When’s the last time you had pure fun at the movies? For a lot of us, it has probably been at least 1.5 years, given the whole global health pandemic that has been shutting down theaters and prompting distributors to withhold the types of movies that may deliver such joy (please, hold on Bond, please). Throughout 2020 and early 2021, the state of the industry sort of meant only extremes were released—prestige dramas vying for hardware and big budget blockbusters that cost so much they must push ASAP for ticket sales or a big streaming deal. Stumbling upon the unfettered pleasure of, say, something like Palm Springs became a rarity.
But if you can find It’s a Summer Film!—a genre mashup from Japan that’s centered on some samurai-obsessed high school girls—prepare for 90+ minutes of nonstop grinning. This film recently screened as part of Fantasia Fest, perhaps the world’s finest genre film event. It’s a festival that routinely features the type of work that catches viewers off guard but ends up landing among the year’s best (see The Columnist, from 2020). Within another unusual film year in progress, It’s a Summer Film! has already comfortably secured that very fate. In fact, it might be one of the most feel-good films we’ve come across in the last five years (up there with Bill & Ted 3, Coco, a documentary about Highlights for Children, and a high school zombie Christmas musical).