That Night Review

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In 1961 Long Island Alice is just that bit younger than her playmates. Her heroine is Sheryl, the teenager over the road who has a succession of boyfriends. When Sheryl's father dies suddenly and she takes up with Rick, who is viewed with horror by all the parents around, she and Alice become firm friends as they try to keep the romance going


Overfamiliarity is bound to bring indifference, if not contempt, for this umpteenth girls’ coming-of-age memoir set in 1961 to the obligatory toe-tapping soundtrack of period platters and the ever popular voiceover reminiscing “I learned some things that summer, things I’d never forget . . .” Based on an autobiographical novel by Alice McDermott, this is well dressed and competently if unexcitingly directed by Bolotin. What it is, however, is tired and shallow, peopled with all the stereotypes found in the young lurve genre and full of elements familiar from Romeo And Juliet, Grease, every Sandra Dee movie ever made and John Sayles’ Baby It’s You. Long Island teen queen Sheryl (Lewis, coiffed with a blonde flip but still employing her rapidly wearing mannerisms) is popular, confident and a little bit fast and wild for a convent school girl. Smitten at a bowling alley with Rick (Howell), a black leather-jacketed bad boy from Brooklyn, Sheryl employs her 10-year-old worshipper across the street — narrator Alice (Dushku, a sombre child neither overly cutesy nor particularly engaging) — as go-between. Thus defying mom, neighbours and niceness, Sheryl and Rick spend a summer dirty dancing on moonlit suburban lawns and ripping off petticoats under the boardwalk, ever observed by the thrilled young accomplice. After all the usual traumas, misunderstandings and hit tunes, one is frankly relieved to see the back of them, although one would fervently wish them a more interesting future in 1962 as, perhaps, Terence Malick’s Kit and Holly, than as residents of the video rack where they will undoubtedly long be consigned.

Adds nothing new to the well-worn rom-com formula.