Buena Vista Pictures | Release Date: July 2, 1999
1.1
USER SCORE
Overwhelming dislike based on 113 Ratings
USER RATING DISTRIBUTION
Positive:
12
Mixed:
1
Negative:
100
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9
M.CAug 7, 2008
One of my favorite films, a cult classic.
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8
TheStrangeCaseOfGilbertMulroneycakesJul 13, 2003
Found myself flitting in and out of this film a little - partly because being British (we've never heard of the Son of Sam over here, not even in passing) I'm lacking in context, but also because of a slight lack of focus on Found myself flitting in and out of this film a little - partly because being British (we've never heard of the Son of Sam over here, not even in passing) I'm lacking in context, but also because of a slight lack of focus on Spike's part. I get that it's not telling a story so much as following people around with a camera, but it doesn't really hold the viewer's attention for long. Well, not mine anyway; your mileage may vary. Having said that, it's good: great acting from Brody, Leguizamo, Sorvino et al, and Michael Badalucco (sic) gives a genuinely terrifying performance as the .44 Calibre Killer himself. Not sure about Jim Breslin introducing and concluding the film ("Eight million stories in the Naked City" indeed), but that's probably down to the context thing again. But would it have killed them to put in a title sequence at the start? Honestly. That apart, worth checking out. Expand
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0
JoshCSep 22, 2007
Here's a helpful rule of thumb for divining the general worth of a Spike Lee movie: If it's generating bales of media controversy, it's not going to be his best work. If it comes and goes without a major radar blip, it'll Here's a helpful rule of thumb for divining the general worth of a Spike Lee movie: If it's generating bales of media controversy, it's not going to be his best work. If it comes and goes without a major radar blip, it'll be up to his extraordinarily outsize talents: moving, thought-provoking, a humane and technical marvel. Which is to say that you probably didn't catch 1995's ''Clockers'' or 1998's ''He Got Game,'' because commentators and columnists weren't calling for Lee's head on a platter. And that's because those films didn't go out of their way to push racial/cultural hot buttons (trenchantly? irresponsibly? depends on who you ask), nor was the filmmaker indulging in his annoyingly puckish penchant for in-your-face sound bites. No, here Lee was just making good, solid, troubling stories about people rather than archetypes. With the towering exception of 1989's ''Do the Right Thing'' -- one of the great movies of its decade precisely BECAUSE it pisses so many people off (and, for the record, let's note that it didn't start riots in the street as writer Joe Klein predicted it would) -- Spike's art tends to prosper in inverse proportion to his agitprop: ''Jungle Fever,'' ''Mo' Better Blues,'' even chunks of ''Malcolm X,'' ''Crooklyn,'' and ''Girl 6'' are all hobbled by the director's itch to make provocative statements and use his characters as social chess pieces. (Nowhere does this show up more than in Lee's often-cardboard, more-often-cruel female characters). So now we've got ''Summer of Sam,'' a movie that has ticked off everyone from the families of the victims of the infamous ''Son of Sam'' to serial killer David Berkowitz himself. Spike is, as usual, defending himself in the press and throwing small, piquant thought bombs in the process. And guess what? The movie itself is a hugely ambitious attempt to corral all the sexual/political/racial/cultural/meteorlogical crosscurrents of 1977 New York City that falls squarely, if fascinatingly, on its butt. Actually, ''Summer of Sam'' is something of a bait and switch. It's not really about Berkowitz's reign of terror so much as it's an Italian-American street scene: ''Mean Streets'' meets ''Do the Right Thing.'' The main characters are an adulterous Bronx hairdresser (John Leguizamo), his dazed, goodhearted wife (Mira Sorvino), and a neighborhood kid gone punk (Adrien Brody). Hanging in the background are a bunch of low-rent goodfellas who think anyone with a Mohawk has to be a serial killer and -- wayyyy off in the distance -- the tubby figure of Berkowitz, whose inner and outer torments are played as gonzo, campy horror. What ''Summer of Sam'' does very well is put across an atmosphere of queasy dread, stirring the heat, the blackout, the lootings, CBGBs, and the