Despite its title, there’s little nostalgia in the early-aughts-set “Summer ‘03,” other than a few choice songs and the inclusion of the omnipresent Nokia cellphone (complete with the classic game Snake, of course). Written and directed by Becca Gleason in her feature debut, this is a standard teen comedy, bolstered by a strong lead performance by Joey King but hampered by an adolescent-like attention span.
Before she passes away, Dotty (June Squibb) gives her 16-year-old granddaughter Jamie (King) some unexpectedly frank words about getting more sexual experience. Jamie might be a little rebellious, but she chooses to follow her grandma’s advice, heading straight from the hospital to the remnants of a high-school party. From there, she begins spending more time partying and hooking up with Luke (Jack Kilmer), in his final weeks before becoming a priest.
‘Summer ’03’ bounces between plot lines and themes, shuffling through elements of better films with a lack of focus and little insight into Jamie. It never transcends its teen movie origins to become something more. It lacks the sympathetic heart of “Lady Bird,” the self-reflecting wisdom of “The Edge of Seventeen” and the hilarious raunch of “The To-Do List,” emerging as the Natty Light equivalent of those full-strength brews. It may please teens, but those who have outgrown their high-school clothes will likely find they’ve left behind movies like “Summer ‘03” as well.
Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes