Hot Summer Nights
Starring Timothee Chalamet, Alex Roe, Maika Monroe, Emory Cohen, Thomas Jane, William Fichtner,
Writer/director Elijah Bynum must be feeling like crap these days. He did a film with one of the hottest rising stars in Hollywood, before he became a worldwide sensation and an award winner. His film Hot Summer Nights starring Oscar nominee Timothee Chalamet is finally hitting theaters (and VOD)… too little too late. The vintage designed drug drama debuted in Austin’s SXSW in March of 2017, seven months before Call Me By Your Name landed in theaters. Totally missing the chance for a bad movie to piggy back off Chalamet’s acclaim, it became clear to viewers interested in the film and distributors that Hot Summer Nights was a non-starter.
It’s Cape Cod 1991 and Daniel (Chalamet) has been sent to the summer playground for the season. It doesn’t take long for the withdrawn teenager to land a convenience store job where he meets local drug dealing legend Hunter (Roe). The entire town has stories about Hunter, but he and “Danny” as he calls him, start selling more weed than they can keep up with. Daniel gets the bug and wants to take their enterprise even bigger. The only catch, Daniel has fallen for the best-looking girl in town, McKayla (Monroe), Hunter’s sister, and the one thing he forbid in their partnership. With a hurricane on the horizon, it will be the summer that changes everyone’s lives, or those who make it out alive.
Hot Summer Nights wants to be a drug flick, a nostalgia trip and young love story but nothing fits together to make a cohesive story.
For a first-time filmmaker, Bynum really tackles more than he can chew in a film that’s unnecessarily complicated. The script wastes 10-15 minutes building a back story for Daniel (dead father, mother sends him away to aunt, he’s depressed), yet after the opening title all of that is forgotten and never plays into the story at hand, so why bother? The entire movie is narrated by a kid who isn’t in the story and doesn’t appear on screen until the last few minutes, again, why? It only gets worse when Thomas Jane (The Punisher), the local cop, and cocaine connoisseur William Fichtner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) enter the fray. Hot Summer Nights wants to be a drug flick, a nostalgia trip and young love story but nothing fits together to make a cohesive story. It’s also pretty tame to boast that racy title in hot pink electric lettering. Even the word “hot” is laughable because Daniel wears long sleeves basically the entire flick.
Hot Summer Nights quickly starts to feel like a bunch of music videos ideas forcibly edited into a narrative. Bynum’s editing style isn’t consistent, like a novice who is hitting every button on the keypad. I will say that for those who saw this movie before Chalamet’s 2017 cinematic explosion, the camera loves him, and you can see the makings of Elio even here. The rest of the cast are not as fortunate. Maika Monroe (Independence Day: Resurgence, The 5th Wave) is beautiful but playing a very familiar female stereotype. Alex Roe (also from The 5th Wave) is what you get when you can’t afford Zac Efron. There is nothing here to unpack, subtly isn’t something Bynum understands, and Hot Summer Nights is the most unimpressive project Chalamet has been attached to yet.
A disorganized and messy film that doesn’t know what to do with Timothee Chalamet’s talent.