I feel like it was just yesterday when I finally reached the elusive 1050th review for my website. I know, an awkward number to be nostalgic about, especially since it is the milestone after an actual big one of 1000.
But you see, my Milestone Review for 1050 was the movie, Teen Beach Movie, a Disney channel original, which could be or might be the next big thing after High School Musical. Which of course also had its own big review.
Well, apparently TBM (acronym, bitches!) did do well enough to warrant more praise. I mean, I gave it a 2 out of 4, and was surprised I didn’t end up hating it! So sure, why no do another. Although, the second HSM film is the WORST by far. The camera work is terrible, it looks like it was all done second handed and rushed and none of the songs were good. And unfortunately that one was about summer time and swimming. So I am a bit worried for Teen Beach 2, which is my 1400th review (woot woot). I hope the sequel doesn’t drastically reduce the quality of the first, rushing out a movie to get people all sex nuts.
Just give me some good old fashioned satire. Please and thank yous.
Dancing in front of the screen to your favorite movie in sync with the actors is kind of cool.
Last day of summer! Mack (Maia Mitchell) and Brady (Ross Lynch) are enjoying some anniversary of meeting each other. How so? By watching the same damn movie they probably watched a thousand times on the beach before school starts. And hey, it is a song about how it was the best summer. Nice. Convenient.
But it turns out school is hard. Brady is a bit of a slacker that cares mostly about surfing. Mack keeps really busy, lots of clubs and organizations and wants to get into a good college. When they start to hang out with their older friends (Raymond Alexander Cham Jr., Piper Curda), it is clear that they might not have enough time for each other.
Maybe they were just a summer fling!
Brady can’t spend time focusing on this generic college application. He doesn’t even know his full name!
They quickly break up later that day. Brady forgot to meet her for college fair, and so she went with hunky tall asian kid Spencer (Ross Butler, even shares the same first acting name, oh noes!) instead. It takes 24 minutes into the movie post breakup for us to get another song, which is an incredibly long time for a musical. That song, On My Own, starts out good, but then goes extremely poppy real quick, and suddenly Brady is singing it into a microphone in his room. Does he record songs all of the sudden?
While this is going on, in the Wet Side Story world, Lela (Grace Phipps) is turning away from the script. She wants to save the day too and not be a damsel. Somehow this turns into them finding the magical necklace, where Lela and Tanner (Garrett Clayton) decide to run off into the ocean, taking them to the real world, not the movie world!
Everything is wonderful here, outside of the lack of singing. But don’t worry, they can make people sing in dance, because they are movie characters. They sing “Right Where I Want To Be,” not knowing their movie-ness, but just thinking they are in the future. They have other super powers as well. Like, their hair and clothes don’t get wet under the water.
I was legit going to complain about this picture and bad CGI until they made it a plot point. 🙁
Either way, Brady and Mack now have to work together. Totally sucks, since they hate each other now since it is not summer. They each take the same gendered movie character to their homes to help them blend in. Their plan is simple, make the real world seem terrible, and they will leave on their own free will. That way if anything bad starts to happen, like their world disappear, it isn’t such a big deal to fix it.
You know. Showing them things like calculus. And introducing them to their best friends. Those BFFs who totally love the new friends too, quirks and all. Another fun movie power is that they can’t not be in 1960’s clothing. They put on a new outfit, and magic, that shit looks old.
Nothing seems to be working, so instead they make them go to the cafeteria alone to find a place to sit. This cafeteria is apparently 100% outside and full on high school cliche. Instead of dealing with that negativity of goth kids and cheerleaders, they turn their frowns upside down. Like, literally. They sing a song about how wonderful smiling is, to get everyone to smile and sit with new people.
There is a such thing as smiling too hard though.
I feel like I have to talk more about this scene. It ended up being my favorite song, because it was the perfect satire/parody-ish musical song that I wanted and liked about the first. Most of the songs up this point were pretty shit, or failed to make the right points. But this one. This one went full on weird and 1960’s musical.
Just look at the picture below this one. Look at it in wonder and realize that it is totally in this movie, fully embracing the weirdness that is this now franchise. Musicals in the real world would totally be as awkward as this. I need awkward to thrive, and this is what I needed in the movie.
The more you look, the more weird stuff you will notice.
Hey what about movie world? Well they are all bored, not sure how to move the plot forward. They still have biker Butchy (John DeLuca), biker chick CheeChee (Chrissie Fit, now way more famous for being in Pitch Perfect 2), the shimmy girl Giggles (Mollee Gray), and other dude Seacat (Jordan Fisher). Well they also notice that people are starting to disappear and go away, mostly background characters. Still scary. Thankfully they find the necklace to go to the real world too and can get their friends back!
