Inspired by true events, “Summer ’03” centers on Jamie, a 16-year-old girl and her extended family who are left reeling after her calculating grandmother unveils an array of family secrets on her deathbed. Jamie is left to navigate her nascent love life and maintain her closest friendships in the midst of this family crisis.

What We Thought:

I quite enjoyed Summer ’03 and Joey King is becoming one of my favorite young actresses. It doesn’t try be anything it’s not nor does it try to beat you over the head with messages that a lot of coming of age films tend to do nowadays.

That’s what I liked most about the film, it let Joey King be a teen girl going through that one summer that changes everyone. The national treasure that is June Squibb plays her grandmother that dies, but before her death, drops some bombshells on the family causing chaos on the way. King’s Jamie is at that point in life where decisions and actions shape you (for that part of your life at least) and her grandmother’s words have quite the impact on her.

While her father is thrown a major curveball thanks to his mother, Jamie decides she’s going to take her grandmother’s advice and meets a boy, played by Jack Kilmer (son of Val). Unfortunately for Jamie, Kilmer’s character Luke is about to become a priest and she knows nothing about Catholicism. While dealing with a grieving family, having feelings for someone she probably shouldn’t and everything else being a teen is about, Jamie goes through more lows than highs. It feels authentic and realistic because of it.

Speaking of highs, the film has some actual laugh lout loud moments. Squibb’s last words and her death are hilarious. Whether it’s King’s reaction, Paul Scheer calling her a certain word, and the chaos afterwards, Squibb is dynamite in the role. King herself gets laughs being an awkward teen girl trying “new” things in life. She is no longer the young girl from┬áRamona and Beezus and now masters that not a child, not yet an adult phase of life on-screen.

This year alone I’ve seen multiple coming of age films focused on teen girls. Summer ’03 is the best of the bunch for me. Other films were too specific, too much about today, too much about mean girls and trying to fit in with other clicks of girls. I’m not a teen girl and I’ve never been one. My teen years were also more years ago than I’d like to admit so a lot of the films today don’t have a relatability factor for me. Summer ’03 does. It’s a pretty universal story about family and first love and trying to find one’s self. The main character could be male, female or anything else because most people have gone through a major death that’s hard to deal with. Most people have had a first love/crush. Most people want to find out who they are. It feels real and relatable because of it. If she keeps up with it, Joey King will be one of the few child stars that continues having a solid career into adulthood.


Cast & Crew:

  • Joey King
  • Andrea Savage
  • Paul Scheer
  • Jack Kilmer
  • Erin Darke
  • June Squibb
  • Directed and Written by: Becca Gleason

Recommended If You Like:

  • Eight Grade
  • Joey King
  • Coming of Age Stories

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