infamous sex-club Plato's Retreat into concentric circles of hell. If nothing else, the movie's a reminder of how truly Disneyfied New York City has become. But Leguizamo's losing battle with his Madonna/whore complex is laid out obviously from the start and only gets more so, and, Brody aside, the street buddies are snottily observed caricatures (compare Michael Rispoli's one-note work here with his richly shaded turn as a dying Mafiosi on HBO's ''The Sopranos.'') The fault's not Lee's alone; he's working from a script by Michael Imperioli (another ''Sopranos'' vet) and Victor Colicchio that puts stick figures in front of an epic canvas. But it's the director who's putting this out there as a Spike Lee joint -- with all the baggage that that phrase has come to signify. Hasn't he learned that movies work best when it's the characters carrying the baggage? Expand
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10
SeanKJun 5, 2009
The film opens with a scene set in a dance club where we see one of our main characters being introduced by the sounds off the floor. Spike Lee who has grown to become a very wel known yet controversial director has always had a certain The film opens with a scene set in a dance club where we see one of our main characters being introduced by the sounds off the floor. Spike Lee who has grown to become a very wel known yet controversial director has always had a certain style to his movies that almost implement that somewherehes left his mark but in Summer of Sam we see him drop all the ethnic tensions that he seems t focus so much on lately and he gives us his best film to date. John Leguizamo gives a great and somewhat sad performance as a sex crazed disco dancin italian in the Bronx where he tries to remain faithful to his caring wife but in the end he basically messes up. Lee prsents the true nature of a city in terror as the Son of Sam sweeps through the city knocking off innocent young brunettes and any others who are so unfortunte to taste a .44 calibur. He gives us two stories which Lee works well with. The film is a very raging emotional and angry film tht shows the darker side of our world and what it use to be. Ifi had any complaints it would be the last minute love inerest that Adrien Brody seems to attach but not carry. Expand
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9
DirigiblePulpFeb 1, 2015
Summer of Sam has a couple different meanings. It's not quite Son of Sam, the nickname of the serial killer the movie is ostensibly about. It's also an abbreviation for SOS, as in mayday. These are on purpose. Spike Lee centers a movie aboutSummer of Sam has a couple different meanings. It's not quite Son of Sam, the nickname of the serial killer the movie is ostensibly about. It's also an abbreviation for SOS, as in mayday. These are on purpose. Spike Lee centers a movie about paranoia, changing times, metaphorical dog collars, war, post trauma, stress, sexual revolutions, disco vs punk and scapegoats into one electric, charged, throbbing explosion of a movie. It's a bit indulgent, maybe doesn't completely add up, and isn't quite perfect in its period detail (enough about this particular punk scene being a year or two off, this is art!).

The film revolves around these murders because they represent another movement in American history. One in which the hangover from Vietnam is finally fading, and what's left is the feeling that we have been used and abused. Like dogs, wearing the collar. Adrien Brody's punk rocker represents this rebellion against the collar, against the causeless wars and manipulation. Punk, gay and uninterested in conformity. John Leguizamo (with a performance that questions how he never quite became the star he should have been), still wears the collar, refuses to treat his wife properly and sleeps around. He treats her as an object to be on a pedestal, not one to be shamed and used like all those other "free love" types.

This PTSD serial killer is hearing orders from a dog wearing its collar (literally, in one of a couple surreal sequences that clearly establish this film as metaphor and fever dream), just like Nam' and he can't stop killing. So blame the punks, the gays, the unorthodox priests, anyone but the master. You gotta fight the powers that be.
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7
EndermanJan 17, 2017
This film, like the dazzling but many-tentacled "He Got Game" before it, makes up in fury much of what the Italian-American neighborhood film lacks in form.
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