Summer School

Summer School Information

Summer School is a 1987 film directed by Carl Reiner about the travails of a high school gym teacher who is forced to teach a remedial English class for a bunch of maladjusted goof-off students. It stars Mark Harmon, Kirstie Alley, and Courtney Thorne-Smith. The original music score was composed by Danny Elfman.


It is the last day of school before summer vacation. The gym teacher, Mr. Freddy Shoop (Mark Harmon), couldn't care less about his job and is ready to vacation in Hawaii with his young girlfriend, Kim.

The Vice Principal, Phil Gills (Robin Thomas), calls a number of students to the office. They include easily distracted Pam (Courtney Thorne-Smith); "nocturnal" Larry, who happens to be a male stripper (Ken Olandt); football jock Kevin (Patrick Labyorteaux); pregnant Rhonda (Shawnee Smith); geeky Alan (Richard Steven Horvitz), whose siblings are all straight-A students ("There must have been a baby mix-up at the hospital"); dyslexic Denise (Kelly Jo Minter) and two horror-film-obsessed underachievers, Dave (Gary Riley) and Francis, a.k.a. 'Chainsaw' (Dean Cameron). They all failed and have to go to summer school for remedial English.

The original remedial English teacher (Carl Reiner) wins $50,000 in the lottery and immediately quits work. Gills searches for a replacement among the teachers still on school grounds, but each manages to evade him after finding out what he wants them to do. In the end Gills has no choice but to give the job to Shoop (Gills finds Shoop hiding from him in the bushes by the school car park after Shoop's German Shepherd "Wonder Mutt" gives his position away). Gills implies to Shoop, who is up for tenure, that not taking the job could keep him from getting tenure.

On the first day, Shoop meets Robin Bishop (Kirstie Alley), who is teaching next door. Shoop falls head over heels for her, but she is already dating Gills. Shoop's first day is a disaster. Most of the students ditch and one, Jerome (Duane Davis), goes to the lavatory and doesn't return.

Gills brings in a beautiful Italian transfer student, Anna-Maria (Fabiana Udenio), who will be learning English as well, much to the delight of Dave and Chainsaw. After the leftover students attempt to ditch as well, Shoop admits he has no idea how to teach. They spend their first few days having fun and going to the beach, a theme park and the petting zoo until Gills finds out.

Gills threatens to fire Shoop unless his students pass the end-of-term test. Shoop promises each kid a favor if they study. The kids agree, so Shoop gives Denise driving lessons, accompanies Rhonda to Lamaze classes, gives Kevin football lessons, allows Dave to throw a party in his house (destroying his couch in the process), gives Larry a bed in the classroom, lets Chainsaw arrange a screening of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in his class and allows Pam to move in with him.

He has no idea how to teach. Robin tells him to make teaching fun. Shoop begins to grow closer to his kids. They study hard to write their English basic skills exam, still worried that Gills is going to fire Shoop unless all his students pass.

Shoop is sent to jail (on Roller skates) when he covers for Chainsaw and Dave after they are found in possession of alcohol. Robin and Gills bail him out. Gills then inadvertently exposes his true self to Robin when he states that he cares nothing for Shoop or his students and she overhears him, causing her to storm off angrily.

Larry is fired from his stripper job when he is found out first by his aunt (who kisses him...with tongue) and then by his mother (after she puts five dollars in his g-string). The students make more demands on Shoop and he quits his job in anger. He is then convinced to come back when his students start feeling guilty about what they did and they scare off Shoop's replacement with a series of stunts eerily reminiscent of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

Shoop and his students then begin preparing for the test in earnest. The student who "went to the bathroom" (Jerome) finally returns, with his only explanation being, "My zipper got stuck." He ends up getting the highest score in the class with a 91/100 (Jerome had originally told Shoop before going to the bathroom that "The computer said I failed that test. The computer made an error. I recommend this time, I pass").

The exam goes smoothly despite Rhonda going into labor soon after it started (at least now she has grounds for a makeup). Not all pass, so Gills is ready to follow through with his firing threat. However, the parents of the students come to Shoop's defense. Because of the students' great improvement, Principal Kelban (Francis X. McCarthy) grants Shoop tenure for his positive effect. Shoop and Robin end up happily together; a la From Here to Eternity, they kiss in the surf.


Theme park scene was filmed at Knott's Berry Farm


The Summer School soundtrack, on Chrysalis, consists of 80s rock and dance songs with performers like Paul Engemann who is best known for his popular 1983 hit, "Scarface (Push It to the Limit)", Deborah Harry from Blondie, Elizabeth Daily (credited as E. G. Daily on the soundtrack) with her popular hits that had reached the Billboard charts, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Vinnie Vincent, Billy Burnette, and the young Elisa Fiorillo. Three of these performers were on the soundtrack from the popular 1983 gangster movie Scarface and did those songs with rock and roll producer Giorgio Moroder. But on this soundtrack they did these songs with Danny Elfman, another famous film scorer.

Some songs that appear on the film, including James Brown's, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and Eddie Murphy's, "Party All the Time" do not appear on the soundtrack. This is also notable as the first (and until Restless in 2011 only) unreleased Danny Elfman film score.

Track listing

  1. "Happy" " Danny Elfman (3:57)
  2. "Mind Over Matter" " E.G. Daily (4:21)
  3. "Jackie" " Elisa Fiorillo (3:41)
  4. "I'm Supposed to Have Sex with You" " Tonio K (5:00)
  5. "Seduction" " E.G. Daily (3:41)
  6. "Brain Power" " Paul Engemann (4:09)
  7. "All I Want from You" " Tami Show (5:09)
  8. "Second Language" " Tone Norum (3:40)
  9. "My Babe"  " The Fabulous Thunderbirds (2:36)
  10. "Get an Education" " Billy Burnette (3:45)


  • Mark Harmon " Mr. Freddy Shoop
  • Kirstie Alley " Ms. Robin Bishop
  • Robin Thomas " Vice Principal Phil Gills
  • Patrick Labyorteaux " Kevin Winchester
  • Courtney Thorne-Smith " Pam House
  • Dean Cameron " Francis "Chainsaw" Gremp
  • Gary Riley " Dave Frazier
  • Richard Steven Horvitz " Alan Eakian
  • Kelly Jo Minter " Denise Green
  • Shawnee Smith " Rhonda Altobello
  • Ken Olandt " Larry Kazamias
  • Fabiana Udenio " Anna-Maria Mazarelli
  • Duane Davis   - Jerome Watkins (Bathroom Guy)
  • Beau Starr " Mr. Gremp
  • Laura Waterbury " Mrs. Gremp
  • Vivian Bonnell - Mrs. Green
  • Tom Troupe " Judge
  • Francis X. McCarthy " Principal Kelban (credited as Frank McCarthy)
  • Amy Stock-Poynton " Kim
  • Andrea Howard " Woman at strip joint
  • Dee Dee Rescher " Woman at strip joint
  • Jeff Silverman - Examiner
  • Thomas Ryan - Examiner


The film earned mostly mixed-to-positive reviews from critics. It currently holds a 61% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 28 reviews.

Roger Ebert gave the film out of four stars, calling it "listless, leisurely and unspirited."

Special Edition DVD

A special edition of Summer School was released on DVD on May 22, 2007.

Along with the special edition DVD release commemorating the twentieth anniversary of Summer School, many of the original cast were present for a reunion party. During an audience Q&A, Dean Cameron suggested that he would be open to a sequel or possibly even a remake of the original. When asked who he would cast as "Chainsaw" Grimp, he suggested Shia LaBeouf or Zach Braff. No such project is in the works at this time.

See also

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Summer_School_%28film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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