and the same might go for a DVD and its back-of-case description, but it's unavoidable with Nickelodeon's second original TV movie. The title and DVD artwork are enough to give prospective buyers an idea of the target audience and the movie meets one's expectations of serving the tween demographic. The underdog hero leads a predictable life, carried out with the hallmark adolescent moments, learned lessons, and everyone turning out for the better. Let's also not forget that in modern-day tweenage programming everyone's a singer, resulting in a cross-promotional music video intertwined within the movie's finale. God help us all if "Can't Wait 'Til Next Year" becomes a Billboard hit.

At the ripe old age of twenty with the trials and tribulations of middle school behind me, I found The Last Day of Summer exhaustingly predictable and, even at a brief 86 minutes, remarkably slow-paced. What's more remarkable, or should I say unremarkable, is how little substance found in the characters. They're the typical pre-teenagers we've seen all over television, but they lack any motivation beyond poorly-written middle school anxieties. It's almost useless for Luke and his friends to even be part of a band, as this apparent passion for music is ignored only until the very end. Perhaps a movie like The Last Day of Summer doesn't need to get deep into characterization, but the sheer lack of both character development and motivation causes the entire story to suffer. We're merely watching a kid living the same day over and over again until he does it right, and the day isn't that too enjoyable for viewers to begin with. The only incentive to keep watching is to see the pattern broken and let him get to the next day, meaning the movie has finally come to a conclusion.

On the bright side, there is a central message about living each day "right", that the next day can only be better or worse. Also, we are reminded that the more important and wonderful things in life should not be taken advantage of. For instance, Luke's strong friendship with his two buddies is one thing he forgot about in his attempt to act cool over the course of his own achievement of a perfect day. Another thing I liked was that Luke initially makes the wish not only for the desire to stay in summer, but also out of fear for the following first day of middle school. This point probably is the most relatable for the kids watching this movie since the fears he addresses are probably the same one the young viewers are feeling, too. Of course, there is little resolution to his anxieties, and we don't even get to see Luke's first day of school where he could actually put his fears to rest.

Luke's friends A.J. (Jon Kent Ethridge) and Riley (Eli Vargas) offer approving smiles while trying to hide their embarrassment at Luke's latest fall in the skate park. Jackée Harry has a small but memorable role as Lola the Lobster.

In addition, the story is at least tolerable in the script's somewhat-believable dialogue. Conversations sound like conversations and not like a forty-year-old trying to write for a teenybopper. The slang and expressions in the movie are written for modern pre-teen audiences and are not overdone. Characters throw around a lot of interesting and colorful lingo, especially at the skate park and I was surprised to learn a few choice phrases! There's also some decent acting from the child actors and the few-and-far-between adults. Though his reaction to discovering his wish came true seemed a bit rehearsed, Jansen Panettiere plays Luke naturally and as the typical kid we expect to see. Also, the comedy of Jackée Harry as the giant fair mascot Lola the Lobster provides a welcome comic relief to the film.

The filmmakers deserve some kudos for technical aspects, like set design, camera blocking, and even character wardrobe. The movie doesn't get over-the-top outrageous for comedy's sake (though there's a tent fart gag which gets tired immediately). A few jokes do earn some chuckles and laughs.
The antics of a pair of incredibly random puppet squirrels were probably my favorite part of the movie. Still, if some puppet squirrels are the high point, that doesn't bode well for everything else.


The movie is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, its original broadcast ratio (at least for HD presentations). Colors are sharp and well-saturated, and the element is expectedly clear and clean. For a recent film, there's really nothing to complain about. And even if there was, I doubt the target viewers (anyone under 14 really) would care.

Audio is provided in a 5.1 Surround mix that really overdoes the music. The background effects are at a nice level compared to the dialogue, but really, the music can drown it out. I had to adjust the volume several times in order to hear one over the other. It's also worth nothing that on the bonus music video, the volume really needs to be turned up as it's much quieter than the movie.

Director Blair Treu is on hand to discuss the film in "Behind the Scenes." Jon Kent Ethridge gives a thumb up after goofing up a line in the Blooper Reel. So...is the song called "End of Summer", "Can't Wait 'Till Next Year", or "Substandard Kiddie Pop"?


Sony's DVD release contains three bonus features
for those looking to delve deeper into the world of The Last Day of Summer.

First off is a "Behind the Scenes" featurette (9:29) that, just like the movie, makes you relive the same events over and over again through the use of various clips. There are some comments provided by the director and executive producer, but most of them come from the child actors on what the movie is about and who their characters are. In addition to showing a bit of the silly and fun things that happened on/off-set, there's a lesson on middle school lingo like "lockered" and "shred with the plumbing." Though it's more promotional than in-depth, that's more or less to be expected for a movie like this. Look out for everyone's favorite world-saving cheerleader (a.k.a. lead Jansen's older sister Hayden Panettiere) at the end!

Blooper reels are always fun features on DVDs and the 3½-minute one we're treated to here starts out great, but gets dull pretty quickly. There are a few funny moments of botched lines and the like, but most of it merely finds the male actors being goofy.

The final extra is a music video (2:28) for the song Steel Monkey plays at the end of the movie. Though Jon Kent Ethridge (A.J.) introduces the song as "Can't Wait 'Till Next Year," the DVD credits it as "End of Summer." The video features clips of the movie performance -- from different angles in differing quality -- along with actors dancing in their "Behind the Scenes" interview positions. The song itself isn't too exciting, but it's a nice little tune for budding kid rock stars to bust out at the next family reunion. (If they're at my family reunion, though, I may invest in earplugs ahead of time.)

The DVD's 16x9-enhanced menus adhere to the cover art, with similar layouts and stills of main characters. They're all silent and static, but between this or the cringe-worthy "Can't Wait", silence is truly golden. The disc comes packaged in a clear, orange-tinted keepcase. Though insert-less, the front and back cover art has content on its reverse side which can be seen with case opened.

Upon loading the disc, skippable trailers play for Surf's Up and the Nickelodeon Original Movie Shredderman Rules!. They're also accessible from the Main and Special Features menus, where additional promos are found for Daddy Day Camp, Are We Done Yet?, The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, and The Pink Panther.

Luke and Alice (Denyse Tontz) share a moment inside the butterfly exhibit. It's the fake squirrel that garners more laughs than the movie's own jokes.


Despite some good work, The Last Day of Summer is one of those movies that should only be watched by the targeted tween audience. For others, one viewing may feel like too many and will only remind of older, superior movies with the same premise. Despite the "repeat each day" motif, repeat viewing holds little appeal, especially with Groundhog Day covering the today-again-and-again ground more than satisfactorily. The only reason I can think to recommend this DVD is for parents seeking to calm down distressed kids worried about the upcoming school year. It's a good way to prepare for the first day of school, even if it's a lousy movie overall.

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Reviewed August 30, 2007.

Text copyright 2007 DVDizzy.com/UltimateDisney.com. Images copyright 2007 Nickelodeon and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.