White Water Summer (1987)

Kevin Bacon, Sean Astin, Jonathan Ward, K.C. Martel,
The story of a shy boy who gets convinced by his parents to spend a few summer days in the mountains. So, he joins a group, and the vacation begins. Unfortunately, things turn out to be a little tough for our small friend.
  • 6.2 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Manya Starr, Ernest Kinoy, Writer:
  • Jeff Bleckner, Director:
  • Mark Tarlov, Producer:

All subtitles:



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/ 10

I used to love White Water Summer, but these days, when I pop the old copyinto the VCR, I just can't seem to get through the whole thing withoutgetting annoyed.

White Water Summer is about Alan's summer camp experience in the mountainswith four other boys and Vic (Kevin Bacon), their psychotic New Age campcounselor who's wacky methods are supposed to teach the boys about realliving. The story is told in flashback format, narrated by a much olderAstin (who plays Alan, young and old) revisiting the those couple of days orweeks in the mountains. I suspect they took a break in filming, probably asAstin and others worked on other projects, knowing that pre-peubescent Astinwould grow quickly and fill the shoes of the movie's older, wiser teen.

Alan is recruited by some nut named Vic, a guy who actually hikes to hisfamily's home in the city. Alan, the little whiner that he is, doesn'treally want to spend the summer with a bunch of boys, but reluctantlyagrees, pretending to share his father's enthusiasm in the whole idea. Onthe trip with Alan is Mitch (Jonathan Ward), probably Alan's only friendalong the way, and two smart ass jerks, Chris (Matt Adler) and George (K.C.Martel). They each have their various learning experiences hiking in andaround the mountains. But, things get out of hand along the way when Vicpulls some nasty business on his recruits, and Alan starts to suspect Vic isway out of line. Unfortunately, he's got to grow up and start taking care ofthings himself, because he's the only one willing to stand up to Vic.

This movie has a lot of good things going for it. The photography is reallybeautiful, filmed mostly in New Zealand locations. The music is pretty goodtoo, with ample sounds from the Cult, Bruce Hornsby, and the Cutting Crew(whad'ya know, they did have more songs thatn I Just Died in Your ArmsTonight).

The big draw maybe the cast, with the obvious audience appeals of Astin,Bacon, and possibly Matt Adler. Unfortunately, it is one of the few thingsyou'll be able to see both Jonathan Ward or K.C. Martel in. Ward was on thelater seasons of Charels and Charge, appeared in Mac & Me (an E.T. ripoff),but never really did much. Martel, who was George in E.T., goes on to appearin a few things, mostly later episodes of Growing Pains in which he playsMike Seaver's friend, Eddie. It's worth a try. It can always suffice as alazy day kind of movie.

6/10 / 10

Before Kevin Bacon tackled the wilderness' harsh rivers in "The RiverWild (1994)', he played Vic a spiritually in touch hiking guide whotakes some city boys in to the mountainous wilds to learn more aboutthemselves and to push the best out them. But his methods come underthe eyes of the boys, with his constant testing of the young,inexperienced lad Alan. But soon enough we find the tables areeventually turned around on just who relies on each other.

'White Water Summer' is a respectably bold and hearty, if unspectacularpresentation that Ernest Kinoy and Manya Starr's actively mediative andtheme-grown material feels unsure to what it truly wants to be, as ittreads between feel-good adventure, psycho-territory and being morallyhounded in finding the mental toughness to go beyond your limitationsand fears. Jeff Bleckner's direction is well-measured and slicklyhandled, as the standouts range from the excellent white water raftingscenes and rock climbing views. The harrowing tension within thesepassages seem to bubble, but Bleckner also gets a great bunch ofperformances, especially from his young confident cast (Sean Astin,Jonathan Ward, K.C. Martel and Matt Adler) who show binding chemistry.That when a change in Bacon's character begins to show, the suspenseand dangerous air kicks in the adrenaline as the boys begin to feel thecircumstances change. Astin is impressive as Alan, as he goes head onwith stupendously hard-pressed Kevin Bacon. His way is the right ways…don't question it. As he goes on to test them out individually and as ateam to become dependant on one and each other. But does it becomebeyond breaking point to get these results.

What I could have done without was the flash-forward smart-mouth lacednarration pockets of an older Sean Astin talking to the screen, whilecutting between the central story. They somewhat lessen the impact andbecame off-putting. Even the soundtrack with its squealing rock tunesbecame a little overbearing, as it regularly pumped it out. MichaelBoddicker's soothing original score does a better job in camouflagingwith its surroundings and activities. John Alcott's strikingcinematography naturally hovers over the beautiful backdrop gettingamongst organic growth and swirling waters to isolate the viewers alongwith the small party.

7/10 / 10

This was a movie I had watched many times at my uncle's house duringEaster or Thanksgiving family gatherings over the years...decades ago.So when I had seen that it was on demand for free on my TV today, Ithought-"Why not?" As much as I like the movie, certain things justreally bothered me about certain aspects of it. Even back then to thisday. Kevin Bacon swears on his methods, yet is pretty reckless as asupposed mentor of the kids he takes on this trip. He teaches"Survival",yet punishes a great survival tactic (because he feltupstaged). Yes I understand the arguments of "teaching his way" and"listen to authority"...even his "don't destroy the wilderness"philosophy. For him to endanger the lives of these kids whose parentshave trusted him just from a single slide-show of what they'll be goingthrough is just irresponsible of them, and I don't know one singleparent who would agree to such a thing.....but then we wouldn't havethis movie now, would we? After many years of not seeing this,andseeing it one more time I have to say I still like it though.Definitely a good 80's flick to catch if you get a chance.

8/10 / 10

This is a response to the reviewers questioning Vick's motives.

As a city boy who loves the outdoors, I totally understood where KevinBacon's character was coming from, though, he was clearly a nut-job forthe most part.

In my experience, city boys (i.e. Sean Astin's character) cannot findvalue in the wilderness for the life of them, and obtaining a cellphonesignal is their top priority at all times. This movie is about taking abreak from our technology-infused world and getting back to the basics.The wilderness is a wonderful, rugged place that can really broadenanyone's perspective on life. It's about facing fears head-on andliving to tell about it -- those are the experiences that you rememberin life.

I wish everyone would share these sentiments, as Vick probably does inthis movie. But Vick's major fault is failing to realize that peoplecannot be forced to enjoy something that's unfamiliar and frighteningto them. He feels he can get through to them but uses some extrememeans and acts like a huge ass in the process.

/ 10

White Water Summer is one of my favorite movies from childhood. There aresome parts of the movie that would not make sense in our working world,legalities, etc, but its still a great adventure movie!

The whole movie revolves around a young city boy, Who unwillingly agreestogo with "VIC" on an intense adventure camp out in the wilderness withsomeother boys. Being a city boy, he's usually the last one to get somethingdone right, especially when in very dangerous and perhaps lifethreateningsituations. He learns what he really is capable of, and is able to growupin one summer, perhaps through a little too much harshness...

The sound track is great, unfortunately, no one made a sound track forpurchasing!