Back to the Beach (PG)
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Back in the 1960s, before my time, Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon starred in a bunch of Beach movies. In 1987, they reunited in this movie, which was basically a spoof of those old movies. And really... it's not hard to spoof something so redonkulous. I mean, years after I saw this, I saw the first couple of Beach movies, and hope to see the rest, eventually. But man, they were... well, like I already said, redonkulous. They were practically a spoof of themselves (or I suppose I could just call them campy). But as silly as "Back to the Beach" may be, I think it's way funnier than the movies it spoofs. And somewhat smarter. (It may be a bit ironic that I decided to put my reviews of the old movies, and not this one, in the "comedy" section, but... I could just as easily have put them in the "weird" section, whereas I definitely think this is more "quirky," largely because of how tongue-in-cheek it all is, even while obviously having a deep affection for the old movies.)
Anyway, we used to have this on VHS, and my sister and I watched it many times, in the late '80s and/or early '90s. Eventually (in the mid '00s) I got it on DVD, and I know I watched it at least once, but apparently I never wrote a review. So now, in Summer of 2012, I'm watching it again, and I'm finally writing a review (obviously). The first thing I want to say is, I love all the music in the movie. Also there are tons of fun cameos from various celebrities. And stuff. Seriously, this is one of the few movies in the world that I don't think I'll ever get tired of watching.
It begins on an airplane. This kid in his early teens, named Bobby, is doing some exposition. He tells us about how his dad (Frankie) used to be a teen idol and a surfer (called "the Big Kahuna"), and his mom (Annette) was a Mouseketeer. But twenty years ago, his father got hit by a giant wave, and never surfed again. His parents moved to Ohio, where Frankie now owns a car dealership and is completely stressed out. Annette is a housewife, with a peanut butter fixation (which should be amusing to anyone of an age to remember her having appeared in a bunch of commercials for Skippy, in the early '80s). Bobby, by the way, is a very snarky kid who dresses like a punk (kinda like Eric von Zipper), and doesn't get along with his dad. Anyway... Frankie decides they all need a vacation, which is why they're on a plane. They're going to Hawaii, but they stop over in L.A., to visit Bobby's older sister, Sandi (Lori Loughlin). FYI... they never make it past L.A.
At first, Frankie is upset to find out Sandi's been hiding a live-in boyfriend (a surfer named Michael), and he generally doesn't seem to be happy to be back on the beach where he and Annette used to have so much fun. Annette, on the other hand, is more anxious to have fun... until a former flame of Frankie's named Connie (Connie Stevens) shows up, and gets Frankie to start having fun, which he had refused to do with Annette. They miss their plane to Hawaii, and a tiff ensues. Somehow, Frankie ends up befriending Michael, while Annette spends time with Sandi (as well as trying to make Frankie jealous by flirting with a guy named Troy), and Bobby joins a gang called the Sins, led by a guy called Zed. Eventually, Frankie decides to win Annette back by throwing a beach party... but first, he and Michael have to trick the Harbormaster (played by Don Adams of Get Smart fame) into giving them a permit. And at the party... a conflict arises between the Sins and... well, everyone else. And Frankie suggests settling it with a surfing contest, of course. Michael's supposed to compete against Zed, but circumstances make that impossible, so... Frankie has to compete, instead.
And I guess that's all I want to say about the plot. I fear I haven't made the movie sound quite as awesome as it is. Bob Denver (from Gilligan's Island) has a role, as does Alan Hale, Jr., and um... Pee-wee Herman, and the band Fishbone, and... lots of people. But mostly the movie is just corny and hilarious and has a heartwarming ending, and stuff. Really, to properly appreciate the movie, you just have to watch it.