School is out and the teenagers head for the beach. All is well until millionaire Harvey Huntington Honeywagon III (Wynn) comes around, convinced that the beachgoers are so senselessly obsessed with sex that their mentality is below that of a primate – especially Honeywagon’s wunderkind pet chimp Clyde, who can surf, drive, and watusi better than anyone on the beach. With the teenagers demoralized and discredited, Honeywagon plans to turn Bikini Beach into a senior citizens retirement home.
Meanwhile, foppish British rocker and drag racer Peter Royce Bentley, better known as “The Potato Bug” (played by Frankie Avalon in a dual role), has taken up residence on Bikini Beach. Annoyed by Frankie’s reluctance to start their relationship towards marriage, Dee Dee becomes receptive to Potato Bug’s advances. In a jealous rage, Frankie challenges The Potato Bug to a drag race, in hopes of winning Dee Dee back.
For the longest time I’ve been looking for an excuse to check out these Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello beach movies. Seeing as how it is summer break, I figured now would be the best time to check them out. Just like it did with Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name” trilogy, I somehow managed to skip the first two films and start with the third, Bikini Beach. Fret not, though, I will be backtracking.
What did I like?
Fun in the sun. Unless you’re lucky enough to live in parts of California, Florida, Hawaii, or maybe even New Jersey, chances are you didn’t grow up near a beach. For me, the beach was nowhere near where we lived. I really liked how this flick emphasized the kids having fun on the beach during the summer. I don’t know, there is just something about that camaraderie that I really dug.
Music. They have this labeled as a musical, but I wouldn’t quite call it that. However, the songs that are present are enjoyable…forgetful, but enjoyable.
4 in 1. I read that the character of Potato Bug was originally supposed to have been the Beatles, but they pulled out because of their growing fame (this was filmed not too long after their initial appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.) If you watch him, you can see that perhaps it would have worked with them, but 1 guy taking bits of all 4 worked better. Remember the vultures from The Jungle Book? That’s what he reminds me of.
Oldies. I was surprised that there weren’t more adults. You know, the kind that seem to spend more time at the beach than the kids, but the whole time they’re screaming and scheming to either shut the place down or for the kids to get a job. With the exception of the film’s antagonist and a couple of the supporting characters and some old people who kind of had something to do with a plot that was barely touched on, there were very few adults to be seen.
Love story for the ages. Long have I heard of the chemistry between Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, but this is my first time seeing it. While I won’t put it up there with the like of Bogey and Bacall or Astaire and Rogers, there is a spark between them.
Duplicity. I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about Frankie Avalon. Hell, the most I’ve seen of him is when he’s singing “Beauty School Drop-Out” in Grease. I do know that the guy is a talent, and he shows it by playing two totally different characters. Not only that, but he plays one of those characters playing the other, which was quite impressive.
Cameos. There are a couple of cameos that are sure to have audiences falling in love with this casting director. I won’t say who they are, but one is perhaps the most well known horror creature actor, and the other is one of the greatest musicians to come out of Motown.
What didn’t I like?
Don’t be so obvious. We have a monkey who is supposedly smarter than the teens, but it so obvious it is a guy in a suit that it isn’t even funny. I’m willing to give them a pass on this, but they didn’t even try to cover up his fake-ness.
Story. As enjoyable as the flick is, the story causes it to suffer. It just doesn’t really seem to know where it is going and, as such, leaves us, the audience confused as all get out.
What a drag. Much in the way Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace seems to have just thrown the pod race in to make things more “interesting”, I think this film threw the drag race in for that same reason
Bikinis. There are basically two scenes involving bikinis. Yep, for a film with bikini in the title, there is a serious lack of them. I’m not saying the whole thing needed to be girls running around in their underwear or something ,but there could have been more bikini clad babes. I’m just saying.
If you’re looking for a fun summer flick and you’re into the oldies, then you really should giveBikini Beacha shot. It has a little of something for everyone. I highly recommend this as something you should see before you die!
4 1/3 out of 5 stars