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Blu-ray Review: Back to the Beach (1987)

August 23, 2022

By John Corrado

In 1987, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello reunited for Back to the Beach, a lighthearted and surprisingly enjoyable tribute to the “beach movies” that made them teen idols over two decades earlier in the 1960s.

The film, which Paramount recently released for the first time on Blu-ray, finds Avalon and Funicello playing versions of themselves. They star as a middle aged married couple who still get caught up in reminiscing about their youth.

Once ”the big kahuna” who could ride any wave on his surfboard, Avalon is now a car salesman, while former “Mouseketeer” Funicello is a housewife. As the title suggests, the story finds them going on vacation and ending up back on the California beach where they first met, just as they start to experience marriage troubles.

The film is narrated by their fourth-wall-breaking, wannabe juvenile delinquent teenage son Bobby (Demian Slade), a smart ass who is perpetually embarrassed by his parents and constantly needling his father. Further friction emerges in the family with the realization that their young adult daughter Sandi (Lori Loughlin) is in love with a surfer dude (Tommy Hinkley), much to Avalon’s consternation.

Avalon and Funicello’s starring roles are backed up by a series of cameo appearances from fellow TV stars from “back in the day,” including Bob Denver (Gilligan’s Island), Don Adams (Get Smart) and Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers (Leave It to Beaver). Pee-wee Herman (Paul Ruebens) also appears in a musical number that doubles as the film’s most surreal sequence.

The film was already made to bank on audience nostalgia in the 1980s, and it feels like even more of a retro time capsule now. With a knowingly goofy, metatextual bent to it, Back to the Beach functions as a corny but sweet and sincere homage to the beach movies that made its stars famous, and the Blu-ray offers a fine chance for audiences to revisit or discover the film.

Bonus Features (Blu-ray):

The Blu-ray comes with a single featurette. A code for a digital copy is also included in the package.

Filmmaker Focus With Director Lyndall Hobbs (9 minutes, 3 seconds): Director Lyndall Hobbs talks about making the switch from doing TV news in Australia to directing her first film, working with the iconic stars, bringing her own baby to set, the critical and audience responses to the film, as well as its enduring legacy.

Back to the Beach is a Paramount Home Entertainment release. It’s 92 minutes and PG.

Street Date: August 9th, 2022

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