Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released in May, 1978
Directed by Robert J. Rosenthal
Written by Celia Susan Cotelo and Robert J. Rosenthal
Cast: Kim Lankford, James Daughton, Susan Player Jarreau, Michael Luther, Stephen Oliver, Tara Strohmeier, Bill Adler, Roger Lawrence Pierce, Flora Plumb, Sherry Lee Marks, Rory Stevens, Parris Clifton Buckner, Bruce Kimball
One of the things I like about the handful of Crown International Pictures high school ‘fun and frolic’ films released in the 1970s and 1980s—or perhaps, the only thing I like about them—is how they take me back to an era I wish I could return to and spend a few days reliving again. Never mind that these films were typically filled with poor direction, questionable acting, a lack of story, and low-brow humor; what makes them watchable for me are the bygone locales, the period cars, the fashions, and the Southern California vibe that I not only grew up with, but now also identify with. Which is why I can enjoy such drive-in fare as The Pom Pom Girls, Van Nuys Blvd., and The Beach Girls over and over again: they allow me the opportunity to time travel back to my high school years anytime I choose.
Which brings us to Malibu Beach, my favorite of the genre for those very reasons mentioned above, and one of the most easy-going, non-aggressive, and downright mellow teen sex comedies you’ll ever experience. School’s out for the summer, and cheerleader Dina trades in her pom poms for a lifeguard job at Malibu Beach, where tanned, uninhibited guys and gals spend their days and evenings having a good time in the sun, surf, and late-70s atmosphere. And trust me, that was it for anything resembling a coherent storyline; beyond that, it was nothing but loosely-connected vignettes, montages, and scenes of harmless teenage escapades. But it was this lack of story and structure that gave Malibu Beach its simple charm. That, and of course the dog who kept stealing the bikini tops off unsuspecting female sunbathers.
Kim Lankford and Animal House nemesis James Daughton played our two leads, the lifeguard Dina and the amiable stud Bobby who falls for her, while Stephen Oliver returned from CIP’s The Van as musclebound lunkhead Dugan, once again portraying an obnoxious prick out to spoil everyone’s fun. The direction by Robert J. Rosenthal—who earlier wrote The Pom Pom Girls and would later helm the abysmal Zapped!—was neither here nor there (there were some nice sunset establishing shots, but why were so many scenes filmed at night?), though I appreciated the fact that his characters were more laid-back and good-natured than cruel or bothersome, which offered a nice change of pace from what you’d expect, and helped keep the film’s carefree tone from becoming too weighty and serious.
So how does one end a movie that has no plot, structure, or story arc? What exactly do you wrap up? What these filmmakers chose to do—and yes, I’m spoiling the ending—was to have a shark interrupt an aquatic showdown between Bobby and Dugan, then freeze-frame on our two exuberant leads and their two friends as the end credits played out. Conversely, how do I then review a movie with no plot, structure, or story arc? After taking another look at the three paragraphs above, I’m not sure if I succeeded with that attempt, so maybe it’s best for me to say, I enjoyed Malibu Beach for its nostalgia factor, for blonde cutie Susan Player, for Sherry Lee Marks and her snug LA Kings t-shirt, and for the cool Rolling Stones 1972 tour poster on Dina’s bedroom wall that I’d really love to own. (5/10)