Tribeca Review: Griffin In Summer


Growing up, I occupied a weird territory with my theater friends. Despite being a theatre kid, I never identified as one because of how obsessive some of the people in that community were. It was as if liking theatre was their only identifying trait and whenever they began to talk in-depth about Tony Award-nominated actors, theaters, and choreographers, I just glazed over it. Last year’s Theater Camp parodied that perfectly while Griffin In Summer has captured that same experience to an extent. It’s a far different beast compared to Theater Camp, but the same ideas are present here, although they’re conveyed much differently. 

I originally wasn’t going to cover Griffin In Summer for a handful of reasons, but when I heard it won the Best Narrative Award at the Tribeca Film Festival, it piqued my interest. I was craving a strong movie with a solid plotline after experiencing numerous documentaries at this year’s festival, so Griffin In Summer suddenly became my first and best choice for that. Of course, I can’t compare Griffin In Summer to every single nominee in that category, but it did a sufficient job at creating a strong narrative, despite my personal grievances with the film the longer it went on.

Review: Griffin In Summer

Griffin In Summer
Director: Nicholas Colia
Release Date: June 6, 2024 (Tribeca Film Festival)

Griffin (Everett Blunck) is a 14-year-old boy who is obsessed with theater. He writes plays every summer and performs them with his friends but because of his conceited personality, most people tend to only tolerate him. Because of this, he doesn’t have many close friends and even then, Griffin thinks that they aren’t as smart or adult as him. His shows are far more emotionally mature than what you would expect from a 14-year-old, but at the same time, they’re not exactly good. His home life isn’t amazing either, with his mom needing a lot of help around the house between her job and Griffin’s absent father. Due to this, she hires a man named Brad (Owen Teague), a disillusioned starving artist from New York, to help her around the house. Brad takes the job as a means to make some quick cash. Griffin quickly begins to fall for him and obsesses over him in an eyebrow-raising way, made even worse by his pushing away everyone and everything in favor of pursuing Brad. 

Your enjoyment of Griffin In Summer is going to entirely hinge on your thoughts of Griffin as a character. Just to make sure we are perfectly clear on this, Everett Blunck does a great job of playing this mentally egotistical and self-centered wannabe playwright. His diction is clear and he fully commits to making his character as flawed as possible. Yet, there’s the kicker. The lengths to which this young boy obsesses over a 25-year-old man and actively makes every bad decision to please him will rub a lot of people the wrong way. It’s not like Brad is aware of this affection, however. To the film’s credit, Brad’s obliviousness to Griffin’s obvious obsessions is the source of a lot of the film’s best jokes, but it’s still uncomfortable at times watching this young boy fall head-over-heels in love with this man. 

Unrequited love is nothing new in movies, even showcasing young people having crushes over old people, but it’s understandable why watching a 90-minute movie about a young boy writing sexual fantasies about an older man may put people off. It all serves a purpose, but I wouldn’t fault you for not liking the movie because of how it approaches the topic and how the film exonerates Griffin from all of his mistakes because he made a halfhearted apology in the end. As the movie wore on, while I was generally accepting of the premise, it was the resolution that left a bad taste in my mouth and I don’t think that was intentional.

The comedy and the pathos of the situation come across pretty well though. Griffin is an excessive drama queen and most of the comedy comes from how other people and society react to him. Our introduction to the character is seeing him at a middle school talent show reciting a scene from his play where he has characters yell at each other about miscarriages and abortions. Moments like that are funny, if only through an uncomfortable sense of humor. Other characters also manage to elicit a chuckle, like when we learn more about Brad and exactly why he’s a struggling artist. To some people, comedy like that may be wonderful, but without much variety it quickly becomes stagnant.

I think everything does come together pretty efficiently in Griffin In Summer though. It’s a grounded and down-to-earth movie with likable characters and solid interactions between them, though its topic and delivery will divide audiences. It’s funny seeing this movie back-to-back with Inside Out 2 as both movies explore the complications of adolescence. It may be unfair to compare Griffin In Summer to the quality of a Pixar movie, but it offers up a view of what unrestrained adolescence is like. It’s a solid film that is well made, well written, and well acted and is exactly the kind of small movie that thrives at a film festival like Tribeca.



Thanks to its polarizing main character, Griffin In Summer's awkward sense of comedy isn't for everyone, but its well written story helps support itself through its worst moments.

Jesse Lab
The strange one. The one born and raised in New Jersey. The one who raves about anime. The one who will go to bat for DC Comics, animation, and every kind of dog. The one who is more than a tad bit odd. The Features Editor.