Summer of Sam - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Summer of Sam Reviews

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½ April 8, 2017
This is a film that I somehow never happened to rent way back in the days of heavy VHS viewing, so I was pleased to give it a spin on cable recently. Spike Lee tells a very interesting tale about the Son Of Sam killings, as they effect the lives of a varied cast of characters in a Brooklyn neighborhood, butting the action up against the Disco scene and the rise of the Punk movement, and I really dug it quite a bit.

Good stuff, well worth a rental.
February 20, 2017
very underrated. spike lee tells one hell of a story about being an outcast not all will appreciate
January 30, 2017
Inside out of all American Italiano.
Super Reviewer
October 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.
½ August 24, 2016
Summer Of Sam is one of the most underrated films you will ever see (if you've ever actually seen it, which is unlikely, because i sometimes feel like im about the only fucker who has) set over the worst summer in the history of New York City, involving the infamous New York Blackout, which saw almost the whole city being thrown into darkness, which in turn led to looting's, widespread arson and riots, plus a severe heatwave that was so harsh it took a few lives, and all this happening as a killer stalked the streets, The 44 Killer or The Son Of Sam, randomly murdering young brunettes sitting in their cars or walking home. (Quote from a New York resident of the time: What with the heat, the fire hydrants fanning out big sprays across the streets full of sweaty people, the looting, no subways, little work, no elevators, no refrigerators, Son of Sam roaming around, boyfriend sick, and punk rock as the sound track in my young head, Blackout '77 was a surreal, fun, scary holiday in New York City near its glorious nadir.) This intense, ferocious masterpiece from Spike Lee is an attempt to encompass the whole fucked up episode in the city's history, with the killer front and center in the minds of a couple of disco dwellers, punks and thugs trying to survive those brutal months, and tearing each other apart through hazy atmosphere and drug addled mistrust, aggression and contempt. John Lequizamo is brilliant in the lead as arrogant, cheating and troubled, drug popping dickhead Vinny. Adrien Brody, a spin the dice actor on weather or not he'll turn in a good performance or a bad one (sometimes entertainingly bad, have you seen The Village?) here gives us his best role as fucked up punk and SOS suspect Richie and Mira Sorvino walks off with the film as Dionna, put upon wife of Vinny, in a performance so good it once again make you question why she disappeared from Hollywood so completely. This is a stylized, vital shot of thrilling adrenaline, inventively shot and edited and filled with copious sex and bloody, brutal violence, drugs, debauchery, disco dancing and a fantastic jukebox of 70's tunes. It fucking rocks.
April 26, 2016
Spike Lee is a hit and miss director for sure. However I expected a bit more from the source material. Instead we get another character tale that misses too many times.
February 14, 2016
It's totally watchable.
½ December 8, 2015
Ridiculous even by Lee's standards. Of course, his movies are always interesting and worth watching, but in this case the flaws that I couldn't get past were too numerous to forgive (and to go into in this limited space in any detail): the cartoonishly repellent characters; the sluggish pacing; the grossly saccharine tone amplified by Terence Blanchard's typically ruinous score; the elements of unintentional (I think?) comedy, especially the hideously misjudged scenes in Berkowitz's apartment. I could just go on and on.
½ October 9, 2015
I watched it on Showtime. I taped it and had to take three days to watch it. It is horrible. You say, "Thank God of the Son of Sam". He is the only sensible character in the film. At least one person knows why and what he's doing.
August 24, 2015
"Summer of Sam" has it's gruesome and thrilling murder sequences, but it gets lost in a terrible narrative with unlikeable characters that goes from being a soap opera to a soft-core porno and for the most part, ignores its most interesting and compelling character, the Son of Sam.
June 28, 2015
Rambling and overwrought. I fast forwarded through most of it.
½ June 27, 2015
Expected a movie about a serial killer, got a lovestory instead. Meh. Boring.
The last half hour or so is pretty intense though, so you can give it a try.
½ June 8, 2015
Review by Jesse Burleson of VIEWS ON FILM

In 1999, Spike Lee decided to direct a film based on a very hard hitting, true story. Depicting the events of the Son of Sam serial murders in New York City (summer of 1977), Summer of Sam periodically delves into the search and capture of famed murderer (dubbed the .44 Caliber Killer) David Berkowitz. It also peeks into the lives of the people that inhabit one of the Bronx neighborhoods he was terrorizing. "Sam" carries with it, a majestic sense of time and place. However, it packs in very tightly, too many plot layers to go along with the central story. And the fact that this is all done in almost 2 and a half hours, is a jaw-dropping miracle.

