Ping Pong Summer
Wednesday 15th October, 6.15pm – Hackney Picturehouse
There are many things about this movie that make you nostalgic for a time you might not even have lived in. The acceptable male short shorts, the boom boxes, the daytime cocaine. Ping Pong Summer tells the tale of a boy trying to find his place in the world. This classic summer coming-of-age story takes place in a crab-heavy holiday resort town, 1985. Being the first ever onscreen role for young actor Marcello Conte, he supplies quirkiness in abundance in our loser protagonist Rad Miracle. And quirky is indeed the keyword for this film. With its electric soundtrack and excess of brightly coloured windbreakers, when it comes to eccentricities, this film does not disappoint.
“Stop breakdancing and play ping pong”: yes, a real line from the climax of the movie. The story follows Rad as he spends a summer working the paddle, confronting bullies and winning girls. For many of the young cast, this is one of their first features, which pays off in the awkward performances that fit so well with the film. The standout character was played by young actor Andy Riddle, as he embraces the homoeroticism that is so often ignored in the role of the bully’s sidekick. The adult cast is far under-used, with only one scene from 30 Rock alum Judah Friedlander, and comedy legend Amy Sedaris. Susan Sarandon gets the most substantial role as the Mr Miyagi of table tennis, where she brings that dismissive love that only she can.
Although the quirky premise and style are charming, they do run dry towards to end, especially considering the story is in itself entirely linear and predictable. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a predictable ending, but coupled with a reliance on era for comedy, the film becomes a little tiresome. This is not to say that it isn’t enjoyable, but perhaps not enthralling.
If you liked the quirkiness of Napoleon Dynamite, you’ll like Ping Pong Summer. It begs to not be taken too seriously and the clichés are adhered to in a style that can only be intentionally hilarious. This film is ridiculous in the best way possible.
Ping Pong Summer release date is yet to be announced.
For further information about the BFI London Film Festival visit here.
Read more reviews from the festival here.
Watch the trailer for Ping Pong Summer here: