Endless Bummer is a coming-of-age tale about a young surfer's last summer before
college. Given the fact that the lead character is named J.D. and the author is
named John 'J.D.' Drury, it's probably a safe assumption that the film is based
on reality or at least an embellished version thereof. I don't suppose that this
was developed as a National Lampoon property, but for one reason or another it
now bears the dreaded "National Lampoon presents ..." before the title.
It's 1984, and J.D. has finally saved up enough money to buy a custom surfboard
for his last big summer with his friends in Ventura. He's so excited with his
new possession that he goes out surfing alone immediately after taking the board
from the shaper. This does not prove to be a wise decision because a fall
separates him from the board, and he can't locate it. He and his friends deduce
that it has been stolen, and soon determine the culprit. The remainder of the
film is a road trip to retrieve it from an unfamiliar part of Southern
The story has its moments, but the author apparently had to face many choices
between accurate recollections and entertaining ones. He chose the former too
often, so this pleasant enough straight-to-vid sometimes suffers a bit from a
tendency to take itself more seriously than merited by the subject matter.
That's my way of saying that the film would play well as a comedy, except that
it's not really funny. It's really too short on humor and raunch to get many
rentals as a straight-to-DVD youthploitation comedy.
I am guessing that the National Lampoon people noticed the same thing, because
they added some additional footage in a clumsy attempt to punch up the humor and
nudity. Although they did accurately identify a problem with the film,
they provided a disastrous attempt at a solution. The inserted footage seems
entirely out of place, and contains completely different actors and characters
who appear nowhere else in the film. In order to establish a connection to the
main story line, these additional characters are pictured having a party back on
the home beach and talking about the progress of the main characters, who are
off on their road trip.
There is some interesting gimmick casting. Joan Jett plays a dotty beach rat who
may or may not have witnessed the theft. Vanessa Angel has a small part as the
mother of one member of the surfing crowd. (Vanessa Angel as a mom? Boy, that'll
make you feel old, if you don't already.) James Remar turns in a serious,
methodical performance as the father of the thief. To be honest, it was it was a
realistic and credible performance, but it seemed out of place. Remar seemed to
be acting in the Broadway revival of Long Day's Journey while the other
performers were more like stoners acting out their favorite lines from a Bill
and Ted movie.