Customer Reviews: Summer Fling
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3.7 out of 5 stars
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on February 21, 1999
Origially titled "Last of the High Kings", this film apparently has been released in the US as "Summer Fling". The new title is horrible but by any title, this film is worth seeking out. It is a coming of age tale about Frankie and his friends and family. The story is set in the summer of 1977 to the music of Frankie's favourite band, Thin Lizzy. Jared Leto plays Frankie. His family is ruled by his Mother, played to perfection by SCTV alum Catherine O'Hara. His father, an actor, influences Frankie's life most notably by his frequent absences. Gabriel Byrne, also the co-writer, plays the father. Jason Barry, bearing a striking resemblance to Ewan McGregor, plays one of Frankie's friends who has an obsession with bringing Elvis Presley to perform in Ireland. Christina Ricci also appears briefly but notably as an Irish-American visiting from Milwaukee. (The Milwaukee audience I saw the film with got a big kick out of that reference.) Leonard Maltin's guide mistakenly identifies the mother as pro-protestant, but in fact she is Irish Catholic through and through. What causes conflict for Frankie is when he acts on his lust for the town's two most popular girls. They are protestant and one is backing a candidate for the Labour Party in the parlimentary election. Though the story takes place twenty years ago, the events of the election, and the character of the Conservative Party candidate played by Colm Meaney may strike a chord with Americans. I'll say no more at the risk of giving away too much of the story. It's a shame the title has been changed for American audiences. "Last of the High Kings" is a title which better fits the story. Frankie's mother frequently refers to her children as descendents of the High Kings of Ireland. The King of Rock and Roll's death and life touched people around the world. This is a small film with a big heart. I raise a pint to director David Keating and the "Last of the High Kings".
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on May 10, 2001
After I graduated from high school, I was wishing I could find a movie or a book that dealt with the unique emotions of standing at a precipice in your life--between childhood, and the real world.
"Summer Fling" hit the spot! It is one of the rare movies out there that actually deal with this time in life that no one else seems to portray.
Jared Leto is excellent in his role as Frankie, the eldest sibling in his eccentric brood. A kind, seemingly-average boy whose unsure of himself and the future, he experiences mixed emotions the summer after school. Gabriel Byrne and Catherine O'Hara also fit their roles perfectly as his unconventional but loving parents.
Christina Ricci's character is small but very memorable--an American who stays at Frankie's house for a couple of days, and falls for him, despite the fact that he doesn't like her. Her last words to him: " Where I come from, you tell someone if you like them, and even if they don't like you back, they don't treat you like a moron", leaves an indelible impression on Frankie.
Towards the end, Frankie talks to his father and his father tells him: "The world is waiting for you". Frankie responds: "I think it's a little too much."
This is a great movie for anyone out there who is also coming of age. It's a small movie you shouldn't miss!
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Like many of the other reviewers, I saw this film under another title (LAST OF THE HIGH KINGS) and the other title was a bit more appropriate. SUMMER FLING gives the impression that the film is about a summer romance, and while a "fling" does occur in the film, it's not the major focal point, though perhaps it should be. Actually, it was somewhat difficult determining the film's focal point or whether it was a comedy with some dramatic moments or a drama with a few comedic references.

We meet in the film a young man named Frankie (Jared Leto) who has just finished taking exams which will determine his future. In Ireland grades on exams determine college choices and ultimately career, so this is a major burden for the seemingly naturally unmotivated young man. Rather than fret about the future, he decides to spend the summer avoiding the potential of limited opportunities and has a number of escapades with his friends. Frankie's offbeat friends, while not troublemakers, are going nowhere fast. We also see Frankie have a number of interactions with his family. He's from an eccentric family. His father is a traveling actor and his mother (played by Catherine O'Hara), once a famous stage personality, is at home raising the rather odd mix of children Frankie has as siblings. Frankie's mother wants him to take an interest in his heritage, claiming the family stems from Irish royalty. She vehemently hates Protestants even though as Frankie rightly claims, many of her heroes are Protestant. Frankie discovers the opposite sex, but it is with a Protestant and member of the Labor Party, neither of which please mother or the local priest. He also misses the opportunity to find first love with an American with Irish ancestry played by Christina Ricci.

