Review: ‘Age of Summer,’ a sometimes choppy, but ultimately sunny coming-of-age tale

Percy Hynes White in the film "Age of Summer."
(Freestyle Digital Media)

A tenderly observed if less than gracefully executed coming-of-age story set in Hermosa Beach circa 1986, Bill Kiely’s semiautobiographical “Age of Summer” ultimately squeaks by on sun-kissed charisma.

“Coconut suntan oil — every time I smell it, it reminds me of my first summer on the beach,” reflects the off-camera adult voice of teen Doug “Minnesota” Mills (Percy Hynes White), actually a Chicago transplant whose family landed in the South Bay back when “Top Gun” and Hands Across America were a thing.

Not that Minnesota would notice, being too preoccupied trying to attract the attention of the lovely but out-of-his-league Brooke (Charlotte Sabina), while keeping out of the way of lifeguard captain Tony (Diarmaid Murtagh), who presides over Junior Guards like a boot camp drill sergeant.

Although it’s all bathed in a warmly nostalgic glow courtesy of cinematographer Darin Moran, and the cast, including Peter Stormare as an oddball shaman called the Rock God, is uniformly engaging, too often the familiar proceedings get bogged down by extensive slo-mo surfing sequences and pointless “Wonder Years”-style narration.


A greater attention to technical details would have been preferable. Despite establishing that 1986 setting, later in the film there’s a close-up of a just-published newspaper with a clearly visible 1983 dateline.

While memory can play fast and loose with time and place, it’s nothing a dab of Wite-Out couldn’t have easily fixed.


‘Age of Summer’

Not rated


Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; also on VOD