Teen Beach Movie

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Brady (Ross Lynch) and McKenzie “Mack” (Maia Mitchell), are high school sweethearts enjoying their time together surfing at the beach. Each time Brady mentions their best summer never ending, Mack looks guilty as if she is hiding something from him but he doesn’t notice it. After coming back inside McKenzie’s grandfather’s hut, McKenzie sees that Brady is a fan of the film “Wet Side Story”, a 1960s Beach Party film. In the film, bikers and surfers battle for which gang gets the privilege to hang out at Big Momma’s, a local diner and hangout. Mack, however, does not like such shows, viewing it as silly and illogical (as in the characters start singing about things for no reason and when they go in the water their hair never gets wet). Brady later learns that Mack made a promise to her aunt that after her mother died she would attend a private school and they were to leave the next day. Brady is annoyed Mack never told him about this (which she regrets) and is very upset she will be leaving. Mack asserts that although going is her choice, she feels it is what she has to do, since it’s what her mom would want. She sadly informs Brady that they will have to break up since when she leaves they will be unable to maintain their relationship.

As Mack packs up to leave, she then decides to go and surf a few hours before the flight, as that day the 40-foot wave is going to hit the beach. Seeing that the waves are becoming too strong, Brady gets on a jet ski and goes after Mack, who is still in the ocean. When Mack tries to ride a fairly big wave, she falls off her board and submerges and Brady jumps into the ocean after her. The two are swept away and when they end up on another beach they find out they’ve been swept inside the movie “Wet Side Story” They watch as the real movie cast perform “Surf Crazy”, which Brady at one point joins, though Mack is just frazzled. Brady sees their situation as an opportunity to have fun but Mack finds it the opposite. Brady tells her there will be a storm and giant wave that could probably bring them back home at the end of the movie but Mack is reluctant to wait for it. They go into Big Momma’s, the movie’s diner and hangout and introduce themselves to the surfers just before the bikers appear and start the surf and turf war. Brady tells Mack about the war, and why it exists, though Mack is still the opposite of amused. The bikers perform a musical number, “Cruisin’ for a Bruisin”, which Brady actually joins in on, even going so far as to dress like some of the bikers. After the song, Mack and Brady are invited by surfers to come to a party at Big Momma’s later that night. Mack was about to say no, but Brady cuts in, and automatically accepts, which leaves Mack even more upset. Just then, their clothing is suddenly changed to fit the movie and Mack’s surfboard appears nearby them.

That evening during a dance in Big Momma’s where Lela (Grace Phipps) is singing “Falling for Ya”, Mack and Brady argue about staying or trying to find a way out and Mack decides to investigate on her own. However, they suddenly change the movie when the movie’s lead man, Tanner (Garrett Clayton), falls in love with Mack after she bumps into him and Brady catches the lead girl, Lela when she falls off the stage. This interferes with the movie’s plot, in which Lela falls into Tanner’s arms, not Brady’s and thus another feud between the bikers and surfers would start. Brady and Mack decide to make Tanner and Lela fall in love to fix things. Brady also tells Mack about the villains of the film, Les Camembert (Steve Valentine) and Dr. Fusion (Kevin Chamberlin), who are going to try to affect the weather to make the surfers and bikers leave so they can control Big Momma’s and turn it into a beach resort.

Brady, Mack, Tanner and Lela take part in a musical number, “Meant to Be”, where Lela and Tanner express their love for Brady and Mack, while Mack and Brady subtly suggest to them that there may be someone else they are really meant to be with. This however doesn’t work, so Mack and Brady decide to split up to convince Lela and Tanner to be with each other. That night Mack joins Lela and the other biker girls for a slumber party, while Brady hangs out with Tanner and the surfer boys at Big Momma’s. While talking about love and the opposite gender, Mack and Brady’s modern relationship views conflict with the 60’s views, which leads to the song, “Like Me”. The next morning, biker-dressed Mack and surfer-dressed Brady meet and discuss how they are not having any success. Later that night, Lela tells Mack that she actually would like to surf and Mack persuades her to do it despite surfing being something that Lela shouldn’t do as a biker.

Mack and Brady each have Lela and Tanner walk down the beach in opposite directions, though Mack suddenly notices waves vanishing and goes to talk to Brady. However, Les’ plan isn’t their only concern as they realize they are morphing into the movie when Mack falls into shallow water her hair does not get wet and then suddenly they are forced to perform a song, “Can’t Stop Singing”. After the song Mack and Brady are captured by Les Camembert and Dr. Fusion and taken to the villains’ lighthouse lair.

Lela and Tanner fall in love with each other while waiting for Mack and Brady and sing a reprise of “Meant to Be”. They soon realize that their friends have been kidnapped by Les and Dr. Fusion. They go to Big Momma’s and convince the bikers and surfers to team up and save Mack and Brady. Meanwhile at the lighthouse, Mack and Brady talk about their experience in the movie and Mack finally admits that she is glad that she came and is spending more time with Brady. She says that she really doesn’t want to go to college but she felt it was what she was “supposed to do”. Mack realizes that it is similar to her telling Lela to surf despite what she is supposed to do and Mack concludes that Lela is braver than her. Brady denies that, saying that Mack is the bravest girl he knows. After that, they sing their own reprise of “Meant to Be”.