Back in the real world, Lela and Tanner are adapting way too quickly. No longer do they have their movie powers. When Tanner smiles it doesn’t necessarily produce the cool shiny sparkle! Since idea #1 didn’t work, they decide to instead hype up why life in the movies is better. And of course, they now try singing to them, because that is the only way this shit works.
But then it still doesn’t.
It is very impressive for them to have all these sets on a beach ready to go!
Well shit. Now that the friends arrive and tell them that people are disappearing and presumably dying, they think it is a good idea to go back to movie world. They don’t want death on their hands.
But Mack and Brady are still not back together! I know, it is pretty fucked up. So it is a school dance night, and they aren’t dancing together. That is the saddest of all the things. Turns out the movie gang didn’t go back after all. No, they needed to save the relationship. And the best way to do that is to force a song at this strange dance, where they sing about how they just gotta be themselves you know? And they can’t change who they are. A classic musical trope, that features all the boys and girls dancing at each other on their respective halves of the school gymnasium.
So that basically works, but holy fuck, they really gotta get these movie guys back home. So they run to the beach, and literally all the people with speaking lines blow up and fizzle out of reality, leaving just Lena and Tanner from the film. They don’t go into details, but I imagine if they go back, they will be alone and confused. Unless going back magically saves the day and everyone pops back all easy-peasy. There is no real reason to assume that though.
Being your own unique person involves doing mirror like dance sets and singing the same chorus.
Brady and Mack sing a song to get back together. Mack also finds out that Brady has been designing super sweet surf boards on his spare time and he has been afraid to tell her, because Brady is a fuck face. They also realize that if Lela and Tanner pop away, apparently the movie will not exist and they will never meet. Which is awkward. Before Lela goes, she is told by Mack to make her own story and not give into the preconceptions of her movie world. Be her own woman!
They save the day! Yay! Wait what, Brady and Mack don’t know each other. Apparently Wet Side Story still doesn’t exist. Instead it is called Lela, Queen of the Beach. Instead of an awesome Romeo and Juliet musical beach movie it is a movie with even less plot, about Lela being awesome at the beach? Talk about a down grade. Somehow this erases the last few months of history, despite the movie not even mentioning this possibility.
But don’t fret. Brady and Mack now meet for the first time at a screening of this new movie on the beach, at a big party! For whatever reason, everyone knows the movie but Brady. This is some strange flip of the first time they meet, conversations and all. Thankfully, everyone dances and sings along to the movie on the screen, in time with the movie again, letting Brady and Mack fall in love. Or something. Hooray they still end up together, but…differently.
Again, singing and dancing along with the screen is THE coolest.
Obviously, this sequel is worse than the first film. The first film was an average parody of the old fashioned musicals and it was over the top on purpose. This film barely crosses the over the top moments, outside of the song I talked a lot about halfway through the review. I was disappointed with most of the songs. The school dance song could have been better if it didn’t have a generic as fuck chorus about marching to their own beat. It made it terrible. Not even the final closing song was good, because it has a nonsensical chorus for no reason at all.
“Bubble bubble bubble-a, popple popple popple-a
Sparkle sparkle rattly-doo
Fizzle fizzle fizzle-a, whizzle whizzle whizzle-a
Boom-a, boom-a, that’s how we do.” (Repeat x2 each time).
I want to say that song and a few other scenes may be references to Grease, but they do them poorly and just end up looking like shit.
I am also pretty annoyed that the ending doesn’t make any sense. Let alone the danger of them disappearing and somehow just changing their world as they knew it. This isn’t even a time travel movie. This is people going from a movie into the real world and vice versa. They equate their issues as if they were being transported back to the 1960’s, which is not at all how movies should work. Having them suddenly not meet at all earlier in the summer because a movie changed is also terrible, because it came out of no where with no explanation. Related, the fake movie in question always looked bad, but the new movie it became somehow looks far worse.
The only redeeming quality, outside of the awkward smile song, are the biker characters of course, who don’t get as much time to shine. Tanner and Lela have some decent jokes in the real world, but when they become real, those jokes fade.
It is disappointing that they brought in an awesome Asian male to be fawned over, and he ends up with another Asian character at the end, losing some potential sweet romantic diversity.
Teen Beach 2 went for the shitty sequel to make cash quickly route, instead of developing a story as smart (ish) as the original. It practically changed the genre from parody to…just regular not so good original Disney Channel movie. Such a shame. And it will probably develop into a trilogy, maybe with this one also going to theaters?
In conclusion, Ross Lynch is no Zac Efron.
1 out of 4.