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Reviews & Box Office

Total Box Office: $15,500,000
Release Date: June 2, 1978
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TIME Magazine - Monday, Sep. 25, 1978
Directed by Matthew Robbins
Screenplay by Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins

To enjoy Corvette Summer it helps to abandon common sense. In this film there is not a single credible plot development or convincing character. What the movie offers instead is a few benign laughs, some neatly staged action sequences and a bit of appealing moralizing about the evils of materialism. As long as one doesn't demand too much of it, Corvette Summer delivers a very pleasant two hours of escape.

The film marks the graceful directing debut of Matthew Robbins, who, with partner Hal Barwood, wrote the scripts for The Sugarland Express and The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars. Corvette Summer shares the earlier films' jaunty, all-American tone. The hero is a recent high school grad, Kenny (Mark Hamill), who leaves home for Vegas after his prized Stingray is stolen. While chasing down the car, he meets up with a prattling, fledgling hooker (Annie Potts) who initiates him into sex. Suffice it to say that love and virtue eventually triumph over pimps and car thieves.

Though Hamill and Potts are appealing performers, their characters seem too singleminded, and at times simpleminded, for comfort. Their love affair as well as their search for the car are both overtly stage-managed. But Barwood believes in his movie's every frame, and his sincerity comes across in its exhilarating pace and tender moments. Though Corvette Summer relies on hot air rather than narrative propulsion for fuel, it breezes past the finish line. - Frank Rich

Webmaster's Note: This is a sincere review. Kudos to Frank Rich!'s Review (3 stars!!)
An unfortunate title makes this sound like just another California-blonde movie, and that hurt at the box office. Creative team of Barwood and Robbins have fashioned a sweet comedrama about a teenager, ably played by Hamill, who goes after a car that's been stolen. Roche (the Ajax Man in the TV commercials) is the shop teacher at a high school, whose class has lovingly restored a Corvette only to have it stolen. Hamill is picked up by adorable Potts, a fledgling hooker attempting to learn her trade in the rear of a van equipped with a water bed. The writer and director manage to integrate several plot lines into the movie; Roche is squeezed between a teacher's salary and a family man's obligations, and he gets involved with a hot-car ring in order to support his clan. Milford runs the warm-auto business and attempts to enlist Hamill into the field. Potts tries to make a go of being a prostitute, but it just doesn't work as she and Hamill fall in love. All in all a very funny movie with enough solid, believable story to take it beyond the realm of teenage summer fare.

A Review by Clarke Fountain of All Movie Guide
The Corvette Ken Dantley's (Mark Hamill) class has been restoring in their high-school shop class is nearly completely fixed up. One day, the students walk in and it is gone - apparently stolen. Ken is larking about in Las Vegas when he spies a car that looks suspiciously like the Corvette he knows so well. He begins looking for the car, but in the meantime Vanessa (Annie Potts), propositions him on the street. Intrigued, he follows the girl back to her van, which is equipped with a waterbed. She hopes to use the van as a travelling brothel, with herself as the bill of fare. Instead, she helps him look for the missing car, and as they search, the two of them fall in love. Though praised by critics, Mark Hamill's second starring feature did poorly at the box-office, and stalled his career. Corvette Summer marks the first star appearance by Annie Potts, perhaps better known for her role in the U.S. television show Designing Women.

Webmaster's Note: This review/summary leads me to believe that this person did not watch the film. For one, the car didn't just disappear one day when the students walk into class. Also, Kenny isn't larking about in Vegas - he was lead there because the gas station salesman told him it was in Vegas. Lastly, Vanessa does not proposition him on the street -- she picks him up hitching to Vegas...

A Review by Chris Barry of Sky High Picture Show
On first look, its hard to determine when exactly "Corvette Summer" was made. The release date was 1978 but it almost looks like it was done earlier - like before "Star Wars". Mark Hamill's star was ascending when "Star Wars" hit and its hard to believe he would have chosen "Corvette Summer" as his cinematic follow-up. However, reliable sources say he did "Corvette Summer" after "Star Wars" but, because of the impact of the George Lucas film, its pretty obvious distributors decided to slap "Corvette Summer" out there to cash in on Hamill's fame - short lived as it was.

"Corvette Summer" made it to the drive-in circuit playing triple bill to other teen sex and car wreak flicks like "Grand Theft Auto", "Swinging Cheerleaders", etc. But "Corvette Summer" lacked the prurience that most films in this genre promised. Matter of fact, partly because of Hamill's overall lack of charisma, "Corvette Summer" has no sex appeal at all. Even though the girl in the film, Vanessa (Annie Potts), wants to be a hooker in Las Vegas, the movie remains sexless - a cinematic eunich.

Even the car in the film - a tricked out Corvette - is notably unsexy. Hamill's character, Ken, who is a senior at some L.A. valley high school builds the 'vette in shop class. He puts weird spoilers across the top of the thing, makes the grill look like teeth, has it painted a gaudy red, puts fur on the dash board and has it set low to the ground. A straight, rehabbed 'vette would have been better, but its the thought of the filmmaker to trash it up tossing out the 'less is better' school of thought. And, as a corvette, the car is unrecognizable.

Ken is more turned on by his car then he is by hooker wannabe Vanessa. Which is understandable, considering Vanessa's loud, obnoxious, mean-spirited personality. The story? Somebody rips off Ken's car and he's determined to track it down -which he does in Las Vegas. He hitchhikes his way to Sin City and is picked up by Vanessa. He tells her of his dreams (to find his stingray) and she tells him of hers (to be the best whore she can be). Naturally, she makes the moves on him in her tricked out Chevy van but he refuses even with her prancing around in the near buff.

Ken would rather plug his 'vette and that's that. Basically, "Corvette Summer" lacks the depth of, say, "The Pom Pom Girls" where at least surface teenage issues are raised (teen angst and dime store existentialism). Hamill is remarkably empty, abrasive and a real downer. He plays Ken as such a surface level loser, that its no wonder he can't connect with anybody. His life revolves around a car (which is an American malaise) that's ugly and expensive.

Director Matthew Robbins milked the scant plot for all it was worth, filling the screen with interminable shots of the car, static shots, unfiltered lensing of Hamill's face, which was already starting to look a little ravaged. Potts' character is so obnoxious that its hard to listen to her voice without turning the volume down. Robbins probably felt tied up during editing - if he had kept all of the best shots, there would have been no "Corvette Summer". Widdling down acres of film when there's nothing to use is a duanting task indeed.

Webmaster's Note: Ouch!! This is one harsh review! But, the author, at least, watched the movie!