With the long holiday weekend approaching, it was obvious more than a fair amount of television would be viewed at our house. So I began to search the satellite guide for movies we could watch that would save me the embarrassment of trying to play the “X-Station” games with my boys.
Now, being an old “hodad” from the ’80s who cut my would-be surfing teeth with Gidget, Frankie and Annette, and who fueled many an “Endless Summer” with Beach Boy reunion tours – Teen Beach Movie caught my eye. I taped (DVRd?) it, curious to see what a new generation of surf movies would offer. It was delightful!
From the beginning, it was apparent this movie did not take itself seriously. In fact, the entire premise is a parody on so many of the staple movies that defined a couple of decades: Beach Blanket whatever, Back to the Future, and Grease – with some West Side Story thrown in.
The movie opens with the classic: a couple (Brady and Mckenzie) being pulled apart as September sends one off to a distant high school. Determined to end the summer by dropping in on a freak, once every 30 year curl – our couple wipes out, only to resurface back on a beach that just so happens to be the same beach in an old 1962 surf movie Wet Side Story.
But Mack and Brady not only drop in on the beach – they drop into the movie. Complete with surf, Woodies, long boards and remarkably modest wardrobes – Brady and Mack errantly disrupt the meeting of Toni and Maria, uh – Frankie and Annette, no wait – Danny and Sandy? No…. Lela and Tanner; yes, thats it – Lela and Tanner, which puts their very existence in danger (ala-ish, Marty McFly)
The biker gang, The Rodents (in earlier movies the Rats, Sharks, T-Birds or Jets), compete with the surfers for ownership of their hangout: Big Mamma’s. The remainder of the film is devoted to bringing Lela and Tanner together so as to unite the surfers and bikers in order to stop the evil scientists from completing their diabolical machine which will end surfing and biking forever!
There are some cute songs, updated ’60’s dancing, some corny time discrepancy jokes, and many clever and humorous bemoanings by Mack of all the old movie clichés and stereotypes that Brady is fully embracing and enjoying the heck out of.
There are a couple of nice “limited by gender” refuting moments that fill the void (brought recently to the forefront by Hanna Montana’s “twerking” – glad to say I had to look up what that was, and was sorry I did) for our new generation of Tweeners. I think girls of that age will love the movie – for the boys, the songs and the dancing.
My boys split after the first 10 minutes, but if you liked Frankie and Annette, Grease, and West Side Story; if you can sing more than four beach tunes, or name any two Beach Boys; if you ever were a hodad, know what that is, or are compelled to look it up; if you ever watched an Elvis movie more than once; or even if you are just looking for some non-offensive TV time – I think you will enjoy this movie.
Summer is not over until the 22nd, and some clever writing, surprisingly good acting, and a willingness to shrug off the burdens (even if just for a couple hours) that a day can bring – took me back to how I remember enjoying my childhood, or at least how I think I remember remembering those memories. Don’t look for great meanings. Don’t go in expecting a whole lot. You’ll get a lot more out than you bargained for. Just watch Teen Beach Movie and have some carefree fun again! • (935 views)