HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATIONNR
The most that can be said for John Fisher's debut feature, How I Spent My Summer Vacation-and this is not saying much at all-is that it is a cut above last summer's crassly abrasive make-out guide, How To Be a Player. Rather than 'How?,' these filmmakers should be asking themselves, 'Why?'.
Okay, sex sells-but this new installment of it among young African-Americans demands more finesse than Fisher or his predecessor can muster to be much fun. Where Player was off-puttingly crude, Vacation talks itself into a coma.
The screenplay-original only in the sense that it is not based on anything-is by Fisher as well. Strike two. It concerns a couple who misspend their summer off from college trying to become uncoupled for the umpteenth time. They are counseled on the sidelines by an assortment of his-and-her advisers who only becloud the issue with their own whining digressions. Although these participants are college-level, the intelligence they impart is on par with the Player pack-and the wit they weigh in with is virtually invisible.
RonReaco Lee and Deanna Davis are the center-ring couple, and much of their performances is of the talking-heads variety, spoken directly to the camera and cross-cut back and forth so that their respective testimonies will contradict each other a la the Chevalier-Gingold 'I Remember It Well' from Gigi.
As a dreadlocked slacker not overly involved in this benumbing harangue, Mike Ngaujah gives the closest thing that passes for an amusing portrayal. E. Roger Mitchell and Maude Bond dispense the not-too-helpful advice, while Jade Janise Dixon and Darren Law give the main couple a good break from each other.
Promotional material for this flick invokes the holy name of Spike Lee in juxtaposition with Woody Allen. That's why it's called promotional material. Fisher has a long way to go before he gets to the Woody Allen level, but his first film does echo (if only in content) Lee's breakthrough, She's Gotta Have It.