Recognizable working actor Joseph Cross (“Big Little Lies”) transitions to directing with a blunder of a debut fixated on attractive twentysomethings in a small college town where local rock bands are adored. Penned by first-time screenwriter Jordan Jolliff, “Summer Night” fails to kindle interest for its medley of flagrantly undeveloped characters trapped in bland scenarios over a 24-hour period.
Aside from an unplanned pregnancy, stakes are embarrassingly low. Love triangles between people with incompatible personalities dominate the film’s fragmented storyline. Meant to feel either lived-in or spontaneously passionate, these poorly written relationships don’t project the effervescence of living in the moment nor the fickleness of what’s to come.
The absence of dramatic depth, in conjunction with instances of unflattering acting, prompts one to infer Cross couldn’t instill any tools from his time in front of the camera into his cast.
Adequate yet never noteworthy, Ellar Coltrane, of “Boyhood” fame, takes on Jameson, a beloved junior high teacher hailed as the only person with potential to outgrow his aimless drinking mates. A credibly distressed Analeigh Tipton and a boyishly remorseful Ian Nelson brighten the film with proficiently affecting turns in the shoes of the disconcerted parents-to-be.
An unsatisfying potpourri of insipid romances and lackluster musical performances, “Summer Night” offers one unintentional silver lining for everyone involved: It likely will disappear into the vast wasteland of mediocre and forgettable independent productions.
Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Playing: Starts July 12, Arena Cinelounge Hollywood