Mike Weinberg

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Stolen Summer Review


Weak
Writer-director Pete Jones serves up a nostalgic slice-of-life in his examination of friendship and faith in the winsome but saccharine Project Greenlight winner Stolen Summer. Jones, the budding filmmaker whose chosen screenplay would emerge victorious among hundreds of competitors, delivers a film that has atmosphere and heart but ultimately ends up as just another anemic, personal story with well-meaning sentiment. There is much being made about the behind-the-scene politics of nurturing Jones's winning pet project through the Project Greenlight campaign, as well as his movie being the subject of a hit HBO documentary series. Sadly, this all feels like some publicity stunt more than it does a legitimate process in discovering talented artists.

Stolen Summer tells the poignant tale of two energetic 8-year old youngsters living in the hazy days of Chicago circa 1976 where disco music and polyester profoundly dominated the scene. Pint-sized rabble-rouser Catholic schoolboy Pete O'Malley (Adi Stein) is sternly lectured by his teacher and told that he must change his mischievous ways over the summertime. And so Pete is released from school with some serious thinking to do while he basks in the glory days of the upcoming summer. But Pete's overworked firefighter father (Aidan Quinn) and stay-at-home mother (Bonnie Hunt) are harried by all their responsibilities and just don't have the time to cater to all the personal and emotional needs of their brood. Thus, Pete has to find his own way to spiritual salvation.

Continue reading: Stolen Summer Review

Stolen Summer Review


Weak

"Stolen Summer" is the film resulting from Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's heavily publicized "Project Greenlight" screenwriting contest. Sponsored by Miramax, documented through every step of production for an HBO "reality" series, and now being unceremoniously dumped into theaters opposite "Spider-Man," it may become the first movie ever to be less successful than its own "making of" special.

I mention this only because apparently Miramax doesn't believe the movie can stand on its own. Before the feature starts, there's a two-minute introduction about "Project Greenlight" that comes off like a TV commercial, a disclaimer and an apology. "This movie is mediocre, but give this kid a break," the studio seems to be saying. "Just look at all the pressure he was under as a first-time filmmaker. What do you expect?"

Maybe they're right. OK, they are right. But that's no reason to broadcast their lack of faith to you after you've already bought a ticket.

Continue reading: Stolen Summer Review

Mike Weinberg

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