An American Summer
The story is based on Mark Twain’s classic, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but instead of taking place in the 1850’s on the shores of the Mississippi River, An American Summer is set during 1978 on the shores of the Pacific. It is a coming-of-age story about a boy’s summer adventures in a California beach town.
The film begins in suburban Chicago in June, 1978. The Travises are going through a bitter divorce. To avoid having their only son, Tom (age 14), be part of the ugly proceedings, they decide he should spend the summer with his Aunt Sunny. Sunny is an artist, a refugee of the 1960’s, who lives a completely natural life with her one year old daughter in a small beach town in California. So here’s Tom: A Midwestern suburban kid and hockey player, forced to leave his dissolving family and all his friends behind to go spend the summer in California, a place where there are earthquakes, mudslides and oil slicks, where people dye their hair primary colors, talk funny, and are mellow all the time. And except for an Aunt who lives totally organically and whose baby cries a lot, he knows no one else.
Tom’s first day at the -beach, however, brings him face to face with an enterprising surfer nickname “Fin.” Fin offers to introduce Tom to the two “babes” he’s been eyeing if only Tom will help Fin sell sunglasses and deliver newspapers.
The moment that Tom and Fin get together there’s adventure–from the local girls, Traci and Cari, to the boys’ encounter with the bully lifeguard, Joey and his best friend, Bo Riley, the town’s reigning surfing champ. After Tom and Fin witness a drug deal turn sour, they must run for their lives, hoping the police catch Rockman before he catches them.
The summer culminates in the annual surfing contest where Tom and Fin must go up against Bo. Seems like an impossible task for a hockey player from Chicago, but with the boys working everyday from dawn to dusk, maybe there’s a chance. . . Then, just when everything seems to be working out well for Tom, he’s dealt one more blow and he must decide how to deal with life’s cruel twists.