Content: -2 Discretion advised for adults.

What You Need To Know:

A ninth-grader from Chicago spends the summer in a coastal California beach community where he makes new friends and learns how to surf.


(LL, S, V, A/D) 17 obscenities and 20 profanities (most of them "Oh, G-d!"); brief, partial male nudity; teen drinking and substance abuse; and, brief violence.

More Detail:

If this is all that America’s minors and junior-leaguers have to look forward to this summer, they will certainly be let down by this story about a Chicago youth’s summer adventures in a coastal California community.

Sent by his mom to spend the summer with his Aunt Sunny because she doesn’t want him around during the divorce proceedings from his father, Chicago 9th-grader Tom Travis knows he’s going to hate the California beach community where his aunt resides. An out-of-touch ’60s holdover, Aunt Sunny’s organic dishes are turn offs, as are sidewalk roller skaters, beach drugs and, especially, being called “dude.” Doesn’t anyone here play hockey, he wonders?

Then, Tom meets Finn, a hip beach local his own age selling sunglasses, whom he later saves from drowning. The two boys become fast friends, united in their quest to make time with two budding pubescent beach beauties.

However, things go from inane to serious when Tom and Finn witness a drug killing. When the crazed drug fiend threatens Tom with his life if he talks, Tom booby traps his aunt’s house should the killer come calling.

Finn, in the meanwhile, begins training for a surfing contest. Tom, who is being harassed by the beach lifeguard, decides he has something to prove, so he enters, too. The big event finally comes and passes with all the excitement of a theme park attraction. But, wait! There’s still the matter of the crazed drug killer on the loose. Tom bravely takes him one-on-one when he runs into him in an old mine shaft that the youths have gone to explore.

The acting in this grade-C film is even lower than the mine shaft. In between sophomoric bouts of one-up-manship on the beach, there are lots of juvenile pranks involving things like toilet paper and shaving cream. While this may not seem to be a cause for alarm, on a more serious note these kids engage in teen drinking, smoking pot and strip poker. AN AMERICAN SUMMER thus shows that this is what teenagers are doing, a very sorry state of affairs indeed.

Want more content like this? Make a donation to Movieguide®