Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Movie Review: Teen Beach Movie

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun songs and dance numbers, just plain funny
Cons: Cheesy cheesy cheese
The Bottom Line:
Healthy dose of cheese
Proves to still be lots of fun
If in the beach mood

Delightfully Cheesy Trip to the Beach

I don’t follow the Disney Channel as closely as I should.  As a result, I almost missed their recent original movie Teen Beach Movie.  But the chatter I heard made me curious enough I had to give it a try.  I’m glad I did since I wound up really enjoying it.

Mack (Maia Mitchell) and Brady (Ross Lynch) are enjoying a perfect summer living near the beach and surfing every day.  All that comes to a dramatic end when Mack’s aunt Annette shows up to take her to an exclusive boarding school for her final two years of high school.  With the schooling and connections she’ll make there, she’ll be set to move on to a top college and become a huge success in her adult life.  Brady, naturally, doesn’t like the fact that this pretty much means they’ll be breaking up.

The morning that Mack is supposed to leave has record setting surf, and she can’t resist catching the huge waves.  But the next thing she and Brady know, they are transported to…somewhere else.

Brady quickly recognizes it as the 60’s beach movie Wet Side Story, a story about surfers and bikers fighting over a hang out spot.  He’s delighted since it is his favorite movie, but Mack is less than thrilled.  When the two accidentally interrupt the plot of the movie, they realize they have three days to get the plot back on track so they can get home.  Will they be able to do it?

I’ve only ever seen one of the famous beach movies.  Frankly, I thought it was rather cheesy and over the top.  In fact, early on Mack makes a list of all that is wrong with the genre, and I was nodding my head in agreement.  Well, okay, except for the part about people breaking out into random songs since I do love musicals, and that is a feature of the genre.  Anyway, I’m not the biggest fan of the genre, which worried me a little going into an homage/spoof.

And the difference between the real world and the 60’s world of the movie is apparent early on.  The acting was good in the real world, good enough to make me feel sorry for Brady.  But when they arrived in the movie, it was over the top cheese.  Yes, I know it was on purpose and all the actors being it were perfect at capturing the style of acting from those films.  But it took me a little while to get into the film as a result.

But somewhere along the way, I began to enjoy it.  Yes, the movie is predictable.  Yes, the acting stayed cheesy.  But I found myself caring about the outcome of the characters from our world and the characters of the movie.  And since Brady and Mack know they are in the film, the self aware references cracked me up.  The songs and choreography are fun.  They feel like modern versions of the 60’s song styles of the films being spoofed.

When I was officially sold on the film was when it hit the song “Can't Stop Singing.”  It’s a duet between Brady and Mack that horrifies Mack since she is breaking out into random song for no reason.  I was dying.

The film has a few plot holes, like characters suddenly knowing plot points they have no way to have learned.  By the time it happened, I didn’t care.  I was having fun.  There is another hole as well, but it didn’t matter much.

Along the way, Mack is trying to educate the girls in the film that there is more to life than boys, girls can do anything they want, and to do things they enjoy.  The difference between our culture today and the culture of the movies they are spoofing is noticeable.  However, Mack realizes she needs the lesson herself by the end in a moment I loved.

Disney is hoping to recapture the magic in a bottle that was the High School Musical franchise.  I don’t know if they’ve quite done that, but they certainly have an entertaining movie with Teen Beach Movie.  It’s not great cinema, but if you watch it expecting something along the lines of the beach movies from the 60’s, you’ll be very entertained.

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