The film may be guilty of having too many potentially great plotlines that could make a viewer want more, but ultimately the viewer gets less. Frankie's mother/son conflict could have been interesting, but instead it was rather one dimensional. As it stands, the mother is just an odd duck, Frankie a teen suffering under her control, but both are potentially so rich. The friends could be an interesting lot, but we really never meet them, or at least we don't get to know them with any degree of depth. The political and religious conflicts, so much a part of Ireland in 1977 touch the film, but again not with any depth. If the film had one major plotline: his attraction to a Protestant Labor Party member and the Irish American girl who love shim but he spurns would have been the strongest and most compelling story, with the other side plots story lines adding flavor, it would have made it a stronger film. Overall SUMMER FLING is not terrible, it just could have been better.
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on January 15, 2002
A summer in Ireland where anythings possible. Set in Ireland I was amazed by the quality of the actors accents. Jared Leto and Cathrine O'Hara being American I thought they sounded like natural irish folk. Christina Ricci only had a small role but it was memorable as the American gal who cheerleads and tries to seduce Jared Leto. The family brawls and the love of politics make Summer Fling a funny and dramatic look at life after school exams and the summer counting down the days to your results. Well worth a watch!!
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on June 3, 2013
I love this movie. Jared Leto is perfect as Frankie , a teenage boy trying to get his dream girl ( actually there are 2 dream girls and he will take either!) and how he handles his relationships with friends and family. The most touching relationship is between Frankie and his younger, challenged brother. Catherine O'Hara plays Frankie's mom.She is hilarious as an over protective Irish Catholic mom involved with her children's lives, politics and the church. I definitely recommend this movie.
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on May 29, 2015
I originally bought this movie because Jared Leto was in it. It was a very enjoyable film about a Irish boy's last summer before starting college. I really liked the story and found the characters very engaging. Jared's character's struggle to decide between two girls is also the story of his maturity, and this movie is partly a comedy and partly a serious drama.
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on January 22, 1999
I think this movie was pretty cool because it was a different type of role for Jared Leto, who played Frankie. It takes place in Ireland and it's about a Frankie a teenager that just gratuated from high school and is looking forward to having fun in the summer. This movie deals with Frankies problems with his mother (Katherine O'Hara) who only wants him to date a certain religion , his father (Gabriel Byrne) who is always away acting, getting enough courage to talk to these two girls who he's obsessed with, and of course planning a huge beach party at the end of the summer. Christina Ricci is also in this film but only for about 10 - 15 minutes. It's a witty, charming movie that will make you laugh...a lot. Definetely see it!
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on January 7, 2003
I was surprised to see a few reviewers on this site bashing the movie. I agree it has a slow pace to it, but the supurb acting by O'Hara makes it a memorable film. She should have gotten an academy award for this role.
I really enjoyed this film and I just bought a used copy. Don't expect a fast paced slapstick comedy and you won't be dissapointed.
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on March 27, 2009
or something like that. It was totally wonderful. I love this movie,
it showcased the behavior of Irish women so well, the temper, the love,
the passion, the drinking (yes, but not too much), the excited rants
and phrases so common to these very passionate people.
It also showed that not all Irish live in alleyways and homes with
dirt floors. I especially loved the scene when the son told his mother
he would marry a protestant, or a Jew or a mormon or whatever suited
him and that furthermore most of the people she admired and loved were
Protestant and had been living in America anyway. It was wonderfully
done movie, great scenery, and the actors played off of each other
brillantly. The coming of age part was not as important to me as the
cultural aspects of the movie. A very good movie for those looking for
coming of age, as well as those looking for a beautiful film with Irish
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on February 10, 2011
This movie brought back memories of my adolescent years in Dublin Ireland. It has a relatively peculiar story line. However the scenery in Dublin and Howth is spectacular. Jared Leto an up and coming star at the time is great in the character he plays and the narration gives the movie good carry through. I can see aspects of the mother in the characters of Irish people I know but her personality is not really consistent with Irish women or indeed Irish viewpoints today. Catherine O'Hara does a good job with the role. I enjoyed the movie and may watch it again some Winter evening, as I sit by the fire in California and think of home. The movie was given a different title in its Irish release and was called "The Last Of The High Kings." which makes more sense in the storyline.
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