DVD Review – How I Spent My Summer Vacation
Title: HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION
Despite the fact that the story is a lot of nonsense at the best of times, the film is still a very fun 95 minutes.
Out this week on DVD and Blu-Ray is Mel Gibson’s latest caper, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, but is it the return to form we yearn for? Stu takes a look
Despite the fact that his name has really been dragged through the mud in the last few years, it was only a matter of time before Mel Gibson returned to action films. With The Expendables 2 featuring a lot of aging action heroes going back to what they do best, it was probably about time Mel Gibson did the same. The characters that Gibson usually plays are usually different from the musclemen in The Expendables 2 – his brand of character has far more in common with the ones that Nicolas Cage tends to play: unhinged anti-heroes that you can’t help but root for. In How I Spend My Summer Vacation, this is what he has come back to.
In How I Spend My Summer Vacation, Gibson plays Driver – a career criminal caught with a pile of money and dying partner just south of the border in Mexico. He is sent to El Pueblito – a tough prison where a ten year old boy helps him survive.
Despite the fact that How I Spent My Summer Vacation did have a theatrical release in the UK, it screams “straight to DVD” from the outset. Indeed in the US, it was a straight to DVD film, and it was also had the terrible title of Get the Gringo. The title of How I Spent My Summer Vacation fits the voiceover in the film much better, and it also shares its name with a fantastic pop-punk album by The Bouncing Souls.
To say that How I Spent My Summer Vacation feels like a straight to DVD film isn’t damning it with faint praise – it is in fact a real return to form for Gibson. His last film, The Beaver was a great idea for a film but
turned out to be woeful. Gibson’s Driver feels a lot like many people’s favourite Gibson character, Marty Riggs. He is a character who is very flawed but has redeeming qualities which keep the audience invested in him.
Despite the fact that the story is a lot of nonsense at the best of times, the film is still a very fun 95 minutes. The dialogue is very funny (the line “as my mother used to always say: ‘fuck off loser’” is one of my favourites this year) and the hyperactive camerawork is reminiscent of the 2006 film, Crank. The film does sag a little in the middle, and the romantic subplot is incredibly obvious, but you’re never too far from a blistering action scene.
How I Spent My Summer Vacation isn’t going to be remembered as one of the best films ever made, but it is funny where it needs to be, it is nicely edited together, and it is nice to enjoy a Mel Gibson film again without feel guilty about it. The plot might only make marginally more sense than both Expendables films, but it is damn sight more fun than both of them.
About The Author – Stu Anderson
Stu is a former film student and aspiring film critic from the Highlands, currently living in Edinburgh. He is a fan of documentaries, Judd Apatow produced comedies, science fiction, cult film and television, punk rock, and video games. He is a firm observer of The Moviegoers Code of Conduct and would love to live in a world where people don’t talk or check their phones during films. He can be found on Twitter as @stugone or at his own blog: Stu’s Adventures in Cinema
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