Film Review: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Directed by Adrian Grunberg
Starring Mel Gibson, Kevin Hernandez & Peter Stormare

How I Spent My Summer Vacation looks a bit rubbish and Mel Gibson, without his millions, would be staggering around LA in soiled tracksuit bottoms, sermonizing to stray cats and post boxes. It’s out, being mean is easy. But the fact is: How I Spent My Summer Vacation is a little bit rubbish. It didn’t actually even get a cinematic release in The States. It went, as Get The Gringo, straight to video-on-demand. Whoever thought that the guy from The Beaver could end up like this?

Adrian Grunberg, first time writer/director, who was previously the first assistant director on such films as Apocalypto, The Passion of the Christ and Edge of Darkness joins first time writer/producer Stacy Perskie, formerly an experienced second assistant director on films like Apocalypto, Edge of Dark… Hang on. Co-writer, producer and veteran leading man Mel Gibson, known recently for such films as Apocalypto, The Passion of The Christ and Edge of Darkness, the notoriously bigoted, foul-mouthed anti-Semite wouldn’t have any trouble getting anyone on the phone, would he?

So he championed some new talent. Gave some young bucks a chance to get their hands dirty. Some people buy a Harley. Others cast themselves as a smoldering American bank robber of a certain age, wrongfully imprisoned in ‘El Pueblito’, the toughest jail in all of Mexico, where he discovers his paternal instinct, offering protection to a precocious street-kid, who awaits the same fate met by his father – to be harvested for his organs by a gang-leader with a rare blood type. It’s not actually as bad as it sounds. Perhaps is because both of Gibson’s new recruits have roots in Mexico, but they’ve made a fairly convincing effort.

It does feel like there are a lot of near misses in this film, though. There’s a lot of slow motion tossing of grenades over shoulders, double pistol strafing and fat Mexican banditos being caught in various crossfires – which is all great fun. But then half the dialogue is in Spanish (and not in slow motion), which could alienate many fans of the above. So there’s a tone, an atmosphere. We get a sense of ‘El Pueblito’. Hot, dangerous and corrupted, yet somehow lively and convivial. There are characters we don’t see every day, relationships within a Mexican crime family, subtleties… Well, there would be subtleties, except Gibson provides an almost constant running commentary of every detail we see up on screen. Thanks, Gibber. Anything we might have earned, taking in the sights of ‘El Pueblito’ is handed to us on a silver platter. Really painful.

It’s a summer action flick. In fact, it’s a bit more than that. It’s a rainy day, watch a shitty movie, type movie. “Oh, will the gangsters get the little boy’s Kidneys, or will Mel Gibson kick everybody’s asses?” It’s dumb, but it’s fine.



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