Set in the glorious summer of 1985, we delve into the Radical family’s vacation, as parents Crandall (Lea Thompson) and Brendan (John Hannah) take their two teenage children, Michelle (Helena May Seabrook) and Radical (Marcello Conte) to a beach side resort. Given the vast population of youngsters, Radical sets off to explore the area, instantly befriending the somewhat introverted Teddy Fryy (Myles Massey), and falling for the beguiling Stacy Summers (Emmi Shockley). To impress his new crush he knows he needs to get the better of the local tormentor, Lyle (Joseph McCaughtry), and so challenges him to a game of ping pong. Needing all the help he can get, he approaches his elusive, peculiar neighbour, Randi Jammer (Susan Sarandon).
The 80s setting compliments this production masterfully, as it’s exaggerated for comic effect, offering a heightened take on reality, and yet remaining authentic to some degree, not just in the fashion and music, but the overall tone and atmosphere. The picture is presented in such a way that this picture isn’t just supposed to be set in the 80s, but feel as though it was made back then too, taking on the form of a spoof in that regard. It can feel somewhat contrived in parts though, and the dry humour can grow tiring as we progress towards the latter stages. Every single line hits the mark in the opening act, as you laugh incessantly, but eventually the joke does run a little thin. Fortunately, however, when the narrative takes precedence and we’re still onside, as given how loathsome and objectionable both Lyle and his sidekick Dale (Andy Riddle) are, we fervently root for our protagonist to come out on top.
It also helps that Rad Miracle is such an endearing figure, with an infectious, blissful outlook on life. His partner in crime, Teddy, is even more empathetic, playing what is such as a well-crafted sidekick, with Massey displaying a superb aptitude for comic timing. There are inevitable comparisons to made to cult classic Napoleon Dynamite too, though at times they can be somewhat detrimental, as the whole tone and droll wit that exists is of an indistinguishable brand of comedy.
Ping Pong Summer is downright absurd, but ineffably entertaining, and you simply have to take this for what it is, and get on board. If you can see past the flaws that exist and get in touch with your silly side, you will not leave disappointed. Plus, in Teddy Fryy we see one of the great comic creations of recent years. It’s time to move over Pedro, we have someone else to vote for now.