Ping Pong Summer

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Ping Pong Summer
PPS poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Michael Tully
Produced by Jeffrey Allard
Brooke Bernard
Michael Gottwald
Lori Krein
Billy Peterson
George Rush
Ryan Zacarias
Written by Michael Tully
Starring Susan Sarandon
John Hannah
Lea Thompson
Amy Sedaris
Robert Longstreet
Marcello Conte
Music by Michael Montes
Cinematography Wyatt Garfield
Edited by Marc Vives
Compass Entertainment
Epic Match Media
Indie Entertainment
Nomadic Independence Pictures
Distributed by Gravitas Ventures
Millennium Entertainment
Release date
  • January 18, 2014 (2014-01-18) (Sundance)
  • June 6, 2014 (2014-06-06) (United States)
Running time
92 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1 million
Box office $52,909[1]

Ping Pong Summer is an American coming-of-age comedy film written and directed by Michael Tully.[2][3] The film had its world premiere at 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2014.[4][5]

Gravitas Ventures acquired the distribution rights of the film; they released the film theatrically and by video on demand on June 6, 2014. Millennium Entertainment will handle the DVD release of the film in late 2014.[6][7][8]

Plot summary[edit]

In 1985, 13-year-old Rad Miracle goes on a summer vacation to Ocean City, Maryland, with his family. Experiencing lots of things for the first time, he finds a mentor for his obsession with ping pong.



Director Michael Tully has said that the movie was inspired by growing up with 1980s Hollywood films, ping pong and sunny summer times in Ocean City, Maryland. With Ping Pong Summer he also wanted to pay tribute to those comedy filmmakers from the 1980s that took their time to craft heart-felt stories. Tully focused on breaking the "connect-the-dot" contemporary comedy by infusing personal experience and genuine characters.[9][10] Tully grew up in Maryland, and he and his family vacationed at the resort where he shot the movie when he was an adolescent.[11]

George Rush and Tully collaborated on the sale of Tully's last film, Septien. Rush had worked primarily as an entertainment lawyer, but took on the role of producer for Ping Pong Summer. Tully had been polishing the script since 1992 and was eager to make a movie so reminiscent of his childhood. The duo had a clear vision for the look and feel of the movie. They wanted to make a movie that truly captured the 1980s culture and felt like it was an old reel someone had found in a vault. Wyatt Garfield was instrumental in designing a specific look in the cinematography. Also, by casting generational icons like Susan Sarandon and Lea Thompson, they were able to pay homage to time periods that parents in the audience would be familiar with.[12]

In the opening shots of the film, viewers see a boom box, Nike shoes, and a Run-D.M.C. tape, which, as NPR wrote, are "cultural markers that would clearly peg the film to a particular decade even without a subtitle further specifying the year: 1985."[13]


The production opened up in Ocean City, Maryland. According to Tully the town was excellent at preserving the nostalgic feel of summer vacations. The local authorities and citizens were very cooperative with the filmmakers. To further capture the style of the movie, the entire picture was shot on Super 16 film stock. Tully felt very passionate about this choice and it was approved by Rush and the other producers.[9][12]

The film was shot in Ocean City Maryland, marking the first time since 1986 (Violets Are Blue) that a movie was filmed in Ocean City.[14]


Main cast and characters for Ping Pong Summer
Actor Susan Sarandon John Hannah Lea Thompson Amy Sedaris Judah Friedlander Robert Longstreet Marcello Conte Maddie Howard
Susan Sarandon at the set of 'American Mirror' cropped and edited.jpg
John Hannah by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Lea Thompson by Gregg Bond (2008).jpg
Amy Sedaris080112.jpg
Character "Randi Jammer" "Mr. Miracle" "Mrs. Miracle" "Aunt Peggy" "Anthony" "Uncle Jim" "Rad Miracle" "Rhonda"


Ping Pong Summer played at the 2014 Sarasota Film Festival where it won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature Film.[12][15]


Ping Pong Summer received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 55% of 29 film critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 5.7 out of 10.[16]

