Teen Beach Movie
Reason for the Rating: N/A
Plot Summary: Two surfer teens get magically transported into the fictional world of "Wet Side Story." Fun and adventure ensues.
PopFam Recommends: If members of your family are fans of High School Musical, then you'll love Teen Beach Movie as well.
I have to admit I was skeptical about Teen Beach Movie when I saw the trailer. "Looks like High School Musical on the sand," I thought. But, I decided, I kind of liked High School Musical, so why not try it at a beach? So I gave it a shot, inviting my grade-school aged and middle-school nieces to join in on the experience. (Disney says the target audience for this pic is "kids ages 6-14," so I figured it'd be a good test to include two of them in the screening!)
OK, I'll admit it. I actually enjoyed this so-cheesy-it's-fun romp by the ocean. The young actors in this film give it their bright, culturally-diverse, wholesome all. The music is catchy and family-friendly. And (despite the heavy-handed "girls can do anything boys can do" sermon that was too often repeated), well, it was just a happy time to spend an evening watching Teen Beach Movie in the company of my cheerful, energetic nieces.
Here's the story in a clamshell:
Modern American surfer girl, McKenzie (Maia Mitchell) and her surfer dude boyfriend, Brady (Ross Lynch) decide to catch one last epic wave before she has to leave for boarding school. There's magic in the wave, however, and the two teens find themselves inexplicably transported into the fictional world of "Wet Side Story"--a retro surf musical movie set in 1962. (Tell your kids to ask their grandparents about Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon for the Disney history homage!)
Caught in this simpler past, they must (hilariously) join in on the beach blanket bingo and frequent group singing extravaganza. New friends with hip names like Seacat (Jordan Fisher), Giggles (Mollee Gray), Lugnut (William T. Loftis) and Struts (Jessica Lee Keller) help them through the adventure. But our transplanted Future Kids must beware: a couple of scenery-chewing, 60s-style mad scientists are trying hard to muck up the magic!
When Mack and Brady accidently interfere with the star-crossed romance between teen idol, Tanner (Garrett Clayton) and beach-babe Leia (Grace Phipps, playing the sister of the leader of a biker gang), things start to really get out of hand. Of course, there's much fun to be had in bringing the world back to its right balance (along with generic messages about tolerance and female empowerment).
Teen Beach Movie is not terribly original, pulling plot influences from films as diverse as Back to the Future, Pleasantville, and pretty much any Scooby Doo cinematic adventure. Still, the singing and dancing is awesome — these kids would look great on a Broadway stage — and there's plenty of punny humor and wink-at-the-camera moments that both kids and adults will enjoy.
All in all, Teen Beach Movie is just what it aims to be: A refreshingly optimistic (though a bit preachy), wholesome joy-ride for children around the ages of 6 to 12. So go ahead and catch the wave, gather your whole family for movie night, and transport yourselves back to Wet Side Story circa 1962. Who knows? You might actually dig it.
Bonus: The DVD edition of Teen Beach Movie includes a groovy surfboard icon zipper pull (great for backpacks, purses, or beach jackets) and Behind-the-Scenes rehearsal footage for the diehard fans in your family.
Let’s Talk About It
Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:
• What was the best part of Teen Beach Movie for you? Why?
• If you'd been one of Mack and Brady's new friends out there on the beach, what advice would you have given them about their unexpected situation?
• What part do you think God could have played in Teen Beach Movie? What part does God play when you find yourself in an unexpected situation in real life?
Note: All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.