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Cool Summer Review

Adolescence is something we all experience at one point or another, and each person handles the tribulations of puberty and reckoning the perils of adulthood differently. Whether you become a social butterfly, an outcast, or somewhere in between, it's hard to imagine someone that wasn't acutely affected by this tumultuous era of growth. Cool Summer by Evan Jacobs revolves around this very sentiment of growing up, and while the animation may seem a turn-off from those believing this is a serious production, it most certainly is. Frankly, I feel the animation is itself a medium for telling a superb and gripping story that captivated me personally from beginning to end, as this tale encompasses what it means to grow up and discover one's true self whilst also grappling with ideas of friendship, love, peer pressure, the passage of time, etcetera, all accompanied by the backdrop of a terrifying thriller case regarding a serial killer's terrorizing of a small town. How exactly does Cool Summer deliver excellent story-beats while also remaining a story of growth and adolescence exactly? Let's get into it!

Firstly, through our protagonists we can already establish the personalities that seem a stereotypical trademark of many growing boys: there's Brian, the group 'leader' who seems to enjoy taking charge and deciding what his friends should get up too and wants to make the most of his last few summer days, Jerry, the group follower who gives in easily to peer pressure but still ultimately has a good heart, and Erol, the cautious yet intelligent one who seems to act as the group's brains when Brian seems to more embody a voracious willpower. That is to say, each of these characters, while different, have believable personas and motivations that mark them not just as caricatures of teenagers like so many other movies, but as growing boys that are nearing their teenage- and therefore formative years of life. Despite their differences, they do seem to have a strong bond, but I found as the movie progressed Brian became more toxic regarding his attitudes towards Erol and Jerry, often times forcing them into increasingly dangerous situations solely so he could tell interesting stories at middle school to garner popularity. No doubt, it's the goal of most kids his age to fit in and feel accepted by social circles, so Brian isn't exactly malicious in trying to pursue this goal. Where the questionability comes in is when these situations (which I'll explain momentarily) grow more and more dangerous and having no place for soon-to-be middle schoolers who've barely lived any life, and Brian still insists on lugging them along solely to fulfill an ambition that he alone seems to bear. Without a doubt, my favorite character was Erol, since he always erred on the side of caution and recognized that while his friends' desires were valid, they were clearly walking into a world they couldn't hope to understand. People with Erol's mindset can (no offense any young people reading) be pretty rare with his age demographic, as young people are culturally defined by their recklessness and willingness to engage in actions most others would be cautious or veer away from.

To get into the movie's plot, it's rather compelling and steeped in a definite realism. Brian dearly wants to hook up with a girl or at least find a means of making his summer memorable after believing it was wasted simply idling around with his friends, whilst Erol holds an opposite view and is simply happy to spend time with his bros. Both philosophies permeate the story, which I found really intriguing myself, as both boys recognize that time is short and their echoes of freedom can't be replicated in adulthood as they're shackled with genuine responsibility, which leads them to make choices according to that vein. Ultimately, Brian's desire for a memorable night intertwines the gang with "Tomas", a highly suspicious fellow who seems even more suspect considering the news continues reporting on the mysterious 'Ghost', an anonymous serial killer who is terrorizing the local neighborhoods where our gang lives near. Throughout the movie, we witness Tomas drag them around place to place, with Brian or Jerry refusing to recognize the heightening chances that their 'friend' may be the very same murderer reported on by the news (spoilers, but it's highly implied if not outright stated without words by the end he is). It certainly helps that Tomas's character exudes this atmosphere of menace, and I felt like every word he said was laced with poisonous manipulation and intimidation of some level, as he continually insisted on hanging out with children a decade his younger, taking them around to crack-house parties and almost getting them killed at the hands of a rival dealer. One thing I found especially eye-opening about Tomas is that he's apparently religious as he carries a Holy Bible with him, and despite his obviously nefarious activities has no reason to lie about being faithful or not to the protagonists. I wonder how he reconciles his faith with the actions he takes on a daily basis, or perhaps is simply using faith in God as a guise to seem more respectable and approachable to people.

Cool Summer is a movie that furthermore expertly interweaves its themes with its overall narrative rather than leaving one aspect or another to the wayside. It seems by the end Brian and Jerry genuinely learned something about making Erol feel left out during their outings and activities while also perhaps gaining a lesson in caution after that maddening night with the 'Ghost'. We see that while Brian acts rather toxic and keeps pressuring Erol into stranger situations throughout the night, he carries no genuine malice against Erol and simply wants to enjoy his adolescent life as much as people, and Erol believes he's already living the greatest life by spending it with his friends. Both of their views seem to have an affect on Jerry, who seeks only to follow the crowd and present himself as the tough guy of the crew. Erol seems to recognize the threat Tomas poses while the other two are seemingly blind to it, so it's obvious that he is crucial to their group as their sensible rationality. The characters and their ideals are given weight and not sacrificed for the backdrop of this serial killer storyline, but rather these stories run parallel with each other in a synonymous way, making it all the more engaging to watch.

Overall, Cool Summer is definitely a production I highly recommend checking out. While I personally didn't agree with the animation (especially at certain scenes that were meant to display blood and gore), I really vibed with the story it was trying to tell, and I feel also the animation's simplistic nature was able to lend itself to the story by giving each character a distinct look and feel. If you've got nothing to do and wanna watch a movie about growing boyhood with some heavy thriller elements, give this movie a chance. As always, thanks to Director Evan Jacobs for giving me this and some other movies in this series to review, and thanks to you all for reading! Expect reviews to come out more frequently as Winter rolls around, and have a happy holidays you wonderful people, God Bless.



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