Teen Beach 2 airs tonight at 8:00pm on Disney Channel along with the premiere of the new comedy Best Friends Whenever
Q: What is it?
A: It’s Teen Beach Movie! Which is a movie, about teens, who go to the beach!
...ok, it’s very easy for Disney Channel to just literally make the movie nothing more but exactly what it says o the tin and call it a day. Make it High School Musical but set it on a beach and have every 14 year old girl squeal at all the shirtless hotties and inevitably tune in and watch anyway.
But they didn’t.
Teen Beach Movie is actually a pretty funny send-up of the Annette Funicello or Sally Fields/Gidget surfer and beach movies of the 60s. Rather than cram whatever corny jokes they possibly can into it ala Seltzer and Freidberg, the writers actually show that they know what they’re talking about by playing around with the tropes that populated these movies including chromakey surfing, over-the-top villains who compete with each other to see who can chew the most scenery, and well it wouldn’t be a Disney Channel Original Movie without more than a few musical numbers.
Q: So is there an actual plot to this?
A: Two modern-day surfer kids (who are also each other’s love interest, natch) get sucked into the 1962 surfer movie Wet Side Story (which as you might gather is a surfer parody of West Side Story) and accidentally derail the plot, and they must put the plot back on the rails in order to escape back. This entails trying to stop an evil villain from using a weather machine to ruin the beach.
Q: An evil villain from...huh, what?
A: Well there has to be an evil villain and an evil plot in there somewhere. To quote one of the main characters, and to think this thing never won an Oscar.
Q: So does that mean it’s worth watching or not?
A: Believe it or not it is. It’s just so silly and knows how to wink at the camera in just the right way to be entertaining without it turning into a lazy attempt to throw some 60s throwbacks or references onto the screen or overdo the winking. The fact that it literally knows that it’s taking place inside a 60s surf movie helps the characters play around with tropes without being too much on the nose about it.
Q: How’s the acting?
A: Ummm...adequate? The two villains, both played by long-time Disney Channel, stage and movie veterans, really do steal the scene just as they themselves claim to. The competing surfer and biker gang members are pretty good at what they do too, and it helps that many of them are either veteran actors themselves (most of them are naturally a bit older than they look) or alumni from So You Think You Can Dance? which naturally helps with the extensive musical numbers (the best parts of the movie provided you’re in to that). Chrissie Fit of Pitch Perfect 2 and Maia Mitchell of ABC Family’s critically acclaimed The Fosters are also in it if it helps, probably the most recognizable names away from Disney Channel regulars.
The other “big name” is Ross Lynch, lead singer/frontman for the band R5 (native to my home state of Colorado!) and star of Disney Channel’s Austin & Ally. He’s...not exactly the best actor ever, and it shows, but damn if he can’t sing and dance.
Q: Anything else I should know of?
A: Not that I can think of. Other than being a parody of the aforementioned 60s beach movies it’s also a sendup of Disney Channel’s own High School Musical series. Your tween or teen daughter is probably going nuts over Ross Lynch right now (for whatever reason the kids really go nuts over him, we’re talking Justin Bieber at his peak-nuts). Adult audiences actually seem to enjoy the musical numbers and the 60s movie references as much or more than the kids, based on general critical reviews and IMDb discussion. And, uh, that’s pretty much it. So yeah, have at it I suppose, it’s family entertainment that has something for everyone.
Q: What about the sequel?
A: Well without spoiling it, instead of people going into the 60s movie, it’s about people from same said 60s movie coming into the real world and how they adapt and yes they too must make their way back to their proper place. It’s a pretty solid follow-up and sure to keep fans happy, though there might be a little controversy.
A: Let’s just say it’s not going to be the biggest hit with the #NotAllMen movement or people who don’t like previous events being undone and invalidated by confusing time travel, especially since those two things are directly linked together.
Q: Anything else I should leave on?
A: Not that I can think of. Just grab your kids, some popcorn and enjoy...or watch The Briefcase and Undercover Boss on CBS instead, I don’t know, I can’t control what you watch.
Q: ...no, you can not.
A: ...well there you go!