Justin Lowe in his review for The Hollywood Reporter praised the film, saying that "Rose-tinted as the film's perspective may be, Ping Pong Summer is still a lingering, entertaining glance back at an era that Americans just can't seem to get enough of, whether in music or movies."[17] Mark Adams of Screen International wrote that "Ping Pong Summer may well feel rather familiar, but there is a lot of good-natured and very accessible fun to be had about its tale of one 13-year-old's dream of glory on the table tennis table."[18] Chris Michael, in his review for The Guardian, said "It's gawky and awkward, but just like Rad's breakdancing worm, this one gets better as it goes along."[19]

NPR was less positive, with reviewer Tomas Hachard calling the film "a sometimes intriguing experiment in upended expectations, though not a particularly successful one," that was largely lacking "coherent purpose".[20] Calum Marsh of criticized Ping Pong Summer as "a cool ninety minutes of vapid 80s fetishism packaged to resemble a proper feature film" that was "resoundingly pointless".[21] Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times focused criticism on the "limp hero" and "lifeless plot", arguing that the positive qualities of the film did not "excuse characters that are little more than props for embarrassing fashion or delivery systems for dated slang."[22] Ann Hornaday at The Washington Post argued that "its relatively uninvolving story, starchily directed by Tully and given little zing by an uneven cast, makes 'Ping Pong Summer'" an "okay-not-great" film.[23]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Nemiroff, Perri (8 March 2014). "SXSW 2014: PING PONG SUMMER Review". Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  3. ^ Campbell, Chris (23 April 2014). "See the Trailer for the Ocean City-Set "Ping Pong Summer"". After Hours. The Washingtonian. Washington Magazine, Inc. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  4. ^ "Sundance 2014: The Next <=> Lineup". Indiewire. New York, NY: SnagFilms, Inc. 10 January 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Kaltenbach, Chris (6 December 2013). "Md.-made 'Ping Pong Summer' to debut at Sundance". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  6. ^ Sneider, Jeff (3 February 2014). "Susan Sarandon Comedy 'Ping Pong Summer' Acquired by Gravitas Ventures". The Wrap. Los Angeles, CA: The Wrap News, Inc. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  7. ^ "Gravitas Ventures Acquires Sundance Pic 'Ping Pong Summer'". Los Angeles, CA: PMC. 3 February 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  8. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (22 April 2014). "Watch: New Trailer For Sundance Comedy 'Ping Pong Summer' With Susan Sarandon, Amy Sedaris & More". Indiewire. Los Angeles, CA: SnagFilms, Inc. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "Five Questions with Ping Pong Summer Director Michael Tully". Filmmaker Magazine. 18 January 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  10. ^ "Michael Tully: Director of PING PONG SUMMER". The Insider. 13 March 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  11. ^ Anderson, Soren (5 June 2014). "'Ping Pong Summer': coming-of-age tale serves up life lessons". Entertainment. The Seattle Times. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c Grady, Pam. "'Ping Pong Summer' Producer George Rush Partial to Indies." . SFGate, 23 Apr. 2014. Web. 30 May 2014. <>
  13. ^ Hachard, Tomas (5 June 2014). "Seeing The 1980s Twice Over, But Done Better With Dance". NPR (National Public Radio). Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  14. ^ Chaney, Jen (5 June 2014). "'Ping Pong Summer' showcases an Ocean City that hasn't changed much since 1985". Style. The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  15. ^ "SFF 2014: Wrap Report". Sarasota Film Festival. Sarasota, FL. 14 April 2014. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  16. ^ "Ping Pong Summer". Rotten Tomatoes. San Francisco, CA: Flixster, Inc. 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  17. ^ "Ping Pong Summer: Sundance Review". Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  18. ^ Adams, Mark (26 January 2014). "Ping Pong Summer". London, U.K.: Media Business Insight Limited. Retrieved 11 June 2014.  Missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  19. ^ Michael, Chris (31 January 2014). "Ping Pong Summer: Rotterdam film festival – review". Culture/Film. The Guardian. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  20. ^ Hachard, Tomas (5 June 2014). "Seeing The 1980s Twice Over, But Done Better With Dance". NPR (National Public Radio). Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  21. ^ "Rotterdam Review: 'Ping Pong Summer'". 8 January 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  22. ^ "It's 1985 All Over Again: 'Ping Pong Summer,' Michael Tully's Nostalgic Comedy". 5 June 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  23. ^ "'Ping Pong Summer' movie review". 5 June 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 

External links[edit]