Like many movies before it, this week’s Netflix-original The Last Summer follows a group of newly-graduated high school students as they seek to make the most of the little time they have left together before they go off to college and begin their lives. KJ Apa stars as Griffen along with Maia Mitchell as Phoebe, the girl he’s long had a crush on, Jacob Latimore as his friend Alec, who was just dumped by his girlfriend Erin (Halston Sage).
All the connections between the four of them set the stage for high melodrama as everyone does or doesn’t express how they’re feeling about one of the other while at the same time acting scared the end of summer means the literal end of their lives for all intents and purposes. Adding to the complications, Erin starts dating a player on the Chicago Cubs.
The collage-like appearance of the photos on the poster – where everyone is either in their own small photo or where a number of small photos make up a bigger image – looks like what you see in “grid view” on someone’s Instagram profile. That’s probably not an accident, but instead a subtle way of adding a context and visual framing for the target audience. Copy at the bottom promises “Your real life is about to begin” to set the stakes for the story and characters.
You definitely get the story’s highlights from the trailer. We see Griffen dealing with his inability to tell Phoebe how he feels about her, Erin dump Alec before rebounding with a Cubs player who falls in her lap during a game and all the tension that results from the evolving situation.
It’s a cute trailer that sells it as a mostly harmless little romance of emotions heightened because the young people involved are self-absorbed enough this really is their “last chance to go all in” on life before things come crashing down.
One issue I take with it: Toward the end Phoebe playfully pushes Griffen into Lake Michigan while they’re walking along the lakeside path somewhere around North Avenue Beach. This is a tremendously bad idea and nothing anyone who’s grown up in the Chicago area would ever do. There are signs and warnings on the concrete everywhere along that entire path reminding people the undertow is dangerous and can sweep you under quickly. My suspension of disbelief was immediately destroyed.
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Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nope, but Netflix often runs some ads after release.
Media and Publicity
Apa appeared on “The Tonight Show” to talk about the movie and his love of romantic comedies. He did a few other interviews, but that’s about it on the press front.
As I said above, it’s cute enough and there are a few elements like the poster design that are meant to specifically speak on a deeper level to younger audiences. The story is overwrought, of course, but all movies like this are to some degree or another. It will likely work in ways that are similar to the movies Netflix put out last year during its much-touted “Summer of Love” and fall short along those lines as well.
It’s yet another example of how this kind of mostly-inoffensive, low-budget, non-effects driven movie is finding a home on streaming platforms and not in theaters, which are dominated by blockbuster consumer goods tie-ins.