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Stolen Summer

Starring: Bonnie Hunt, Aidan Quinn, Adi Stein, Mike Weinberg, Kevin Pollack and Brian Dennehy.
Directed/written by: Pete Jones
Rated: PG



Stolen Summer is infamous and it's hardly even out there yet. See, writer/director Pete Jones is the winner of Project Greenlight from Miramax, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. There was a thirteen-episode show, on HBO, based on the making of the film that tied into the contest. I have not seen the documentary, but heard from the stars as well as audience members the show made them look like a group of backstabbing inept filmmakers. Did you know star's trailer, and on set cast love affairs aside making a film is actually boring? A job. Obviously there's a bit of Enquirer-like film making behind the filmmaking. First time director Pete Jones is a super nice guy and all the cast openly voiced their dislike for what the episodic show portrayed. Shame.

Stolen Summer's story in simple yet complex. A young Irish catholic boy, Pete O'Malley (Adi Stein) is mentally tortured at school by his nuns. Every time he makes a childhood error they tell him he's going to hell. His young mind is gettin' scared that very thing may just happen! That is if he doesn't change his wicked ways.

He decides, after learning Jewish folks don't believe in Jesus hence don't get to heaven, he would set up a lemonade stand in front of a synagogue and peddle free lemonade with a trip to heaven on the side.

He approaches the rabbi (Kevin Pollack) who agrees to the shindig and assist in the stand. It's the 1970's and times were simpler then-- you could do this kind of thing.

No one comes and Pete is stead fast in his pursuit. Then lucky--or-not so lucky- or pure script direction-- Pete's firefighter dad saves the rabbi's kid fro certain death (and in Pete's mind exit to hell). Pete befriends the boy Danny (Mike Weinberg).

Danny has you, unfortunately, know where that's going from his first scene. Danny agrees that the idea of not getting into heaven kind of bites and thinks getting "communion" would certainly not hurt. Problem is you get communion at thirteen, they are about ten each, so they really have to fanagle.

They come up with an adorable decathlon for God that they decide is equivalent to the whole bible study gig you'd get in Sunday school. Their tests for the lord include jumps over rotund men laying on a lakeside beach, and swimming out to a buoy. Pete's stolen a blessed wafer from the church for Danny for his completion to make the whole thing very official...

Danny gets very ill before the end of their quest. At the same time Pete's dad, Joe (Aidan Quinn) and Rabbi Jacobson are starting to get annoyed with the kids and their "quest."

Can, will the two manage to save Danny's soul? Is there really a need to?

Stolen Summer's theme and story is very clever. The scenes are handled with a bit of over-the-top fluff that frankly if you're able to let the cynicism go, Stolen Summer's warm and filled with some very funny real scenes. . It's just a tad telegraphed, too sweetsy, and the cast too stereotyped to have made it a real winner. One of my faves, Bonnie Hunt, plays Pete's over stressed mom squared Margaret. And Aidan Quinn , a beautiful studly muffin of a man, plays the close-minded city-job dad Joe. I love Bonnie Hunt as well as Aidan Quinn, and they did a great job as the middle class parents raising a zillion kids on one salary. Bonnie Hunt delivers some of the best lines in the film while drivin' to give God back a few hours at the families church. A real hoot. The two talents definitely increased the films watchabilty and strengths.

Kevin Pollack (normally an immensely creepy little fellow) was pretty good as the rabbi that help young Pete O'Malley on his quest to save a Jew...well, get a Jew into heaven anyway.

Brian Dennehy makes a small appearance as the priest of Pete's Parish.

The two kids were adorable. Young pros that really held their scenes.

The sad part of Stolen Summer, for me, is writer/director Pete Jones had a real touching story, one the finest I've seen in a while, and had it been less sugar coated and obvious in plot, it really could have, should have, been a winner. Oh, wait it was...

Snack Recommendation: Communion wafers and gelfelte.



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