Seeing this film for the first time in 5 years, it made me revert back to one of my favorite Spike Lee joints which would be Clockers. With shades of Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets and hints of Saturday Night Fever (especially the overhead shot in "Sam" of the two main characters entering a discotheque), Summer of Sam is similar in structure to Clockers. But it's unable to juggle the plot points effectively like that 1995 film did. The reason: it could be the script which feels too abrasive and without thoughtfulness or ambiguity. Most of the characters talk in a racist manner with huge stereotypes to go along with it. Was that the culture of New Yorkers at the time? I'm not sure because I'm not from NYC and I was only 3 when these events took place. Regardless, this could create a rather large unlikability factor with the audience, an audience who invests their time to view this flick.

In essence, Summer of Sam is the epidemy of restless, scatter shot film making. Spike Lee has harbored this style ever since he burst onto the scene with 1986's She's Gotta Have It. Sometimes he gets away with it and sometimes he doesn't. But you can't fault him for directing films that feel alive and have a pulsating sense of urgency. With his "plot over plot over plot" way of doing things, he unfortunately gets a mixed review from me. Bottom line: "Sam" is a mess, but it's an ambitious mess with a couple of really powerful scenes that hint at what a great film this could have been (one of the best sequences is a fantastic montage of sights and sounds accompanied by the tune of The Who's "Baba O' Riley"). With this vehicle, you get a great soundtrack (a mix of classic rock from The Who and disco) and two edgy performances (John Leguizamo as Vinny and Mira Sorvino as Dionna) that highlight the strong points. Also, the appearance of real life columnist Jimmy Breslin (he received letters from the killer and narrates the beginning/ending of the movie) is a nice touch.

But like I said earlier, "Sam" tries to include everything. You have plot elements such as the infidelity of Vinny in his marriage to Dionna, the glory of the 1977 New York Yankees, the supposed birth of the punk rock movement, and even the local mob joining the police to find the would be Son of Sam murderer. So OK, let's be honest, Summer of Sam is not that bad of a film. But it's way too cynical and ideological to be great. I'll leave you with this notion: in New York City, the summer of 77' was one of the hottest on record. After viewing Lee's exhausting, profanity laden marathon of a movie, you may feel just lukewarm.
½ May 20, 2015
Fiery and quite believable perfomances by Leguizamo and Sorvino, but I can't recommend this.
April 4, 2015
Based on the Son of Sam murders in New York in 1977. Not Spike Lee's best effort but still enough tension and edge to make this watchable
½ February 9, 2015
It's like everyone has two personalities, one you're born with, and one the world gives you.

In New York City in 1976-77 the city is plagued by a serial killer randomly killing white brunette girls, usually with their boyfriends. The murder streak gets so large the entire city starts being suspect of each other and more and more vigilantes hit the streets. A group of friends quickly become divided as they start pointing fingers at each other as the killer. This can only turn for the worse as additional victims pile up.

"You can't get a yacht with ten grand. You're going to end up with a row boat and two Puerto Rican skanks."

Spike Lee, director of She's Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, Inside Man, Malcolm X, She Hate Me, 25th Hour, Bamboozled, He Got Game, and Mo Better Blues, delivers Summer of Sam. The storyline for this picture was intense and fairly well written with interesting characters but the ending was a bit unfulfilling. The acting was better than I anticipated and the cast includes John Leguizamo, Adrien Brody, Mira Sorvino, and Jennifer Esposito.

"I feel like I'm cheating on you with you."

I grabbed this off HBOGO as a movie I remember enjoying when I first saw it. The movie has unique drama elements and fascinating characters to follow. The film is well paced, though a bit frustrating at times, and comes to an interesting conclusion. This is far from a perfect film, but it is definitely worth a viewing.

"You ain't Bruce Lee. Stop kicking Woodstock."

Grade: B-
January 21, 2015
Very enjoyable film, easy to follow and understand and a good story with logical ending.
½ December 11, 2014
I couldn't even make it all the way through this piece of senseless, pointless dreck. This movie cares about its cast of characters even less than I did, letting them wander around the plot like snails in a terrarium until the celluloid and/or your patience mercifully runs out.
September 12, 2014
what is it with spike Lee and putting Italians in his movies I'm not racist at all its just in do the right thing jungle fever and this. this movie looks stupid and satanic which we all know he turned in like 94 poor guy
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