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Legacy Review

Beach Party (1963)

I kept wanting this to go full Linklater and just show us the kids partying and surfing with no pretext, because those are the best bits. The energy and joy in the details of this film are amazing: the over-saturated summer hues, the Dick Dale surf rock, the dance-offs, the ridiculous slang, the board-riding footage, and, yes, the scantily clad beach bods.

That said, the story those details hang on — of a detached observer scientifically documenting the horny surf scene and getting immersed in it himself — is actually pretty clever, though not nearly clever enough for an occasionally draggy 97 minutes. It has some fun meta-commentary and self-deprecation — and it shows that the writers and producers were up for having some fun with this concept. It even manages to mostly avoid the ookiness of the scientist as a pervy old man by emphasizing his asexuality and goofy curiosity in contrast to the teens unabashed 24-7 thirst for each other.

But you, like me, are here for the teen beach fun, and there are some brilliant stretches of it here that made me want to be 16 again and jump through the screen to catch my own wave.

Is It Good?

Good (5/8)

Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.


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