Stolen Summer

"OK"

Stolen Summer Review


"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.

At the heart of "Stolen Summer," written and directed by contest winner Pete Jones, is a curious, earnest story of innocence, family and (ironically) faith. It's about a 7-year-old Irish Catholic boy in 1976 Chicago who has been browbeaten into thinking he's going to hell by the nuns at school. Hoping to prove his Christian worth, he spends his summer on a religious quest. If he can convert one person to Catholicism, he figures he'll be on his way to a Heavenly reward.

So upbeat and clever Pete O'Malley (played by Adi Stein, ironically the son of a Rabbi) sets up a "lemonade and a free trip to Heaven" stand in front of a synagogue hoping to attract interested parties. He's befriended by the temple's amused Rabbi (Kevin Pollack), who likes to stir the pot and believes the boy's presence will inspire healthy thought and debate among his congregation.

When Pete's strict, proudly blue-collar firefighter father (Aidan Quinn) rescues the Rabbi's Leukemia-stricken son Danny (Mike Weinberg) from a fire that burns down their house, the families become friendly and Pete decides that Danny, also 7 years old, should be the person he converts.

Jones is a little obvious in the way he very carefully tippy-toes around the heavier religious issues his story stirs up. Since this is essentially a feel-good family film, he shouldn't be docked too many points for that. But where he does run into trouble is with his young actors. Stein and Weinberg are certainly cute and sincere. Put them in a scene opposite the moving, conflicted, realistic performances of Pollack, Quinn or Bonnie Hunt (who plays Pete's mom) and for the most part they rise to the occasion. But put them in a scene together -- and there are many such scenes -- and they might as well be reading cue cards.

Jones's filmmaking is rudimentary, but his heart is in the right place as "Stolen Summer" touches on themes of pride, ambition, independence, prejudiced, misconception, respect and understanding. The director also provides the picture a vivid sense of time and place, a sense of familial warmth that feels genuinely homey and a sweet sense of humor.

But tackling a low-budget movie in which inexperienced children play the two main characters might not be the best way to cut your teeth in the film industry. All the sincerity and good intentions in the world can't make up for primary performances that waver in their authenticity to the point of distraction.



Stolen Summer

Facts and Figures

Run time: 91 mins

In Theaters: Friday 25th July 2003

Box Office USA: $0.1M

Distributed by: Miramax Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 36%
Fresh: 21 Rotten: 37

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Joe O'Malley, as Margaret O'Malley, Kevin Pollak as Rabbi Jacobsen, as Patrick O'Malley, Lisa Dodson as Mrs. Jacobsen, as Danny Jacobsen, Adiel Stein as Pete O'Malley (as Adi Stein), as Father Kelly, Peggy Roeder as Sister Leonora Mary, Martin Hughes as Jimmy

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

Advertisement
The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.