The surfers and bikers then crash into the lair, free Mack and Brady and destroy the machine that the villains made. The movie’s plot returns to normal and Mack and Brady realize they are able to return home when they magically are wearing their old clothes again. After saying goodbye to everyone, Mack and Brady get on the surfboard and ride a wave, which submerges them and sends them back to the real world, where they see that no time has passed since they left. The 40-foot wave Mack was looking forward to is still about to approach her too.

Brady allows Mack to surf the giant wave and she successfully does and safely returns to shore. Her aunt appears, upset about Mack delaying their flight but Mack decides to spend the rest of the year on the beach with Brady, seeing that following her heart would still make her mother happy, even though she originally thought going to college was the right thing to do. Her aunt accepts her decision and everyone on the beach participates in one last musical number along with the other teens on the beach, “Surf’s Up”.

In a post-credits scene, Lela, Tanner, Butchy, Struts, Seacat and Giggles wash up into the real world. A modern day surfer thinks they’re lost and allows them to use his cell phone, which they marvel at as they try to use it.

REVIEW:

Since today is the first day of summer, I thought it would be fitting to do something a bit more summer-like, so I was told to give Teen Beach Movie, one of those Disney Channel movies in the vein of High School Musical, but hopefully not as annoying. I recall seeing plenty of advertisements for this, but for some reason I missed it. I guess something more important was on or I had something else to do. At any rate, let’s have a look at thing one, shall we?

What is this about?

A rogue wave magically transports two teens inside a classic ’60s beach party flick, in which a rivalry between bikers and surfers threatens to erupt.

What did I like?

Homage. This generation of teens has no respect for classic films, especially the cheesier ones from the 60s. That attitude is on full display in the attitude that Maia Mitchell’s character has towards the way things were back then and how films were made. That’s beside the point, though. What is of note is how well the filmmakers managed to recreate the fun tone from the films of this era while still managing to bring in the melodrama of today’s emo teen flicks. That could not have been an easy task!

Zac Efron II. There must be a clone machine there at the Disney Channel because one of the film’s leads, Garret Clayton, bears a striking resemblance to Zac Efron. However, when it comes to acting, he isn’t quite where Efron was at this point in his career. Still, I think the future is bright for this kid. Who knows, maybe even down the road he can play Efron’s brother, son, or some other relative, along with the next clone they have in waiting. Ha!

Cheesy villain. If there is anything that I can recall from those Beach Party films, it is the scantily clad women. That won’t fly on the Disney Channel, though. So, the next thing that comes to mind was how cheesy the plot and villains were. Keeping in that spirit, the film brings in a couple of cheesy evil doers who show up, say what they’re plotting, then disappear until it is time for their plot to unfold. For the purposes of this flick, it works!

What didn’t I like?

Feminist. I don’t want to sound like some kind of chauvinist pig, but I’ve had enough of these female characters who insist on doing everything their male counterparts can do, don’t want to be saved, etc. I guess I’m just old fashioned that way. Sue me! What makes it really bad with this film is that Maia Mitchell’s character beats us over the head with her beliefs, much in the same way your typical feminist character would in 80s and 90s movies and television. Strangely enough, by the film’s end, after all the bloviating, she seems to have come around, making it a moot point, if you ask me.

Music. Say what you will about the 3 High School Musical films, they had decent music. Some of it was even catchy, I think. With this, though, someone dropped the ball. There are two semi-catchy tunes, including one that seemingly merges Grease with West Side Story in its choreography. I must say that while I wasn’t expecting a tour de force, in the musical department, I at least wanted to be entertained, This is a musical, after all!

Mysterious ways. The major plot device is how our two leads manage to get from modern day to 1962. Not just 1962, but inside a movie! Closest way I can think of this is in Pleasantville, but they had a remote control to explain things. How it is that they ended up in a movie, which was conveniently mentioned in the scene before, by falling through a monster wave is never explained, other than a special glow on the surfboard. I guess that was supposed be enough to show everyone what happened.

Teen Beach Movie was obviously made to get this generation interested in those beach movies of the 60s. Unfortunately, it spends too much time trying to bring in the modern themes and make fun of the old school. For the most part, though, this is a decent enough film, but the fact that it doesn’t have a strong musical score, despite being a musical, I can’t get past. Also, it seems to appeal directly to the teen/tween audience, leaving everyone else out in the dark. Do I recommend this? Yes, but not very strongly. For me, this is just an average flick that some will like, some will hate, and other will love. Check it out and decide which one you are!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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One Response to “Teen Beach Movie”

  1. […] My reviews of movies I catch via Netflix, in theaters, TV, or my own DVD collection. « Teen Beach Movie […]

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