Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on March 26, 1982
Directed by Bud Townsend
Written by Patrick Sheane Duncan
Cast: Debra Blee, Jeana Tomasina, Val Kline, James Daughton, Adam Roarke, Dan Barrows, Mary Jo Catlett, Tessa Richarde, Judson Vaughn, George Cheung, Corinne Bohrer, Bert Rosario, Tom Logan, Catherine Mary Stewart
A trio of fun-loving females spend their summer at a Southern California beach house, and…well, that’s about the gist of it, actually. The scenario is pure summer beach movie: school’s out, it’s a warm and sunny Memorial Day weekend, and nice girl Sarah meets up with her party-gal friends Ducky and Ginger at her uncle’s palatial Paradise Beach cottage, where soon an impromptu shindig is in full swing. One that happens to be populated with our three girls, a laid-back hitchhiker picked up by Ginger, and a swarm of local beachgoers, delivery drivers, and anyone else fortunate enough to be sucked into their vortex.
From there, it’s a non-stop montage of music, booze, pot, sex, and frolicking in the pool and the Pacific, where swimsuits are, of course, optional. But that’s only half the story…and that was the good half. When the film concentrated on the escapades of the three girls, it was actually kinda fun, in a silly but endearing kind of way. However, when the story concentrated on various unrelated beach interludes and a gay, Bogart-impersonating Harbor Patrol captain, well, the movie didn’t just stall, it flat-out died. Why pad the film with this sort of nonsense? Would it really have been that hard for the filmmakers to craft a 90-minute storyline where a bunch of spirited guys and gals have some fun in the sun?
Adorable newcomer Debra Blee played the wholesome, inhibited Sarah, who by film’s end became joyously uninhibited, while her two wild friends—ZZ Top music video vet Jeana Tomasina and sleepy blonde Val Kline—delivered a much-appreciated supply of infectious merriment and topless misadventures all weekend long, playing the parts of Ducky and Ginger with boundless enthusiasm. James Daughton, better recognized as collegiate dick Greg Marmalard from Animal House, here played it cool as Scott, the easy-going wanderer searching for his purpose in life; his interactions with Sarah supplied the film with its most serious and down-to-earth scenes, and its few moments of genuine warmth.
The fringe players were mostly there for window dressing, but if you’re a fan of Catherine Mary Stewart (and frankly, who isn’t?), the end credits revealed that she made an appearance as a surfer girl; I’ve watched this thing three times now, and I still have yet to find her. As for director Bud Townsend, after his stint on the equally-pesky Coach in 1978, it was four long years before he’d work on The Beach Girls, and unfortunately the layoff was costly; during that time, he apparently forgot how to use his viewfinder, placing actors partially out of frame, opting for close-ups that obscured a scene’s focal point, and basically flubbing every chance he had to show us something scenic or artistic.
And with this film, the two ends of the Crown International Pictures spectrum were pushed to their limits: on the positive side, both the JMQ (Jiggling Mammary Quotient) and VMQ (Visible Mammary Quotient) were decidedly off the charts, while at the opposite end, the scenes of outrageous goofball slapstick went far beyond normal CIP standards, and as mentioned above, really put a damper on the film’s easy-going summertime atmosphere. Still, the backdrop of surf and sand that was represented here offered a pleasant and sentimental look back at LA beach life of the early 1980s, which along with the hot babes was the primary attraction for me.
Critically speaking, however, The Beach Girls was nothing more than a free-form, no-structure teen sex farce, minus the requisite narrative, plot points, story arcs, or anything else commonly associated with conventional Hollywood filmmaking. In other words, it was just another brainless, harmless offering from the CIP library. (4/10)