Buena Vista // 1988 // 82 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Paul Corupe (Retired) // April 13th, 2006
Not so much fun in the sun.
A mainstay of USA Network's Up All Night and straight-to-video rental store shelves, the Roger Corman-produced Beach Balls is a paint-by-numbers 1980s teen sex comedy that forgot to include much in the way of jokes or nudity.
Down-on-his-luck teen Charlie Harrison (Philip Paley, Land of the Lost) admires beach bunny Wendy (Heidi Helmer, The Nest) from afar, but he's afraid she won't like him because he isn't in a totally radical band. After his nutty pal Scully (Steven Tash, Island of Blood) conceives a plan to get the lovebird together with the girl of his dreams, Charlie finds out that his insecurity is well-founded -- Wendy's only using him to get closer to his friend Keith (Douglas R. Starr), the lead singer of rising local band Severed Heads in a Bag. Deciding it wasn't meant to be, Charlie turns to his second love, rock 'n' roll. After his parents leave for a week in New York, decides to hold a Severed Heads in a Bag concert at his beachfront house to raise enough money to buy that totally gnarly Flying V -- and maybe, just maybe, convince Wendy that he can rock, too.
Alright knuckleheads, I know you're only here for the nudity report, but before we get to those details, I have to say that Beach Balls really isn't that bad a film. Sure, the plot is standard cookie-cutter stuff, and the ending involving a visiting record exec is predictable from the first few scenes. But the action is actually handled pretty well by schlock film veteran Joe Ritter, who bucks tradition and makes an honest attempt to develop his characters throughout the course of the film. Though the main story feels thin, there are several subplots weaved through the main plot to bulk things up, including Charlie's trouble with the law, his unlikable sister's crush on Wendy's bland lifeguard brother, and a trio of no-goodniks who try to steal the concert cash to no avail. It's a surprisingly well-structured little film that never really gets boring or lacks for ideas, even if the end result is completely forgettable.
Paley, best known for his stint as monkey boy Cha-Ka on Land of the Lost all but disappeared from the world of TV and film after starring in Sid and Marty Krofft's dinosaur-fest, resurfacing just once for this somewhat deflated flick. Too bad, because he's actually kind of likable here, and he inhabits just the right niche between nerdy and cool to be sympathetic and believable to the audience. The rest of the cast, mostly unknowns who count Beach Balls as their only Hollywood credit, are serviceable, but again, not noteworthy. Perhaps it's just that the film's fashions are almost two decades out of style, but the girls in the film, including the much-fawned over Wendy, don't seem especially attractive.
What is missing is probably the only reason anyone would bother even picking up a film called Beach Balls: crude jokes and exposed female flesh. There are precious few laughs in this film, which is really more interested in telling Charlie's story of unrequited love than engaging in the expected wacky teen antics. Perhaps because of this, nudity is also kept to a bare minimum, with only a few pairs of breasts glimpsed in gratuitous scenes that very well could have been added after a post-production decree from King Corman. Ironically, however, Buena Vista is still playing off the film's implicit promise of bared booty, adding a line of ad copy on that back that winks: "The Roger Corman Comedy Collection brings you the comedies your Mom won't let you see!" Unfortunately, you won't feel very rebellious after watching this fairly restrained effort-as is often the case with 1980s teen sex comedies, the cover box art is far more lurid than the film could ever hope to be.
Presented in an open matte 1.33:1 ratio-no doubt replicating the original straight-to-video transfer-Beach Balls looks washed out, but it's not too bad overall. Sound is a satisfying 2.0 mix that delivers dialogue and Severed Heads in a Bag's laughable hair metal clearly. There are no extras at all here, not even chapter stops.
This middling timewaster maybe worth a watch if you're a teen sex comedy completist, but Beach Balls is too full of hot air to really warrant a second viewing.
Review content copyright © 2006 Paul Corupe; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Buena Vista
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 1988
MPAA Rating: Rated R