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Spike Lee offers intense visuals but his storytelling feels crowded and overambitious. Read critic reviews

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Summer of Sam Photos

Movie Info

During the summer of 1977, a killer known as the Son of Sam keeps all of New York City on edge with a series of brutal murders. The philandering Vinny (John Alberto Leguizamo) unwittingly almost becomes a victim of the psychopath, and soon he and numerous people in his orbit -- including his wife, Dionna (Mira Sorvino), his punk-rocker friend, Ritchie (Adrien Brody), and aspiring porn star Ruby (Jennifer Esposito) -- are trying to figure out the identity of the killer, before it's too late.

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Critic Reviews for Summer of Sam

All Critics (102) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (52) | Rotten (50)

Audience Reviews for Summer of Sam

  • Oct 16, 2016
    A thrilling, often bizarre film, Summer of Sam is a bigger triumph than its general critical reception would make it seem due to a great ensemble and a strong screenplay.
    Matthew Samuel M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 09, 2014
    Dreadful. This was a really cool idea, but this film basically has ADHD. It cuts back and forth between characters like someone flipping channels. And after awhile, you just don't give a fuck about Leguizamo and Sorvino, and want to find out if the cops are closing in on the fucking serial killer that the characters are always talking about. The bad guy is an anecdote for people to talk about in the film, a sidenote until he's shown in like two scenes. And by far the worst part of this film is Spike Lee's indescribably bad acting...it might just be the worst acting I've ever seen in a film, which I don't get, because he's been in other films I believe, and he was okay there. But here, he's just so amazingly bad. Do not watch this movie. It sucks.
    Stephen S Super Reviewer
  • Jan 18, 2012
    Know what? I bet that Spike Lee would make a really brilliant zombie movie. He really excels at crafting stories about groups of characters caught in circumstances that bring out the worst in everyone. This movie reminds me a lot of Do The Right Thing, but it's made twelve years after and set ten years before. I was surprised (though perhaps I shouldn't have been) that this movie spent so little time with David Berkowitz himself and so much more with all the characters made paranoid and hostile to each other in the wake of his insane and random murders. The Son of Sam murders have fostered an atmosphere of suspicion that leads former friends and people who've grown up together to mistrust each other, form vicious little in-groups and turn on other people to make themselves feel more secure. Not unlike in The Walking Dead. These characters seem really three-dimensional and real to me, and everyone's motivations, while sometimes despicable, are at the very least understandable. I really like the way Ruby and Ritchie get into the burgeoning CBGB's punk scene and come together, and I really liked Vinny and Dionna as the profoundly unhappily married couple trying to repair their strained relationship. Are they even compatible? I love this movie. It's so human and so big, and Spike Lee tells the story with a real sense of flair and zeitgeist.
    Emily A Super Reviewer
  • Dec 23, 2011
    On a scene by scene basis this film is alright, but it is a mess when taken as a whole. It's like the filmmakers came in with twenty ideas and a clumsy script that does not fully develop any of them. This leaves confusion as to what message Spike Lee was trying to convey. There are moments of brilliance in this movie, accompanied by some good acting. The most noteworthy performance is Adrien Brody. Yet for every moment of brilliance, there are tedious elements that prevent the film from being great. The relationship sub-plot with John Leguizamo's character feels like a very bad soap-opera that is only related to the Son of Sam killings by sheer coincidence. This sub-plot is a time-killer that doesn't add to the overall story. Plus there are some characters that are too cartoonish to be taken as real people, which counteracts the gritty realism Spike Lee is trying to achieve. If Spike Lee had taken the time to refine the script and made it less crowded this movie could have been really great. As it is, it is a mixed bag.
    Christopher H Super Reviewer

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